Tuesday 17 December 2019

Talk to me about mindset

Does procurement already have plenty of heart in your organisation? Could it do with a little more? Or less? Perhaps it’s doesn’t matter! The procurement mindset survey hopes to find out the answer to this and other questions so we can identify the main development goals for procurement for 2020. The survey is open to procurement, suppliers and others who deal with procurement on a regular basis. Your support is much appreciated so do share - responses to date are already inspiring me.

Link to the survey: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/SXDF2/

Friday 6 December 2019

Motivation is an inside job

Motivation is an inside job. 

I’ll say it again. Motivation is an inside job. 

Our motivation, or it’s lack, is not the fault of other people. Which means the toxic boss, negative colleagues, or relentless organisational culture are not the reason for our lack of motivation. Our decision to allow these things to impact our motivation is. 

I know that’s hard. I know it’s easier to point the finger at others. I also know that sustained contact with these potential demotivators can wear even the hardiest person down. 

The issue is that so long as we look for the cause outside ourselves we’ll not take personal responsibility for making the changes that are needed. Instead, we join others and gossip about the toxic boss rather than make the hard decision to find a new job or raise the issue with HR. Instead we continue in our lack of motivation, waiting and hoping for someone else to change their behaviour - and that may never ever happen - leopards and their spots and all that! 

If you’re lacking motivation, what action can you take today to take responsibility for the external factors you’re currently allowing to impact your joy for life?

Monday 2 December 2019

What will you choose to do differently?

Beware when using the following words or phrases: 'everyone', 'everywhere', 'all the time'.

Sweeping generalisations such as these are often used in ways that keep us stuck, and certainly push the responsibility away from us taking alternative action.

Not every single person in every single organisation every day does it badly, wrongly, or unacceptably.

Being more specific in our language enables us to allow for there to be ‘others’, sometimes the majority, who do not walk that walk, and, instead, talk and walk from a different paradigm.

By focusing on the alternate paradigm we want in our organisations we’ll notice those who live there, and understand how we can be the change we want to see in the world. So long as we believe no one does it that way, we’re giving ourselves an excuse to hide and play small.

What will you choose to do differently?

Friday 29 November 2019

Musts, oughts, and shoulds

Doesn’t every daughter at some point look up to their dad and want to be just like him? 

Being so very different from my dad it wasn’t something I had ever done. Until at my dad’s funeral last year I realised we shared very similar work values. 

My dad was a bank manager at a time when bank customers knew the bank manager’s name and they knew yours. He retired in the early 80s. Imagine my surprise that 35+ years after that retirement some of his bank customers attended his funeral. 

“Your dad saved our farm” said one. “Your dad saved our business” said the other. 


“He argued our case when the theory said we were too risky”. 

It would seem not paying attention to all those musts, oughts and shoulds and, instead, listening to our inner wisdom and doing the right thing is a family trait.

How do you want to be spoken of at your funeral?

Friday 15 November 2019

What’s your trigger for action?

What’s your strategy for refuelling your car? Or more precisely, what’s your trigger for action?

  • Seeing the fuel indicator get to 1/4 full?
  • Maybe it's reframing the dial and seeing that it's 3/4 empty?
  • Hearing the alarm tell you the tank is nearly empty?
  • When you notice a cheap price?
  • When you pass your favourite petrol station (for a while I frequented one with a M&S food shop on site). Are you aware of the decision-making criteria that you're using to support this trigger?
  • Lowest price?
  • Lowest total lifetime cost?
  • Retain maximum resale value for the car?
  • Managing cashflow?
  • Engine friendly?
  • Minimising disruption to your day?
  • Efficient use of time?

Criteria that each result in a very different trigger for refuelling.

I’ve also resisted refuelling the car and my strategy has been the sound of the indicator telling me I have x miles ‘til I run out! Little did I know, whilst using this example on a supplier management workshop, that in addition to helping expand delegates’ thinking about the triggers suppliers might have for taking action to avoid problems, it would help me solve my own resistance to refuelling.

Understanding the decision-making criteria and arising trigger people use for action can be a very useful tool for problem solving.

Thursday 31 October 2019

Frameworks for change

How can you model your values at work? 

Or release the fear? 

Or remember that your openness, trust and caring for everyone enables others to share themselves fully and safely? 

Perhaps it’s about embodying leadership (by considering what a role model for leadership would do in the current situation). 

This is just one subset of cards (in the photo above) from the Frameworks for change coaching process. I use the FCP in coaching because the cards are chosen by the coachee and not me. This often means coachees are more open to exploring how these cards apply to the current situation than defending it. Which makes for a more enlightening and inspired coaching session. 

