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Chicago Sourcing Leaders: How to Successfully Move Your Procurement Function Forward

What do a British cyclist coach and a Japanese hot dog eating champion have in common with sourcing transformation? The answer: they both focus on making small, but powerful, changes that lead to big outcomes.

At last week’s Chicago Sourcing Leaders event, Simon Geale of Proxima Group, a leading procurement services company, and Stan Garber of Scout RFP broke down how anyone, given the right mindset and tools, can begin a journey of change within their organization. Let’s dive into a few different ways you can move your procurement function forward:

First, Change Your “Transformation” Outlook

“You have two options: stand still or change,” says Proxima’s Geale. Indeed, leaders cannot stand still; if they do, they fail. So, how do you break through that mold to advance your team forward? Overhauling your org is challenging, and sometimes, the idea of transformation can conjure up ideas of expensive consultants and lengthy implementations.

But according to expert Geale, the first step is simply to adjust your perspective of “transformation.” There’s no one size fits all, proven by thousands of leaders all over the globe discovering their own paths and mastering their version of transformation. It can be done: professionals everywhere start by re-evaluating their own thinking, their impact, and lastly, their function. “Small changes lead to big outcomes,” stated Geale.

Anyone Can Become a Leader Seeking Change

Benefits of a constantly changing landscape? The evolving standards of what “success” looks like. Today, anyone can become a leader; you don’t need a C-level title next to your name to make waves throughout the enterprise.

As Geale of Proxima pointed out, “Everyone in this room is a leader. Everyone has the power to transform, and to change their functions.” Using real-life examples of people who wanted to be the best, Geale proved that, with perseverance and incremental career moves, anyone can achieve greatness.

One such example, Sir David Brailsford, pivoted Britain to be the greatest cycling nation in the world by focusing on the small stuff. Tiny tweaks like painting the floors white to avoid dust and having athletes sleep with the same pillow to better aide recovery gave way to the UK winning five Tour de Forces and an 80 percent rate of gold at the Olympics.

Another underdog, Japanese competitive eater Kobayashi, used unconventional training methods to make a name for himself. Roughly weighing in at 130 pounds, he broke the world record, doubling the original number of hot dogs from 25 to 50. How? By splitting them in half and dipping them in water, Kobayashi shot himself to the top of the food chain. All due to marginal improvements that, over time, made the lanky competitor a household name.

As Geale noted, you “dream in leaps, and improve in steps.”

How Does it Relate to Procurement?

So, how does this tie into Procurement? Proxima’s chart above outlines the small yet powerful ways anyone can create a strategic sourcing organization. Just like Sir David Brailsford and Kobayashi, tech giant, Zebra Technologies, established a powerhouse team based on small steps, time, and trust. By listening to their biggest customer’s needs — Marketing — and taking into account each member’s skills, Zebra’s team became better aligned with Marketing and eventually, other business units. Now, Marketing never makes a purchase without consulting their sourcing counterparts. As the old saying goes, slow and steady wins the race.

Be Part of the Conversation — Join Us at Our Next CSL Event!

With each Chicago Sourcing Leaders, there are new people to meet and trending ideas to discuss. So, please join our next Chicago Sourcing Leaders event, and check out the LinkedIn group to stay updated on future networking opportunities and roundtable discussions.

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