I Wish I had a Dollar for Every. . . . .

 genieidea. . .  recommendation that sits on a shelf, suggestion that is not acted upon, training dollar that has no return on investment, report generated that is never looked at, project that is started but never implemented or adopted.  My guess is that each and every person reading this has the same wish.  We participate in studies, surveys, trainings, brainstorming / feedback/ crowdsourcing sessions, and walk away, rolling our eyes because we know that it was a complete waste of time and going nowhere.

An article in Harvard Business Review entitled, “Don’t Ask for New Ideas if You’re Not Ready to Act on Them”  points out that many companies encourage people to contribute new ideas but then have no way to process them on the back end.  We find this to be the case with many, many of our client organizations.  They take the time to engage employees through surveys, contests or brainstorming sessions and then never do anything with the suggestions.  This leaves many employees feeling like their time has been wasted or worse – they are cynical about participating in any future exercises.  The initial intent of “engagement” is great but the lack of planning and follow-through can and will negate any good will that was created.

Now let’s take these examples and apply them to how we operate with our business partners, either internal or external, to examine whether we are guilty of the same behavior.  Have you ever surveyed your “customers” but never followed up with changes, let alone even a summary of the results?  Have you ever requested information or input from your suppliers, but did not take the time to plan what you were going to do with it once it was received.  Every time we do this, we are leaving behind a frustrated partner and one that will hesitate the next time they are presented with a similar request.

So, what do we do about it?  Start with PLANNING – that dreaded process that most people think they can do without, until they realize they can’t.    Before you get started:

  • articulate the problem you are trying to solve or the opportunity you are trying to pursue
  • determine the key questions you need answered to help you solve your problem or pursue your opportunity
  • determine the information you will need  to answer your key questions
  • determine  what you are going to do with the information you gather
  • provide a template to ensure that the information you are getting back can be easily sifted through and analyzed
  • determine how you want to keep your partners informed so they feel that their input was valued and considered (even it does not end up being acted upon)
  • Once you gather input from your partners USE IT

The same process can be applied to other data/information gathering exercises as well.  Let’s take training for example.  Whether you are sending your employees to training or attending a session yourself,  take some time to PLAN what you will do with what you have learnedIf you don’t have a PLAN for utilization, don’t do it.  No utilization = a negative ROI (X amount of cost with no corresponding benefit).  The same can be said for any exercise we go through that does not have a utilization / adoption plan.  In other words . . . . . I Wish I had a Dollar for Every  . . .  because that is the only Value I will see.

Let us know what you think and join in the conversation.

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Dalip Raheja and Anne Kohler Honored by Supply & Demand Chain Executive

ProToKnow_logo_watermark.548eec5ac0849.54ebcf82466c0The Mpower Group is in the business of Mpowering our clients to accelerate superior business outcomes by unleashing the full potential of their Strategic Sourcing / Supply Chain organizations. We are a global consulting firm dedicated to serving the needs of Fortune 500 Strategic Sourcing & Supply Chain organizations.

Dalip Raheja (President and CEO) and Anne Kohler (EVP and COO) have been honored by Supply & Demand Chain Executive magazine as 2015 Provider Pros to Know. This is the 9th  time Anne and Dalip have been listed.

As founding partners of The Mpower Group (TMG), Anne and Dalip have extensive experience in Strategic Sourcing and  Supply Chain Management, Competency Based Talent Management and AcceleratingStrategic Transformations. Both are known as thought leaders within the community and are active speakers and writers. Their efforts through TMG have helped make the sourcing and supply chain organizations of Fortune 500 companies a competitive advantage  and have resulted in multimillion dollar savings.  Their relentless focus on shifting from TCO to Value, Talent Development and Adoption of Solutions  continues to position them as developers of Next Practices, not just Best Practices.

“The Provider Pros to Know is a listing of individuals from a software firm or service provider, consultancy or academia who have helped their Supply Chain clients or the Supply Chain community at large prepare to meet the significant challenges in the year ahead. ”-Editorial Staff,Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

About Supply & Demand Chain Executive

Supply & Demand Chain Executive is the executive’s user manual for successful supply and demand chain transformation, utilizing hard-hitting analysis, viewpoints and unbiased case studies to steer executives and supply management professionals through the complicated, yet critical, world of supply and demand chain enablement to gain competitive advantage. Visit them at www.SDCExec.com.

 About The Mpower Group

The Mpower Group is in the business of Mpowering our clients to accelerate superior business outcomes by unleashing the full potential of their Strategic Sourcing / Supply Chain organizations. We are a global consulting firm dedicated to serving the needs of Fortune 500 Strategic Sourcing & Supply Chain organizations. We help our clients by:

  • Accelerating Strategic Transformation: Rapidly move client organizations along The Mpower Group’s Strategic Sourcing & Supply Chain Maturity Model to peak performance levels.
  • Building Exceptional Talent: Advance the competencies of our clients’ Sourcing and Supply Chain professionals to World-Class performance levels.
  • Maximizing Deal Value: Help clients realize full value from large and/or complex deals by focusing on A) Total Cost of Ownership before and during negotiations, and B) a sustainable implementation once the deal has been reached.

