A few months ago I was shopping at my favorite retailer with my friend Monica when I grabbed a pair of black pants to purchase. Monica looked at me and said – “Honey, it’s time to shop your closet”! Monica, by the way, is a professional closet organizer and had been bugging me for months to get organized. She was tired of hearing me complain that I had absolutely NOTHING to wear, when she knew differently. So, even though I thought it was a waste of my time and money (the price a pair of designer shoes) I agreed. The activity for me was daunting but hiring a professional made it easy and even fun. What I discovered (I will stick with just black pants) was:
- I had enough pairs of black pants to outfit my entire community
- Some had never been worn
- Many were scattered between several closets so they were not visible to me
- Some needed to be retired
- Some needed minor tweaking and they would be fabulous
By the way, I could tell the same story for green sweaters, pink dresses, brown shoes – you get the picture. What it made me realize was that I had more resources (black pants) than I needed; I was just not utilizing that resource efficiently. By the way, my return on investment for this activity was 30X what I paid Monica; she was a real bargain.
Now let me tie this into our world. Yesterday I was getting ready to meet with a client / prospect – a client because we built a process, toolkit and competency program for their Sourcing organization back in 2005 and a prospect because they have changed leaders three times and we are trying to restart the relationship. The interesting part of the conversation was that they had no idea about the work we had done for them and since they didn’t know it existed they are not using ANY OF IT. In addition, I was told that they needed more people and they had a bunch of technology (Oracle, Ariba, Iasta) that was not being fully utilized. I must admit I was NOT surprised because I hear it often. I am embarrassed to admit this BUT as I was listening I suddenly burst out “Shop Your Closet”. The client looked at me as if I had three eyes until I explained. The same process I applied to my wardrobe (I will explain the process in my next post) they should apply to their resources (people, process, tools, technology, etc.). My guess is that here is what they will find:
- They have enough people, they may not be doing the right work
- Those people have some skills sets that are underutilized
- They may have some resources that need to be retired (people, process, etc.)
- They have enablers like processes, tools and technology they are not using because they are not visible or organized in a way that makes them easily accessible
- They have resources that with a little bit of tweaking (new skills, higher adoption of technology, etc.) would be fabulous
I had another situation six months ago where a client proudly announced that they were putting in a new Sharepoint solution to increase their efficiency. The sad part was that we (The Mpower Group) had already developed a customized Sharepoint solution for them (with a detailed process manual and toolkit) three years ago that they never adopted. In fact we had even laid out an adoption plan/strategy for them that they ignored. How many of your companies have spent millions of dollars on NEW processes, tools, technology, people, etc. only to have it sit on the shelf, never fully adopted and NEVER get the intended business benefits? I would be shocked if it wasn’t 100% of you! This is like having enough pairs of black pants to outfit an entire community yet you are back at the store buying yet another pair.
As professionals we are asked every day to do more with less. As fiscal uncertainty looms, that is not an unreasonable request. The task sounds daunting BUT I bet you would be surprised to find that you already have all the resources (“black pants”) you need under your nose – you just need to find them and ADOPT them. How do you get started “Shopping your Closet”? That, my friends, I will share in my next post.
Let us know what you think and join in the conversation. . . .
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