Unemployment in the US is stuck at 9.1%, and other economic indicators continue to languish in the doldrums as another potential European financial crisis looms. Global investors tread lightly in the markets and largely sit atop piles of cash in an attempt to wait out the uncertainty. In the midst of this, employees soldier on despite a seemingly bleak outlook. How then, can companies continue to inspire passion in their employees?
Creativity and passion are at the heart of the innovation engine. Without these two key ingredients, the flow of ideas from the innovation engine slows to a trickle or stops all together. It is incumbent upon the leadership to create an environment in which passion is encouraged, creativity is nurtured and innovation is a center piece of a broader corporate strategy.
With furrowed brow and squinted eyes, some of you are now wondering why this has any place in a procurement blog. “I don’t need a pep talk. I need cost reduction solutions!” Well, you’ve answered your own question. Or at least, with a little bit of inspiration, your team could.
Here’s a couple of key checklist items to get the team started and focused on solving the right problems…right now.
- A vision for the sourcing & procurement team
- A clear, concise list of prioritized goals (strategic & tactical) in detail with evaluation criteria
- A timeline for each goal or set of goals and how it fits into the overall vision
- A regular cadence of communication on progress (e.g., readouts, dept meetings, etc.)
- A consensus on what success looks like for the sourcing & procurement team and the company
“Tell me something I don’t know.” I just did. Most employees feel disconnected from the vision and how they contribute to achieving the goal(s). Communication is often fragmented and parsed at such a level that the entire sourcing & procurement group lacks a common understanding of where the ship is headed. And what success looks like…try asking five of your associates separately. Take 5 minutes during a department meeting and have them write it down and then read it out. You may be surprised.
If your team is not on the same page, then how can you expect them to perform as if they are? If your team doesn’t understand the message, how can they articulate this message with your customers – vendors and internal groups such as marketing, IT and others? If your team is uninspired, how can you expect the group to achieve its goals? “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”
How can something that seems quite simple be so difficult to do? Like most of our work, it comes down to structure and discipline. Here are a few tips to get started.
- Assign this task to the top 2-3 leaders in sourcing & procurement (title independent)
- Describe the vision and let them frame-up the challenge and ideas to consider (i.e., brain storming sessions, informal get-togethers, etc.)
- Have them put together a plan, a timeline and communication schedule (in less than 2 wks)
- Challenge their assertions and assumptions; encourage them to think outside of the normal constraints – time, money, people resources
- Build consensus on the approach and plan
- Give the team time to contribute to this program in a meaningful way, not something in addition to their regular job
Again, no world peace programs or moon shots! The whole idea is getting the group informed and focused on the right goals. All oars in the water, pulling at the same time in the same direction.
On a final note, it is incumbent upon leadership to bring passion to the table. Incorporating this into the procurement group’s DNA is an integral part of success. It doesn’t happen overnight but should always be a focus for leadership.
Capgemini Consulting offers a unique, patented approach to kick-starting the innovation engine and providing an approach for sustained results. We call this the ASE (accelerated solutions environment). This coupled with a broader procurement transformation program can yield a step change in results. For additional information, please contact Matthew Shull or Adrian Penka.