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Thursday, 23 February 2017

Unlocking the potential of procurement teams


I've written before that my life changed in 2000 after attending a Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner workshop. Changed, because I started to take responsibility for the outcomes I was getting in life and at work. I was easier to deal with, and the world felt a lot easier to deal with too.

There was another aspect to the change - and that was the work I was doing.

Prior to the workshop I was a Procurement and Category Manager responsible for procurement activities. In other words, I was involved in getting the most value out of the goods and services being bought by the organisation. Something I'd been doing for 15 years at that time.

After attending the NLP workshop additional activities crept in utilising the tools I was learning - my title also changed to reflect these new responsibilities - Procurement Communication and Personal Development Manager.

If I was to describe what I became then it was a manager responsible for the personal and professional development, well being, and effectiveness of the team, and coach when people were stuck. Stuck - in either their personal or professional lives.

Perhaps put more simply I helped them unlock their potential.

If it's not too soft and fluffy I believe the benefits of unlocking people's potential goes without saying. Just in case it's not so clear to others, what I've observed in the 17 years since that first workshop is that unlocking someones potential can improve or increase their: (in no particular order)
and a few things they'll be invited to release:
Understanding the category management or supplier management tools is essential - but 'what' we do is only half the equation. The remainder comes from 'how' we do what we do. It's no use bulldozering stakeholders to accept a recommendation for example, if that then means they do the exact opposite.(Unless of course you're happy with just delivering forecast savings, and not real ones.)

For the last 11 years I've been self employed delivering a mix of category management consultancy, training and coaching - with a whole load of unconventional tools, development of the 'how', and unlocking potential thrown in too. See my year in blogs for a sense of what 2016 entailed.

In 2017 I'm looking to further expand the elements of my role that deal with 'how' procurement teams do what they do, and unlocking their potential.

If you're interested in developing the 'how' they do what they do to further unlock the potential of your team please do get in touch - alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159.

I look forward to exploring what unconventional tools (or maybe even conventional ones) would support your team most so they may exceed yours and the board's expectations.

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Using unconventional tools to unlock the potential of procurement teams.

The picture above is one of 96 jigsaw pieces we had engraved with the objectives of the procurement team for that year. Everyone had one jigsaw piece, and took them to meetings to swap and discuss. As objectives were met an online jigsaw was completed - see below for a real life attempt at completing it at one team meeting! 

This innovative approach, along side other activities, ensured an improvement from bottom quartile in the MORI staff opinion poll in our first year after merger to upper quartile the following year - including the following improvements.
  • Feeling motivated in present job: 19% increase 
  • Feeling valued: 32% increase
  • Satisfaction with communications: 42% increase

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