Wednesday 18 June 2014

BravoConnect 2014: An Introduction

By Matthew Gradidge

Another year passes and so does yet another brilliant BravoConnect, bringing together procurement leaders from all walks of life, industries and countries, with two things in common; the first being connection to BravoSolution and the second being a desire to connect with other procurement professionals.

Day one of this two day conference and networking event (with additional dinner and all out party between the two days) opened with the event chair and BravoSolution UK & Ireland Managing Director Richard Hogg along with BravoSolution CEO Nader Sabbaghian. The event, in Richard’s words, was about connecting with clients and stakeholders to help us shape our offering to meet the needs of our client base. Nader introduced a few concepts that were built upon throughout the morning sessions. He likened procurement to the roots of a great tree, an interesting concept with procurement managing connections both inside and outside of organisations through the supply base. The efforts and connectivity is not always visible at the end result but has a huge influence on helping the organisation stay upright. I agree whole heartedly with this analogy. It adds a lot of weight to the growing importance of procurement.

Nader went on to state how there is a fundamental trend throughout the globe. The procurement function is gaining more and more credibility and being seen as a hugely important department. Procurement is becoming a function that drives the organisation’s ecosystem to meet business objectives. This made me think, is this change happening quick enough? Has procurement got the credibility it needs right now within organisations? I think the trend is positive but I would question how much influence procurement currently has in major organisations. Building on this, is having a seat at the table in the boardroom enough for procurement? Does technology, employee skill sets, connecting with and managing stakeholders drive the function to be more effective and in turn build the credibility procurement needs to do a spend land grab? More on this to come from our subject matter speakers but next up was our celebrity guest speaker….

Marc Woods, Paralympic swimmer & gold medallist gave an incredibly inspiring talk on his life and how connections meant the difference between his relay team simply performing to a high standard to going one better and winning gold. Marc was diagnosed osteosarcoma at a young age where he lost the lower half of his left leg.  This blow seemed to actually motivate Marc rather than demotivate him. It was moments of inspiration  he gained from not knowing how much time he had that made him want to become the best at what he could do at all times. In terms of swimming, he was already on the county team but was a lazy swimmer. His dad entered him into the disabled nationals before he was even disabled. His dad showed belief! 8 weeks after the op, training started - by his dad. After 6 months he was swimming faster than he ever could with two legs at county level.

After his relay team received a silver medal (having lost by 0.012 seconds) Marc was surprised to spot that his team had two smiling members and two not so happy members. His team clearly had different objectives. His team were not aiming for the same goal. Marc was leading the team and assumed they all had the same goal – to win gold. He identified a need to listen and talk to realign short term and long term goals. Now, does this sound familiar? Do we as procurement organisations talk and listen enough to our stakeholders? De we align our objectives to the objectives of others so that we reach a common outcome or wider corporate objectives? How do we leverage this knowledge to sell in procurement further into the organisation?

Having reviewed the situation and got to know his team better they performed much better and reached their goals. But it doesn’t stop there. After each event they continued to review themselves to ensure they continued to perform to the best of their ability. Beyond this they started to look at their support team and how their physio’s, medics and even the pool maintenance team to ensure all efforts were steering towards the end result, a gold for the TEAM!

In a language we may find more familiar, they performed a stakeholder analysis. Reviewed the results of who impacted what and focussed on what could be improved and by whom. They decided that if everyone was just 1% better it accumulates to an overall improvement. Small improvements that accumulate, the aggregation of Marginal gains. Food for thought for those stakeholder engagement activities?

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