It is debate season in the U.S. and CPO Rising is pleased to enter the fray these last 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 (click on that link to see this school’s argument) 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 Authoritarian”
School of Thought II: Mandate the Behavior
Today’s professionals lack the tools for change. Worse, they fear change. Yes, inertia and the fear of change have conspired to constrain and restrict the department. The only thing that outweighs this deadly combination is a big stick. Time to start whacking – can I have your attention please? The directive is clear, follow the code or else. Watch as the staff quickly falls in line and then actively trains and recruits the rest of the enterprise on the rigors of eSourcing 2.0. To source more projects, capture more supplier negotiations in an electronic format, and place more spend under management, the Chief Procurement Officer must employ a command and control strategy. Mandating behavior fits this style.
To quote former CPO and “friend of the site,” Roy Anderson, “People are like water….” You must build dams and canals and guide the flow where you want it to go. “If you build it, they will come” is based on a work of fiction. Field of Dreams, the movie which introduced this phrase into the American vernacular in the late 1980s, was
a great an ok film; but, it was a work of fiction, nonetheless. The real quote from the movie is “if you build it, he will come.” He? Who’s got time to worry about one person? Do you want results? Lay a mandate and track usage often. Full Stop.
While today’s debate has ended on these pages (for now anyway), it is one that we expect will continue across the procurement industry.
What school won your vote? Email me if you have any thoughts on this…