Monday 20 November 2017

Is there barbed wire between you and your stakeholders?

Is it procurement that's behind the high walls surrounded by barbed wire in this picture, or your stakeholders defending themselves?

Procurement doesn't take place in a vacuum. Instead procurement is undertaken in a complex environment with multiple parties, often with conflicting objectives, and various beliefs about who is responsible for what.

Effective stakeholder engagement, cooperation and communication is therefore essential for any procurement activity to be successful.

It's a topic I return to often here (see links at the bottom of this post to other posts I've written on the subject), and certainly something we explore in coaching and training sessions.

Human relationships are not always easy. Especially when we often start with the premise that we're right, and it's the other person who needs to be persuaded of the error in their thinking.

The challenge is then about us putting our beliefs down long enough to understand the impact our behaviours are having on the situation, and then as a result of that insight making changes to our own communication.

Earlier in the year, during a creativity session on a category management workshop, I asked one team to draw the problem they were having with a stakeholder. (Another group were asked to explore the situation using pipe cleaners, another used problem reversal.)

The above picture was the outcome of that request.

The group described their stakeholder sitting behind high walls, which were also surrounded by barbed wire. 

I then asked them to draw what the end result they wanted looked liked, and they drew this:
As they drew the two images they were discussing the reasons behind the situation, and options to positively change the relationship.

This post "it's like talking to a brick wall" takes the use of metaphor a little further than we went during the workshop.

One thread of discussion included the group wondering who had built the walls, and a solution emerged once they took responsibility for the current situation. It would seem they'd felt isolated from their stakeholder, and unable to talk the same language to get them to listen. I may have even asked if it was really the stakeholders behind the high walls or procurement. 

As they explored dismantling the walls other solutions appeared, and a confidence emerged that the current situation wasn't set in stone. They discovered they did have much they could do to alter the situation.

If you've tried to resolve a situation using more conventional means you may want to try more unconventional tools, after all where has convention ever got us?

Always happy to help you and your team unlock your potential using conventional and unconventional tools and ways of thinking

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Unlocking procurement potential

Other popular posts written on stakeholder engagement include:

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