The Mpower Group is a World-Class Strategic Sourcing & Supply Chain consultancy that delivers big results with a boutique feel. We are Woman and Minority owned.

 For additional information about The Mpower Group please visit www.thempowergroup.com.

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Don’t Waste Any More Money on Training in 2015

trainingdollarsIt’s more than just a play on words – if you ask any senior leader what they are getting from their training investments, you will get a very frustrated response.  Yet at this time of the year, everyone is trying to figure out where to spend their training dollars.  I have a simple piece of advice – save your money and spend it on something else-unless you know the answers to the following Key Questions.  And if you are an alumnus of Strategic Sourcing/Supply Chain “U”, these will look very familiar…

What competencies do you need to meet your objectives? You would be surprised at how many organizations waste money on training without understanding the causal link between their organizational competencies and their ability to meet their objectives.  Hint:  If most of your training is in negotiating better deals with suppliers you may want to think again.

When will you need those competencies?  Remember that there is a significant lead time involved in developing competencies.  You cannot send someone to a cross cultural orientation class and send them off to India to develop a new supply base there.  So, if you need that Indian supply base in two years, it may be time to started developing those competencies now.

Do you know if you are going to “rent”, “build” or “rent to build” (TMG preferred model)? You must identify your critical competency gaps and have an overall strategy for each of them.  Are you going to hire consultants(rent), are you going to train people and provide them with the infrastructure-tools, processes, templates etc.(build) or are you going to have a hybrid model where your consultants are charged to help you deliver results as well as build internal capability.

Are you focused on just the functional competencies?   A trap that many organizations fall into is to focus on the “technical” or “functional” competencies not realizing that the Strategic (erstwhile soft skills) are actually far more critical and have a much more causal relationship with meeting objectives.

Are you clear that training does not deliver competencies, only Adoption does?  All research points to the fact that unless adults immediately apply (adopt) what they learn, retention drops to zero very quickly.  Additionally, any value to the organization from the new skills only occurs if and when the new skills are applied.  While both those points may seem very obvious, they are almost always missing from most training programs. TMG alumni will remember this as the Adoption Bridge.  Do you have an Adoption plan that will convert training into competencies?

Are you focused on organizational competencies – not just individual?  Many organizations send people off to training as individuals or in small groups and wait for the Organizational competency to rise.  Organizational competency is a factor of many elements – common process and tools, common training in teams, availability of tools, templates etc., an opportunity to share and learn etc, etc..  To impact Organizational competency you need to move towards Communities of Practice.

Have you thought about the other elements of a Competency Based Talent Management strategy?  While it is great that you are investing in competency development, to really maximize your return, you should also be looking at how you recruit, measure, reward, and develop people.

If you are trying to determine what to do with your training dollars this year, you may want to start by asking yourself some of these questions.  You may also want to make sure that your leadership team is also on the same page.  If you would like some help, we have a few very elegant and powerful tools that we would be happy to loan you to help you to get at some of these issues on your own.

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Avoiding Pitfalls in Strategy Execution

ExecutionPitfallsVery rarely do I find an article that catches my interest such that I read it and reread it several times to make sure that I capture all the gems.  “Why Strategy Execution Unravels – and What to do About It” from Harvard Business Review is a must read.   According to the article, “a recent survey of more than 400 CEOs found that executional excellence was the number one challenge facing corporate leaders” globally.  In addition, “. . . . two – thirds to three – quarters of large organizations struggle to implement their strategies”. 

The authors uncovered five myths and replace them with approaches that they believe will help managers execute strategy more effectively.

Myth 1:  Execution Equals Alignment

Most of the companies studied did a pretty good job in developing the strategy, translating that into objectives, cascading those objectives down through the organization and then putting in a measurement process and rewarding performance.  These tools help to create alignment but do little to ensure execution.  Studies have found that these tools may be effective in managing vertical performance / commitment but not horizontal (across business units).  Since the execution of most strategic objectives require collaboration from multiple functions or business units, that is where the rubber meets the road.  Structures to coordinate activities across business units is what is really needed to improve execution.

Myth 2:  Execution Means Sticking to the Plan

Most of us have been taught to put a plan or roadmap together and then stick to it.  Executives often “view deviations as a lack of discipline that undercuts execution”.  From a practical standpoint, “stuff” happens during execution – both challenges and opportunities – that organizations need to respond to.  Successful execution requires organizations to be agile (not be confused with the AGILE methodology – which does apply here as well).  Managers need to have the ability to be creative in finding solutions to problems that pop up or unexpected opportunities.  The world does not stand still while we are executing a strategy, so as managers we need to be comfortable adapting to that change.  Also, the willingness to reallocate resources freely as you are executing your strategy is key as well. Whether that is shifting budget dollars or moving people between business units to meet changing demands, this can be a critical success factor in execution.

