On June 9th Sourcing and Supply Chain executives from a group of Fortune 500 companies from around the world gathered for The Mpower Group’s Next Practices Xchange (NPX) to share ideas and challenge one another on the move “From Cost to Value” within their organizations. This has been one of the hottest topics in our discipline which made this meeting so timely. The day long forum combined thought provoking speakers with workshops and good old fashioned peer networking. Many great ideas were exchanged and challenges were raised. Here is another example of how major companies are moving their Supply Chain organizations “From Cost to Value”.
One of my favorite presentations of the day was delivered by Alistair Donald, the Chief Procurement Officer of Global Procurement Services of ConocoPhillips Company. Alistair’s presentation had a James Bond / Secret Agent theme which made it very entertaining as well as informative. Alistair has a wonderful story to tell of his success in transforming the Supply Management function within ConocoPhillips. Michael Lamereaux from Sourcing Innovation, an NPX attendee, wrote that Supply Management has been a key contributor to ConocoPhillips’ financial success over the last several years in his blog post, Supply Management: Secret Agent of Business Improvement (Key NPX Take Away 5) where he articulated Alistair’s value contributors.
Alistair stressed that having the right talent with the right skills was his greatest asset and his “secret formula” for success. His staff, fondly described as his “secret agents”, are extremely valuable because they are more than just technical executioners. The skills he values most are those that allow his secret agents to deal with all the challenges that arise such as:
- artificial constraints
- strategy changes
- short term focus by the peer group organizations
- talent abduction
- availability of SMEs
- change management
- sleeper agents
Alistair talked about how he inherited a group of mostly Engineers – not a bad thing BUT he immediately identified the need for a more diverse set of skills. He knew that his “Secret Agents” needed much more than technical competency to be successful. As such, Alistair immediately launched an end-to end talent management program to help him create the type of organization that could drive Supply Management Value throughout the company. Those skills are usually described as “soft” skills but are FAR from it. Skills such as:
- change management
- consulting & facilitation
- influencing others
- business acumen
- financial / analytical
- …. just mention a few.
are critical to driving change through an organization. His approach was right on target by identifying cross-functional high potential and recent college grads along with some external expertise Alistair was able to build the organization that drove significant change for ConocoPhillips.
He describes a world where his organization has taken every dollar available from the Supply Base and where they pursue the real opportunities which lie in all the hidden value that can be found by exploring potential business improvement opportunities. This process has already started and Alistair believes he is well positioned to create even more Value.
Alistair’s presentation was enthusiastically received by the group and supported as many of our member organizations are struggling with talent management. In addition, The Mpower Group recently partnered with IACCM to survey their membership on “Are We Leaving Value in the Supply Chain?”
The results support talent management as being one of the key challenges in driving Value throughout the Supply Chain.
Stay tuned for more on the move “From Cost to Value” as we continue to share more on this topic. Please give us your perspective on this very important issue. Please join the conversation . . . . . . . .