“The funny thing about truth is you cannot change it. When something is true, it is true.”
- Dan Andrew, p. 20
Since I stepped back from running Spend Matters Europe at the end of 2018, I have had more time for cycling and my bass guitar (although if you heard me, you might not be convinced that I’ve improved …) But I have been busy with more business-like activities too, and on October 8th, one of the results will become obvious when Penguin Business publishes “Bad Buying – how organizations waste billions through failures, frauds and f*ck-ups” (available to pre-order),
“Naturally, Industry 4.0 requires a new procurement. The factors driving the change are the hyper-competition, globalization, supply chain risks, resource scarcity and many more. But the most important one is the technology - big data, digital processes, and automation.”
- Sergii Dovgalenko., p. 4
“Customers are the key to any business, the prime reason for a company to exist! In the current digital era, customers are no longer passive buyers of products at the end of the value chain, but active partners throughout the lifecycle of the products and associated services.” - Amit Sinha, p. 205
“The advent of new technologies – most notably blockchain – has the potential to radically transform how transactions are recorded, stored and used throughout supply networks. The result: a transparent supply chain that, if the hype holds true, will usher in unprecedented levels of visibility, accountability, efficiencies, collaboration and trust.
- Remko Van Hoek et. al., p. 1
Leadership by Storytelling: The Best Way to Learn Good Leadership Skills, by Dr. Tom DePaoli, is the latest in a long line of books that are firmly based in reality and provide advice that is easy to put into practice. I’ve read and reviewed many of Dr. Toms’ books and you won’t find the same kind of time-tested, easy to read books from many other authors in our field. If you find yourself thinking that most procurement books seem too academic, he may just be your new favorite author.
In this latest book, Dr. Tom focuses on the importance of developing leadership skills by leveraging storytelling, a practice he employs in the book. He shares many of the best leadership experiences from his career and clearly points out the lesson to be learned from each one.
“Because however brilliant our category strategies or engagement roadmaps, relationships still do matter, and nowhere more so than in how we interact with our critical internal stakeholders.”
Reading “A Procurement Compendium: Advice, analysis and humour for buyers (and those who sell to buyers) everywhere” by Peter Smith, former Managing Editor of Spend Matters UK/Europe, is more like having a conversation with a friend than it is absorbing a career’s worth of insights by yourself. I know Peter is fond of meeting up with colleagues at the pub to discuss procurement – or at least he did before he retired, now he probably wants to discuss anything but procurement. That said, the tone and content of this book might have been lifted right out of those conversations.
“Managing others is not for the faint-hearted or the inattentive.” (P. 147)
The Self Determined Manager: A Manifesto for Exceptional People Managers by David Deacon is exactly the kind of book busy fellow professionals tell me they like to read. It is straightforward, actionable, clear on a key central philosophy, and it is not so long that it can double as a door stop.
I come from a family of teachers, a profession that I would be very poorly suited for, and there was a connection between teachers and managers that came to mind as I read this book. Both roles are much harder than they look, require a certain kind of personality or demeanor in addition to training and experience, and there are far too many people in both roles that are lousy at them. I believe it is safe to say that anyone who has been in the workplace for more than a couple of years has had a bad manager, but very few of us can say we’ve had exceptional ones.
A Guide to Positive Disruption: How to Thrive and Make an Impact in the Churn of Today’s Corporate World by Joanna Martinez delivers a striking combination of advice, tough love, and hope. With this one included, I have reviewed 87 business books in my time at Buyers Meeting Point, but I have never reviewed a book where I already knew the author so well. It is ironic, because this book is intensely personal – not in the biographical sense, but in the way that Joanna lays her professional experiences open for examination, and invites the reader to do the same with their own.
“The only time they don’t say ‘Drop your pants’ now is at the Christmas party.” (p. 10, Epstein on sales' common interations with procurement))
The Ultimate Showdown Sales vs Procurement: The Secrets Unveiled at the Negotiation Table by Elliot Epstein and Paul Rogers (2018) is an absolutely fantastic book. In addition to getting two open and unapologetic perspectives on business, I was also left with the feeling that I had made two new friends.
The format of this book is unique, written entirely like a play (one paragraph at a time with the ‘speaker’ identified in the left margin), but it is fitting for the message and experience the authors want to deliver. We don’t need another buttoned-up, polite analysis of how sales and procurement have different approaches, challenges, and incentives – and the authors haven’t given us that. Instead, we get sales (represented by Epstein) and procurement (Rogers) having a debate. If the angel on your shoulder could have a sarcastic exchange with the devil on your other, I imagine it would read much like this. I won’t suggest which function (sales or procurement) is on which shoulder.
