Next Practices Xchange (NPX)- Part 2

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As we formally announced last week, NPX is being re-launched with the 1st meeting being held on September 14th.  Please mark your calendars because that date was picked to help those travelling to enjoy a great weekend in Chicago (best time to visit!!).

Please click here to learn more about NPX which is a very successful yet small Community of Practice of senior leaders in Supply Chain, Procurement, Sourcing, etc.  The two topics chosen were:

  1. Going Beyond TCO and becoming a Strategic Partner – not just a cost cutter
  2. Talent Development – How to Crack the Code

Last week we discussed the first topic.  Today, I will share some thoughts on the 2nd.    

For many years (more than we care to count) Talent Management keeps coming up as one of the top three issues on the minds of CEOs.  How to recruit, develop and retain top talent continues to be of concern and as the economy improves the war for talent rages on.   After you successfully recruit today’s stars, what development programs do you put in place to ensure they become tomorrow’s leaders?  Should you focus on developing functional / technical skills alone OR are you looking at those skills that are critical for future leaders?  Are you focused on building competency or merely delivering training?  Do you have programs in place to force the application and adoption of new skills?  Are you interested in building individual competency, organizational competency or both?   These are the types of questions we will explore as we “crack the code” on talent development. 

As many of you know, one of the passions of The Mpower Group is to help organizations develop the Supply Chain / Purchasing / Sourcing talent of the future.  Our commitment to this stems from our own experience in trying to build a Strategic Sourcing organization from scratch back in the late 90’s.  We hired a TOP consulting firm and asked them to train our people.  What we were given was a number of two-hour sessions on “how to execute the Strategic Sourcing process”.  Perfect!  Not so much.  We quickly discovered that when we teamed up our people with our consultants, there was a significant difference.   We asked ourselves at the time “what was the missing link”?  Our approach, which is the underpinning of our offerings today, was to take a step back and make sure we were asking the right questions:

  • What are the business results we are trying to achieve?
  • What are the challenges we are facing and what is needed to overcome them?
  • What skills do we need to achieve our business results and overcome our challenges?

As we started to answer those questions, we quickly realized that providing functional training (e.g. Strategic Sourcing process training) was simply not enough.   Our challenges in particular were all internal and functional training was not going to help.  At a minimum, we needed to determine which new skills and behaviors were required for our people to overcome our challenges in addition to achieving the desired business results.  We quickly realized that it was strategic competencies (often referred to as “soft skills”) such as communication, change leadership, collaboration, and problem solving where we had the largest gap.   As a quick fix, we put our employees through a “consulting boot camp” which was the same training our external consultants had been through.  But this was only a quick fix.  We knew that we were trying to build an internal consulting practice and it was going to take more than training classes to get there.   We eventually accomplished our goal and have used our many years of experience, research and lessons learned to crack the code on talent development.  How did we and your Next Practice peer organizations do it?  Well, you are going to have to join NPX and attend the next few meetings to find out 🙂 ! 

Let us know what you think and join the conversation. 

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Anne Kohler
Anne has been leading consulting and financial management organizations for over 25 years. She has extensive expertise in Strategic Sourcing, change management, contracting & contract management (both the buy side and sell side) organizational design and supply chain management. Anne has a passion for collaborating and educating her clients while helping them to uncover hidden value in their organizations. In addition, Anne has been named by Supply & Demand Chain Executive as a “Top 100 Provider Pro to Know” every year since 2007 and a 2013 Top Female Supply Chain executive.
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