A coaching session where coachees take responsibility for making the changes needed to achieve their goals.

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Low-hanging fruit

“We’ve exhausted the low-hanging fruit, so what do we do now?” 

This is a challenge many procurement departments face. 

Before jumping in with a logical exploration of what to do next - because I suspect you’ve tried that already numerous times - let’s see what a metaphorical exploration can provide. 

That is, if low-hanging fruit is picked quickly, and only once, how do we get more harvest for our organisations? 
  • get a ladder
  • wait for the higher-hanging fruit to fall
  • remove the overgrowth hiding the fruit
  • look for the harder-to-reach fruit
  • find ways to increase the yield
  • reduce waste
  • find uses for the wonky fruit
  • ensure we compost the rotten fruit
  • get more revenue for the fruit we do pick
  • reduce the total cost of growing and harvesting
  • expand the amount of fruit we grow (perhaps expanding to other orchards)
  • change the variety we plant
  • buy fruit from others
  • elongate the harvesting season
  • plan next year’s harvest better
  • move to better soil, or less climate-affected areas
  • use fruit from other areas
  • diversify into growing other fruits or vegetables 

Any other ideas? 

Somewhere within the metaphorical exploration is a seed of an idea for delivering more value.

Photo by niklas_hamann on Unsplash

Thursday 12 September 2019

Words have power

Today's theme for the Procurement mindset challenge is the words we use.

It's a topic I return to time and time again because:
  • Words have the power to confuse or clarify
  • Words have the power to impact how we act - positively or negatively
  • Words have power to find solutions - even when we think we're stuck
Here's some blogs and vlogs I've written on the subject: 

Words have the power to confuse or clarify

When asked to describe 'chocolate' in 8 words here's the response I got from 21 people 

  • Of the 168 words 95 of them were different
  • The top word was Dark, and yet only said by 11 out of 21 people 
  • Everyone had at-least one word not shared with anyone else 
When we can get such different responses to a simple word like chocolate it's no wonder we struggle with other meatier words. Remember only 11 of the 21 people participating agreed on the most popular word, and everyone had at least one unique word to them.

Words have the power to impact how we act

Our internal image associated with a word or saying impacts our behaviour, which is the same for our stakeholders too. Which means noticing what words have a negative impact and changing them to something more resourceful is a great strategy.

For example, calling a stakeholder maverick is likely to mean we start very adversarially with them from the off.

Here's other words I think can trip us up.

Words have power to find solutions

Alternatively, exploring the metaphor contained within our words can provide us with a potential route to find a solution. 

For example, when juggling balls we might just need to metaphorically get some Velcro so we can stick the balls waiting to be juggled into a board out of the way, or the plates yet to be spun can go on a plate rack!  

Other sayings rich with insight include:
  • Turn over a new leaf :-)

This ability to find the solutions within the words we use is further explored in my book - can't see the wood for the trees - where we explore solutions hidden in the landscape when we're: stuck in a rut; up the creek without the paddle; going around in circles; treading water; and can't see the wood for the trees.

The key in all the above instances is bringing into conscious awareness the words we're using and the impact that they are or could have on the outcome we're getting or want.

More than happy to spend a day with your team doing a Procurement Mindset Audit - you'll be amazed at what will be uncovered. 

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Uncovering what's hidden

How do you uncover the strategy of the other team?

What activity do you undertake to discover what makes the other team tick?

Which begs the following questions about the other team’s strategy:
  • Is it important?
  • What does that information enable you to do?
  • Will you succeed without it?
  • Will making assumptions work?
  • Do all teams have the same strategy?
  • Does your strategy change based on your understanding of their usual strategy?
The thing is, your mindset is like the other team in this analogy – the strategy it’s using is often unconscious and yet impacts the outcome of your actions. Win, lose or draw in life depends on how well you understand your mindset. What people are discovering on the procurement mindset challenge this week is how much difference bringing into our conscious awareness is having on them moving towards the goals they’ve chosen.

Understanding our mindset is the difference that makes the difference.
You can choose to leave it hidden from view just like an iceberg or bring it into the open so that choices can be made about its efficacy and effectiveness in you achieving the results you want. What will you choose?

Image by Chris Reading from Pixabay

Wednesday 4 September 2019

5 days to go

Join us for the free 5 day procurement mindset challenge starting on Monday 9th with a daily email setting you a challenge for day and a live q&a in the eve.