“I cannot guarantee whether you will be successful after a well-prepared negotiation, but I can 100 percent guarantee failure or finding yourself outsmarted and in a concessionary position if you choose not to do a thorough prep prior to a negotiation.” (p. 38)
Mastering High Stakes Negotiations: Both Sides of the Table by Mark M. Bilgin, Ph. D. (BookLocker.com, 2017) is true to its title in that it lays out all of the considerations associated with the most critical, highest dollar value negotiations conducted. In an odd way, however, even meeting that high bar is still selling the book short.
If you are a people watcher, or a student of human behavior, you will absolutely love this book. I was immediately drawn in by the author’s use of case studies, both his own and the ‘outside’ experiences of others to illustrate in colorful but honest fashion the incentives and pitfalls associated with negotiation prep. Negotiation is, at its simplest level, the use of leverage, exchange, and (somewhat) predictable human behavior to bring parties together for their perceived benefit. As a result, you can not be a master negotiator without being aware of and interested in what people say and do. That may come as a great relief to anyone that still thinks negotiation is about aggressively dominating ‘them’ to get what is best for yourself at any cost.
This week’s webinar notes are from a May 23rd event hosted by BravoSolution (part of their 2017 Real World Procurement Series) and presented by Dr. Rob Handfield, Executive Director of the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative, and the co-author of The Procurement Value Proposition and a new title being released in June, The LIVING Supply Chain: The Evolving Imperative of Operating in Real Time. The webinar is already available on demand here.
“This supply chain is the bridge between the customer needs of a market segment and the value-added of a product. If we can’t connect the two, then we have a show stopper.” (p. 4)
Supply Chain Construction: The Basics for Networking the Flow of Material, Information, and Cash by William Walker (CRC Press, 2016) is an impressive work that combines exhaustive supply chain planning considerations, processes, and figures with a narrative that keeps all of the information provided firmly rooted in reality.
I met the author in person at the February 2017 ISM Economic Forum in NYC where he participated in a panel discussion I moderated. Although Bill is an adjunct professor of supply chain engineering at NYU, the book is far from academic. It illustrates critical business principles through plausible real life examples that make their lessons easy to understand and recall long after reading them.
Kelly: Hello, and thank you for joining us today. This is Kelly Barner, Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point. Today I welcome Dr. Carsten Linz as my guest. Carsten is an entrepreneurial leader and expert on innovation-led business transformation that I met in the process of reviewing his recently co-authored book, "Radical Business Model Transformation: Gaining Competitive Edge in a Disruptive World." I will make sure there is a link to my review on today's BlogTalkRadio episode page so that you can learn more about the book. And if you're interested in more of Carsten's writings, I will also share a link to his blog where he further explains and explores some of the themes from the book.
Last month, my co-author Jeanette and I had a conference call scheduled with Jon Hansen for an introductory conversation about our book, Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals (shameless plug here). For some reason, Jon’s Canadian location prevented him from using my conference call account and we ended up in the virtual green room of his Blog Talk Radio studio. What that means is that, for better or worse, the call was recorded. (You can listen to it here.)
On September 3rd of last year, Jeanette Jones, Owner and Founder of Cottrill Research, suggested (out of the blue!) that she and I co-author a book. There was never any question of whether or not I would do it. I’ve always wanted to write a book. I enjoy doing research and I have been fascinated with procurement ever since I ‘fell into’ the profession in 2003. Jeanette’s suggestion that we write a book to help procurement professionals create their own supply market intelligence combined all three.
Can China Lead?
Reaching the Limits of Power and Growth
Can China Lead?, by Regina M. Abrami, William Kirby, and F. Warren McFarlan, asks a question that can not be definitively answered but is well worth asking. The authors seamlessly combine their knowledge of China’s history, people, and politics to advise companies looking to engage in commercial interactions with one the world’s second largest economy (As ranked by GDP by the United Nations, 2012). As the authors state in their Introduction, “Chinese businesses compete globally, now going head-to-head with North American and European corporations in telecommunications, heavy machinery, and renewable forms of energy.” (p. x)
Negotiation for Purchasing Professionals is the second book by Jonathan O’Brien that we have reviewed. Earlier this year we reviewed Category Management in Purchasing. While each of the books has a different focus, they have more in common than just an intended audience. The most striking similarity is a clear desire to improve the knowledge and capabilities of purchasing professionals by capturing O’Brien’s considerable experience and communicating it in a straightforward manner.
The best way to predict the future is to create it.
- Peter Drucker
If we knew what the future held for procurement, we would undoubtedly change some of what we are doing today. Since is it impossible for any of us to be certain about the future, our best option is to form a vision for what we hope the future will hold and align our initiatives to that vision.