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What really defines your effectiveness is how you handle problems. September 1, 2011

Posted by solutionsbconsultants in Accountability, Business Improvement, Procurement.
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A long time ago I was taught that the true measure of leadership was all about how you handled adversity. Project Management and Supply Chain professionals are faced with difficult situations all the time (that is the beauty of the job) and knowing what to do and what not to do is key. After all, everyone acts the way they do for a reason. Most of the time it is “perceptions” that people have either about themselves or others that are the root cause of conflict. And if you get under the hood and discover those perceptions, you will be able to solve most any challenge.

Last night, I attended an Institute for Supply Management (ISM) group had the pleasure of listening to Rhonda Jones Sparks, who spoke to us about leadership development and in particular how to facilitate problem solving and problem ownership. Rhonda has been published with Stephen Covey (Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) and Brian Tracy (National Sales Trainer and author of Turbo Strategies).

The best takeaway from the presentation that will benefit you and your organization was how Rhonda defined the stages of problem solving. You can find Rhonda at http://www.rjsleadershipcoaching.com

Stage 1: Externalizing – Oftentimes this is the part you see when a co-worker is venting about the job. Externalizing is natural but it offers only temporary relief and it distresses others. Sometimes, people get stuck in this stage and continually live in the past or feel like they have been victimized. Everyone has a choice when faced with a problem. The real problem, however, is not the event that just happened, rather it is our “perception” of the options available to us. It is important to use active listening skills during this stage and not offer any solutions.

When faced with a problem, you have three directions that can be taken:

1) You can influence the situation by doing something to change the circumstances.
2) You can accept the situation by creating an internal change within yourself – a letting go
3) You can remove yourself from the situation entirely.

Stage 2: Personalizing – You make a conscious effort to take ownership of the problem and solve or effect change. This empowering step creates hope and shifts emphasis from problem to solution. Brainstorming possible solutions will help the person weigh the cost of the options.

Stage 3: Personalized Deficit – This is the one obstacle or issue which is keeping an individual from moving forward (the real problem). You ask, “What are you not willing to do right now, that if you did, you’d feel better and begin to move toward a solution?”

Stage 4: Personalized Action: Talk through the issues and create solutions. Make sure to answer who, what, when, where and how.

People who don’t facilitate problem solving have the potential for making your workplace into an unhappy, miserable and toxic environment. So if you see someone getting stuck – maybe they are in denial, have a blind spot or a behind-the-scenes enabler, step up and see what you can do to help!

Yours in procurement,
Steve

Steve Gordon specializes in procurement, logistics, cost saving and business process improvement initiatives – call him today at 865.356.3575

Remember what the Aberdeen Group says……….

“For a typical enterprise, it takes an increase
of $5 in sales to equal the impact of
a $1 reduction in procurement costs.”

Solutions is happy to complete a complimentary audit of your firm’s expeditures. Just call or write to get started.

If you want to learn how to save money on a particular commodity, just send me a comment or email me directly. I will do my best to answer your request in a future post.

Respectfully,

Steve Gordon
Senior Consultant
Solutions Business Consultants
http://www.costavoidance.org
__________________________________
”Bringing Service, Value, and Efficiency to the Supply Chain”

steve@costavoidance.org
(865) 356-3575
Skype: stevegordskype
Blog: https://innovativeconsultant.wordpress.com/
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevegordonthecostsavingsguy

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How to Manage the Barrage of New Suppliers Knocking at Your Door January 1, 2010

Posted by solutionsbconsultants in Improving Personnel Performance, Increase Profitability, Procurement.
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I receive hundreds of solicitations “to buy” every week. Some are directed to me, others are forwarded to me by clients. The amount of time required to answer phone, cell and email solicitations is significant. Fortunately, the solution to this barrage requires little in the way of resources and time. I implemented this idea in several engagements and in each case it was monumental in payback. Try this method and save hundreds of staff hours each year.

Every Tuesday, we institute “Open Vendor Day”. Actually, we put aside one or two hours depending on response and had a procurement staff member (we rotate between everyone in the department) conduct five minute meetings with potential suppliers. The format was simple and was given out to the suppliers in advance so that they would not be caught off guard. This technique was conducted on an “in-person” or “conference call” basis depending on the supplier’s location.

Here is what we ask:

1) What products/services do you sell?
2) What is your company’s competitive advantage (i.e. what can you do that others can’t or won’t)?
3) How is this going to benefit my company – what’s in it for me? (i.e. streamline process, cost savings or avoidance, value add, etc.)
4) We expect a proof-of-concept or a “try before we buy” before we will do business with any new supplier and we prefer a transparent relationship – do you have the resources and willingness to do this.
5) Provide us a price list of services and recommendations from other satisfied clients.

Yes, there are a lot of other great procurement/purchasing questions, but we really wanted to keep the meetings short and productive. This is why we sent the questions out before the meeting along with the assigned call-in time. While we could have sent the questions via e-mail, I have found that personal communication is important to gauge the knowledge, sincerity, and culture of the supplier, and it is key for relationship building which, as you know, is the cornerstone of all successful supplier relationships.

Call-in times were actually scheduled 10 minutes apart to allow for time overages and note-taking.

Suppliers that survived this gauntlet would then be invited back for a more in-depth discussion with the appropriate category buyer. It should also be noted that suppliers love this idea. Oftentimes, new suppliers have no way to reach a decision-maker in your company. On more than one occasion, we were able to speak to suppliers who had been previously blocked and whose services we desperately needed – a true win-win.

Remember what the Aberdeen Group says……….

“For a typical enterprise, it takes an increase
of $5 in sales to equal the impact of
a $1 reduction in procurement costs.”

If you have a topic of interest you would like me to discuss in our blog, “in-person”, or see a typo, just send me a comment or email me directly. I would like to hear from you!

Respectfully,

Steve Gordon
Senior Consultant
Solutions Business Consultants
http://www.costavoidance.org
__________________________________
”Bringing Service, Value, and Efficiency to the Supply Chain”

steve@costavoidance.org
(865) 356-3575
Skype: stevegordskype
Blog: https://innovativeconsultant.wordpress.com/
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevegordonthecostsavingsguy