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Sunday, 5 March 2017

The procurement challenge - guiding principles

Guiding principles for the forthcoming series of posts using unconventional tools to obtain a different perspective on a number of challenges faced by procurement.
The underlying principle of coaching is that change is best achieved from within - as a coach and facilitator change is therefore facilitated by asking great questions to assist coachees in discovering the answer for themselves. Answers are either unlocked directly from their own inner wisdom, or answers are uncovered via them taking action on the action plan developed during the session.

Writing posts from this perspective of coaching is obviously fraught with danger. After all I can't have a conversation with you to more fully understand your specific situation, nor would just a list of questions for you to answer be of much help. Which results in me providing more in the way of advise than would normally be appropriate in a coaching setting.

To further add to the challenge of writing coaching posts is my use of unconventional tools. Tools that by their very nature mean we don't have frames of references for how they should work, and can often move people out of their comfort zones.

It's these very unconventional tools I've offered to apply to common procurement challenges here in my blog over the next month or so. Only time will tell how easy the efficacy and power of the tools will be demonstrated in the next few weeks of posts as I do my very best to share how they work. I know they work in practice, so too procurement and business leaders and their teams, I just have share that here in writing!

The aim of the posts:
  • To provide a different perspective to the conventional way of viewing the challenge. (Reading Where has convention ever got us may help position why the solutions won't contain the solutions you've already tried nor solutions you could access via books, business models, or more conventional brainstorming).
  • To help you bypass the blocks to finding a solution.
  • To help you tap into the part of you that knows what to do.
  • To demonstrate the efficacy of using the unconventional tools.
What the posts won't do:
  • Give you an answer - it's all about the questions and insights raised allowing you to develop your own answer.
  • Provide the one solution that fits all situations - there may be as many solutions as there are organisations facing the challenge.
What will help to make the most from the posts:
  • Remembering we won't all be viewing the challenge the same - it's what I call having a chocolate moment on workshops. These tools will always work better when applied to a real situation with the ability to discuss it with those involved.   
  • Putting to one side our assumptions, judgements, and musts, oughts and shoulds about what the solution should be. That is, thinking we know the answer and others just need to agree with us hasn't thus far solved the problem. We need to be open to other solutions or ways of looking at the situation. In other words we need to put the hammer down, because otherwise all we'll see is nails.
  • Staying open long enough to consider how the suggestions might provide insight of the action to take or direction to go. Rather than jumping in straight away with "this won't work". When done in real life addressing the niggles that arise is certainly easier to do. Here I'm asking you to be vigilant for yourself about your level of openness to finding a solution. 
  • Accepting that not every tool will work for every situation and for every person. When coaching or facilitating others it's much easier to get a sense of what might work, or to ask permission "would you be up to try pipe cleaners to explore this a little differently". (Although I have yet to understand how I'm going to use that particular tool in this series of posts - time will tell). Here I'm forcing a particular tool on you, and on the situation - that would never happen in practice. I'll try my best to make a good match, but even if it works for most readers it may not resonate for others.
  • Staying with the process - ie if one tool doesn't work wait and see if the next one might. You can always apply different tools to different challenges than those stated. 
  • Have fun, accept the absurdity, laugh and play lightly with the tools and insights. (Where insight comes from can't be forced - if your brain takes you off on a tangent in response to something I write - please do allow yourself time to explore the tangent.)       
Ok, after all that scene setting, I'd best go and write the first post!

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Unlocking personal, procurement and organisational potential using unconventional tools

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