Thursday 22 August 2019

Procurement is full of perceived difference and separation

Procurement is full of perceived difference and separation.
  • Procurement vs suppliers
  • Procurement vs finance
  • Procurement vs engineering
  • Procurement vs operations
  • Procurement vs marketing
  • Procurement vs fm
  • Procurement vs hr
  • Procurement vs the mavericks
  • Procurement the bad cop vs the good cop
  • Us vs them
The post that inspired this list was one on inclusion and diversity from Helen Amery (I’d highly recommend reading it). Helen’s post started a thought process for me that was further fuelled by noticing other posts where there was a distinction being made between “us” and the “other”. It’s that distinction I often pick up in the language of procurement - a language with an “other” we have to battle with in order to win the day. These posts are inviting us to consider there is no separation we are all part of a whole and any outcome is only achieved by doing it together as an “us”. Notice what you notice today about your separation with others, and perhaps even try for yourself a little more “us”ness.

The mindsets of separation and unity will be explored on the forthcoming 5 day Procurement challenge starting on the 9th September. Join me and discover the obstacles hindering your progress.

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Have you ever had a bad day?

Have you ever had a bad day & wanted to blame someone for your day? I remember many years ago slamming down the phone & swearing very loudly & a colleague asking “Have you stopped doing Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)?”
They asked because since I’d started my journey of how my mind works I’d started to stand in others shoes, & take responsibility for my reactions. I realised how I saw the world was only one view. In the words of a stakeholder I’d become “easier to deal with”. I’d become more conscious of the impact my thinking was having on any situation & how I was feeling. On bad days when we don’t understand how others think, & everything gets on top of us it’s easy; to not want to take the time to understand our own contribution to the situation; to have a day off from personal responsibility; to blame someone else; & to slam the phone down & swear. Ultimately though, our mind is with us 24/7 365, & a conscious awareness of the impact it’s having on the outcomes we’re getting is actually the quickest way to finding a solution or resolve a frustration. It’s such a pity that’s also true on a bad day because slamming phones can certainly make us feel better - momentarily. How can you take back responsibility for the outcome you’re getting?

The 5 day Procurement Mindset Challenge starting on the 9th September will allow us to become more conscious about the mindset we're choosing in any moment, and to explore the alternate choices we have. See link to join up.

Tuesday 20 August 2019

I can feel the frustration

  • I can feel the frustration.
  • I can feel me digging in my heels.
  • I can me whispering “over my dead body”.
  • I can sense the dogged resistance to them getting their own way.
  • I will not give up.
  • They will not win.
I wonder if this ever how procurement stakeholders feel about us?

I wonder if this is ever how suppliers feel about us?

The content & details of the non work situation driving this behaviour in me is immaterial – even if I would love to gossip, moan & justify why I’m right & they’re wrong.

That’s going to get me nowhere.

If I step back, I can certainly see the behaviours that got us here:
  • Changes imposed on another party with no consultation.
  • An objection procedure that relies on emails/letters & no human contact.
  • Facts & data ignored if it supports a different outcome or amended outcome.
  • Ignoring other people's opinions because we've labeled them as NIMBYs 
  • Key facts & data misrepresented or omitted at the final presentation.
  • Only one party in attendance when approving the decision.
  • Emails written when angry.
  • Emails that stray from the facts & data.
  • Emails that push the other party to defending their position.
  • Not pushing hard enough for a face to face meeting.
  • Not talking to another human being.
Which of the above behaviours may you need to step back from today?

There is another way, and among other things it involves: 
  • Consultation 
  • Communication 
  • Compassion.
Join me for the 5 day Procurement Mindset Challenge on 9th September where alternate mindsets to the ones that led to the mutual frustration and impasse above will be explored.

Monday 19 August 2019

5 day Procurement Mindset challenge

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle
In the procurement mindset 5 day challenge starting on 9th September we’ll be looking at ways of making a supportive mindset a habit.

Monday 5 August 2019

Not in my back yard!

Are you listening to the “Not In My Back Yard” Procurement stakeholders in your life, or judging them as moaning Minnies defending their own self interest against a greater good?

NIMBYs are a pain, right?

As I reflect on my continued disagreement with the local council it certainly feels like I'm being judged as a NIMBY.

As I woke early, still feeling very frustrated, I realised how I'm feeling might just be how our stakeholders feel when resisting one of our brilliant strategies.

It's a feeling that's arisen from behaviours that certainly turn up in the many stories of procurement gone wrong (I have a Pinterest board full of the horror stories if you're interested).

Behaviours that include:

X relying on written communication
X avoiding face-to-face communication
X decisions approved behind closed doors
X not providing full details of the reasons and benefits for the strategy
X not providing the facts and data to support the reasons and benefits
X not addressing stakeholder facts, data, and concerns

I wonder how much of the behaviour we've experienced from the council is because we've been judged as NIMBYs. As if we and our concerns are invalid and are, therefore, dismissed because we're negatively impacted.

How do you handle NIMBYs in your life?