 Myth 3:  Communication Equals Understanding

Many believe that relentless communicating is a key to success.  Communication is CRITICAL, but messaging needs to be targeted, simple and consistent to ensure understanding.  Once communicated, follow up to see that there is a common understanding of the message you are trying to deliver – this step is often overlooked.

Myth 4:  A Performance Culture Drives Execution

While it has been “found that a focus on performance does shape behavior on a day-to-day basis”, that is simply not enough.  We have already discussed they fact that collaboration is the key to execution so why is it that “past performance is two or three times more likely than a track record of collaboration to be rewarded with a promotion”.  In other words, agility, teamwork, collaboration and flexibility are key competencies that need to be present to drive execution.  “Performance is critical, of course, but if it comes at the expense of coordination, it can undermine execution.” 

Myth 5:  Execution Should be Driven from the Top

Strong top down leadership is important and can be a short term strategy.  Relying on the CEO to drive execution can be a costly mistake and can quickly unravel if the CEO departs.  “Effective execution in a large, complex organization emerges from countless decisions and actions at all levels”.  This is known as distributed leadership.  “Although execution should be driven from the middle, it needs to be guided from the top”.  Distributed leaders not senior execs represent “management” to most employees and have the best chance of driving execution.

In summary, companies spend millions of dollars every year to develop a strategy and fall short when it comes to execution.  Instead of throwing more process and tools at the problem it might be time to take a step and back and look at some of the root causes of the problems.  At the end of the day, execution is all about people and how they define it.  Reframing execution as “the ability to seize opportunities aligned with strategy while coordinating with others parts of the organization” will go a long way to helping managers understand where the pitfalls lie.

Let us know what you think and join in the conversation . . . . . . .

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What does the Future Hold- the Science Fiction of the Past? Or, Do you Know what a Dongle is?

aiThis post has nothing to do with supply chain/strategic sourcing – explicitly.  What I do want to share are some data points around technology with you and have you think about what 2015 and beyond looks like.  In the near future, we will post a blog of our annual “walk around” with senior executives to see what they are concerned about and  share some of our current thinking with them.

  • A dongle is a small “appliance” that fits in your hand, is powered by your smart phone and can detect major diseases like syphilis and AIDS and costs $34(sure to go down over time or be subsidized).  The potential impact on mortality rates will be huge.
  • Cars can easily be taken over and controlled by very simple hand held devices – while you are driving.
  • Britain just approved the creation of a human embryo from 3 different parent’s DNA to help eliminate certain diseases.
  • ….also bringing along the fear of “designer babies” that only the very rich can afford.  You may have seen Gattaca where Ethan Hawke buys superior genes to improve his chances for space travel.  There was even a comparison to a “super race” on a comedy show.
  • Virtual golf in your basement puts you in the middle of a very realistic experience and you know what the Wii can do.  Now combine that with something like hololens from Microsoft.  The ability to experience augmented reality in an incredibly real way is here….
  • …which reminds me of a movie from a long time ago – Westworld-that has suck in my memory.  Yul Brynner is an augmented character in an immersive vacation spot but the augmented reality goes haywire and he gains the ability to actually kill Richard Benjamin (a real person).
  • Drones are now being used for disaster relief management, wildlife management, better crop planning, water management and things that we are only starting to identify…we of course know where the technology came from and it’s original use.
  •  If you have been the subject of any telemarketing recently, chances are that you were being subjected to “cyborg telemarketing” – not talking to a human.  This is not a recorded voicemail that you listen to – you actually may have gone through a 5 minute conversation thinking you were interacting with a human….
  • ….and we all remember what cyborgs are capable of – “I will be back”(Terminator) or even Iron Man with Robert Downey Jr.
  • Driverless cars are going to be at your local dealer soon or available to taxi you back and forth (Uber, Google etc.) thus reducing accidents and traffic jams.
  • Employees in Sweden are now being inserted with chips so that they don’t have to swipe ID cards – apparently a major convenience.
  • The predictive power of big data is immense and still being developed and the benefits are only now starting to trickle in…
  • …and it’s also being used to identify potential trouble makers long before they have ever done anything or even thought about doing anything.  Did you see Tom Cruise in The Minority Report?

The confluence of all these technologies is definitely happening and it’s happening at a far more rapid rate than any of us may be aware of.  Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Stephen Hawkings and many others have been sounding the alarm, “AI  is a potential menace to humankind with super-intelligent machines that could run amok”.  A lot of science fiction may magically have supernatural predictive powers or they help shape the imagination of the imaginers who go on to imagine scientific and technological advances.  Some things to ponder about as the new year starts – some food for thought if you will, things to contemplate and muse about as you are sipping a libation or even to get into a heated discussion with someone.


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