If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked that question-well you know how that story goes? At every single conference across the globe I’ve spoken at, that question has been asked in some way, shape or form. Almost every single client has asked that question or some variation thereof. And the ones that did not should have asked that question. You can think about it in terms of what is a critical role that you must fill in your Sourcing/Supply Chain organization or any other internal “support” function (IT, Finance, legal) or shared service to confirm my contemporary bona fides.
Before I give you the answer, we need to make sure that we are asking the right questions. And for those of you that have been through TMG’s decision making module, that refrain will sound very familiar. Remember the New England Journal of Medicine exercise where physicians were asked to evaluate patients for toncillectomies and they were wrong 49% of the time ? Otherwise, we can turn to what a couple of my friends said. Pete says “The most common source of mistakes in management decisions is the emphasis on finding the right answer rather than the right question.” My friend Al goes on to say basically the same thing: “The formulation of a problem is far more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill.”
Typically, would you agree that in most cases (not including yours of course):
- Organizations struggle with convincing their stakeholders of the value they create?
- They face strong resistance in expanding their influence or footprint?
- Budget wars are an annual and the quarterly norm?
- Savings numbers are always questioned for validity?
If any of the above is true, then the answer to the title becomes self-evident. A Marketing person! I kid you not. In the first Sourcing organization I set up in my career 16 years ago we had a full time marketing person (Peter). His job was to constantly market our services and we took a marketing approach to it. This wasn’t about creating some spreadsheets or graphs of generated savings. He had to make sure that we continued to expand our footprint inside the company. To sell our value to the stakeholders. To keep in constant communication with them. To make sure we were getting repeat business. To ensure that we were getting referral to other stakeholders.
Now I’m sure that you are doing all of the above but I’m talking about most of the other organizations. We have not seen a true marketing focus being applied to this effort and I’m always surprised by that. Especially given the tools available today. It does not necessarily mean that you need to have a full time dedicated resource but you do need to fulfill that role. So next time you are sitting in a budget meeting being asked one more time to take another haircut, you may want to think about your marketing effort. Oh, Pete is Peter Drucker and Al is Albert Einstein. Let me know if you would like more details.