It is debate season in the U.S. and CPO Rising is pleased to enter the fray these next few days with a question that continues to spawn debate within and among the ranks of CPOs and other procurement executives:
What is the best way for a Chief Procurement Officer to implement a new enterprise-wide program?
In general, there are two schools of thought on an approach to rolling out a new policy, process, or solution – School #1: Sell the Vision and School #2: Mandate the Behavior.
Let’s take a brief look at the thought process behind each approach in the form of a mini-debate and use our recent coverage of eSourcing 2.0 as the reason to make it the example initiative for this debate. As dedicated readers well know, here’s our definition of the eSourcing 2.0 policy:
eSourcing 2.0: Every negotiation that results in an executed contract should use an eSourcing solution.
Now, assume that a CPO is fully convinced that eSourcing 2.0 is the right path to pursue. How should the CPO pursue it? What would you do? eSourcing 2.0 is a big change to the natural order of things today. It is an initiative that clearly requires some type of change management. Based in part upon their experiences and in part upon the corporate culture of their employer, CPOs subscribe to one school of thought or the other. Today, we hear from the “CPO as Salesperson”
School of Thought #1: Sell the Vision
Today’s procurement professionals are increasingly adaptive and flexible. Their instinct or tendency is to try to do the right thing for their team, for their department, and for their enterprise – it may not always happen, but the underlying intent behind actions is to do right. In this world, all the CPO must do is offer a few carrots (i.e. small reward) and a firm nudge in the right direction and the initiative will catch like wild fire through the organization. This ‘school of thought’ believes that if the vision and leadership of the Chief Procurement Officer are on target, the procurement/sourcing staff will have no problem following the suggestions made from the CPO’s bully pulpit and the use of eSourcing for every supplier contract will become an important initiative and top organizational priority.
So well-intentioned are procurement professionals that once they have bought-in to the CPO’s initiative, they will begin to evangelize and champion the eSourcing 2.0 cause, acting as CPO-proxies and working to ensure that the message is carried out to the business and functional budget holders.
To source more projects, capture more supplier negotiations in an electronic format, and ultimately position the eSourcing solution as a fundamental enabler of a critical business process and initiative, the Chief Procurement Officer’s job is simply one of marketing and selling to the procurement team and to the larger enterprise. Selling is how enterprises create change. Sell the program vision well and people will adopt it.
To quote former CPO and “friend of the site,” Roy Anderson, “People are like water……” In nature, water finds a path and flows ever gracefully to the sea. In the end, water reaches its destination in a peaceful way with little disruption. Sell it and they will come.