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Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Dear Organisation, With Love from Procurement



Dear Procurement - please see this BIG PS especially for you.

Dear Organisation,

I’m sorry. I think we got a bit lost, and I wanted to explain myself and find out whether there was a future for us.

I know you think I conned you; that maybe I’m not what you need. And I take full responsibility for that. It wasn’t deliberate, but I don’t think that I showed you my best qualities. I’d like to.

Sometimes, I’ve let trying to please you get in the way of offering the advice or support you required to help you achieve what you needed to. I know that’s what you loved about me when we first met, but I think we’ve moved past that. What I should have given you is good, long term, advice.

I really hope that we can make this work, and that you’ll agree to give me another chance.

Please?

I don’t think I’m deluding myself that you’d even consider trying again. And so, when you’ve had some time to think, I’d like to talk more about how we could do better together.

I still love you,

With Love from Procurement xx

For the much extended, lighthearted, and glossy version of this letter in PDF form to use within your business see my LinkedIn page here. You'll also find a less glossy but extended version as a LinkedIn blog.

and do follow #WithLoveFromProcurement on social media - even better - why not get involved?


Dear Procurement


Dear Procurement,

The Dear Organisation, With love from Procurement letter written to organisations around the world, to open up the dialogue with us, was heartfelt. 

The perception of many about our profession, and the value we can add is woefully inaccurate. 

BUT, 

and there is a big huge BUT, 

The perception others have of us is actually up to us, or is it down to us? Either way, we're responsible for the reaction we generate in others. 

If people view us as penny pinchers, it's because that's what they see us doing. 

If people view us solely as the bad cop, it's because that’s who we are when we’re with them - day in, day out. 

If people come to us to only fight their fires, we’ve obviously only told them to ring 999 in an emergency, and not provided 101 or any other alternate numbers they need for other situations where our skills could be used. 

If they don't give us time to do our job properly - why did we not know about it sooner? Proaction or reaction is a choice we make every day. Reaction will always have us on the back foot. 

Until Procurement stop moaning and blaming others, and start taking personal responsibility for the perception of us by others nothing will change. Yesterday’s letter was one of the many things I'm doing to change the conversation - what action have or will you take today?

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Juggling balls and spinning plates?

I'm never one to pass by a metaphor in a clients language. Not least because they're a quick and easy means of exploring a situation, and finding a wide range of potential solutions.

For example, if someone were to say they felt like they were juggling balls I'd be more inclined to explore the balls, than I would all the things on their to do list, emails, priorities and behaviour of their boss currently responsible for all those balls etc. The main reason being, we can get so lost in all the facts, data and judgements that we end up defending the current situation.

Over the years, I've had many people describe the current undesired situation as like they're juggling too many balls. My response would be to ask more about the balls - type, colour, number, size, direction of travel and so on.


It'a not the current real life situation we're exploring, it's the representation of juggling balls we're interested in.

Once the current juggling has been described, drawn, enacted or simply considered then it's time to consider the options that exist.
  • What happens if you put the balls down?
It's important we don't go back to the real life situation just yet, but instead stick with the metaphor a little while longer.
  • Can the balls go in a bin? 
  • What happens if you make the balls bigger or smaller? 
  • What about changing their colour?
No right or wrong, nor judgement, just what ever answer comes to mind.
  •  Can someone else look after a ball for you?
  • Can other people juggle the ball instead?
  • Can you pop the balls? or blow them up? or let them float?
  • What about making them very light?
  • Can you stop the balls coming straight to you? (we recently had a velcro board where all balls had to go first as part of the decision making process about whether to pick them up or not)
  • Can they go into a bag? 
  • Can you change the balls into something easier to juggle



The aim is to keep exploring the metaphor until you've exhausted all the potential solutions - fun, silly, logical, absurd - no right, no wrong just - a exploration of the metaphor you're using.

Once you've done that, and only then, you can explore what these suggestions mean in the real life situation - solutions that thus far you'd been resisting or had not even considered.

For example, putting all the balls on a Velcro board meant that people throwing balls in the direction of the person could see what else they already had on, and might decide someone else could take responsibility for the ball. Which meant them developing a log of what they were being asked to do, and when people came to them with more work to visibly been seen to be adding it to the list, and discussing it's relative important compared to other activities on the list.

Spinning plates is a metaphor that aligns very much with juggling balls and many of the solutions might be very similar. At the weekend someone suggested they simply needed to put their plates on a plate rack - which felt much less stressful and easier to deal with than the previous model. Although we also discussed adding blu tac under some of the plates to help them stay there whilst the person took a well earned rest!!

The aim is to provide your mind, that currently feels stuck, to understand there are other options and be open to exploring how to apply them to the current situation.

How is the language you're using to describe the current undesired situation also the solution? 

Always happy to help explore your language with coaching sessions of 30, 60, 90 minutes available. Although weekend retreats also available for a good old life overhaul!

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Using unconventional tools to unlock personal, procurement and business potential.

Other recent solutions, explored in the blog and found within the very words we're using, have included going around in circles, life gets in the way, we're on different pages, and fun vlog about turning over a new leaf.