As I write this week’s newsletter, I am en-route home from a productive ProcureCon Indirect East conference in Florida.
One of the reasons I started Art of Procurement was to share the experiences, perspectives and lessons learned from events like ProcureCon. Thank you to the team at WBR for their generous support, providing me access to their speaker faculty and giving me an opportunity to do what I love doing.
While on site I recorded a couple of interviews and set up another with an industry heavyweight. I cannot wait to edit these conversations and share them with everyone. Stay tuned….
I was especially inspired this week by a procurement leadership team that is committed to bringing “Silicon Valley thinking” to our, still, mostly traditional industry. Over a couple of hours of far ranging conversation, they privileged me with an intimate look at their journey and philosophy of “failing fast, iterating and innovating.”
Another catalyst in action I spent time with this week: Scott McBride. Last year Scott launched an app, Trending Procurement. The app brings together industry news and event information in one place – it even includes all the latest AOP podcasts! Not only did Scott see an opportunity to add value to our community, he also taught himself how to code (!) so he could get us access to this valuable information without the delay. Check it out by downloading the app from iTunes or Google Play.
There was a cornucopia of discussion topic choices at the conference this week. Two that caught my eye were “digitization” and the power of community intelligence.
There is a lot of marketing these days suggesting technology will redefine everything we do; the silver bullet for all of our challenges. My own view is that technology is like wealth: it makes one more of what one already is. If we have a muddled strategy, for example, technology will only help to make it more confused. If, however, we respect process and the humanity of our enterprise (after all it is people that create, drive and execute vision), then technology will make things that much more efficient and effective as it offers us more time to interact with others, to think and to iterate.
Sometimes interaction with others is not what we traditionally think of as interaction.
How can we tap into the “wisdom of the crowd?” is a question that suggests another type of exchange.
Old hands at procurement have developed various ways to understand “the market” and generate what real estate professionals call “comparables.” Armed with this insight the pros can often negotiate deals (and define terms) that reduce risk and optimize the allocation of capital.
The problem is that the comparables are necessarily limited either by the number of data points or the filters used. What if we had access to oceans of transactions (and significant detail for each) and could run and refine filters “on the fly?”
There are a number firms that are developing and deploying technology that does exactly that (e.g., applying machine learning to spend analytics).
Again, if we are experienced and can see (or create) the bigger picture, this type of technology can only enhance the speed and effectiveness of our efforts in support of our organizations.
Leaving a Mark
The psychology of success.
I have never heard as much water cooler discussion about the criticality of psychology and mindset as a driver of procurement success as I did this week.
It was a breath of fresh air.
In fact, the discussion around digitization this week served to further bolster my sense that we would be well served to focus even more in this area. It is the only way I can see to stay relevant and amplify the impact of our technical skills and the data we are increasingly getting access to.
Some questions to ponder:
- How comfortable am I with data and algorithms?
- Where do I see myself in three years, in five years?
- What technical skills do I need to master to be where I want to be in three years, in five years?
- What real skills (hat tip to Seth Godin) do I need to master to be where I want to be in three years, in five years?
- How can I get the most out of industry conferences? Does it even make sense for me to attend?
Being a Catalyst
Have you come across an article, whitepaper, video or podcast that you would like to share with your fellow catalysts, please send a quick email with the details. I read every email and am eager to read yours.
This Week @ AOP
This week I was joined by negotiation ninja Mark Raffan. Mark leads a negotiations training business – both for buyers and sales professionals. He recently launched his own podcast – Negotiations Ninja.
We had a wide-ranging discussion on all things negotiation – from negotiation strategies and approaches, to common pitfalls. What was particularly insightful for me was hearing how a professional can be taught to spot negotiation strategies and tactics and understand why they are being used. I had a blast talking with Mark. I trust you enjoy the conversation as much as I did! You can check out it here. While you’re at it have a listen to Negotiations Ninja and let me (and Mark) know what you think.
Until next time,