As promised, here are some thoughts and observations from the conference. As we have observed in the past, this is one group where professionals from both sides get together and talk about their respective processes. What has been fascinating to watch is how the language has changed in this community from contracting to commitment to relationships. While there were still a few slides that talked about control and compliance being the main outcome, it was pretty obvious that the train has left the station on that one and most people are already on board having a great time on the relationship express 🙂 !!
I am again expressing hope after this conference that there is clear recognition from both sides that their respective processes are cumbersome and instead of adding value, they may be destroying value. During the sessions that I attended, there was acknowledgement that most of these processes are anticipating and planning for failure instead of facilitating success of the relationship. A significant amount of time is spent in adversarial wrangling and exercising power during the pre-nuptial phase by the process owners on both sides and then they hope for a successful relationship – really?
It was also painfully obvious that most in our community are still focused on those outcomes that we are measured by (cost/sales – depending on which side you’re on, process efficiency, etc.) and not on the outcomes that are desired by our stakeholders. This will continue to be an issue and a constraint for both sides and much more work is needed in this space. This is also the main reason why corporations are reluctant to invest more in these functions (people, technology, etc.) because they do not see the connection to their desired outcomes – it continues to be a back office, support-type activity for them and not tied to their (stakeholder’s) Value Drivers (outcomes).
We also met some very interesting people with some very interesting roles who we intend to follow up with. A SVP for a very large, global corporation (Hello Bob P. 🙂 ) whose job it is to “fix” large, complex, multi-year projects that his company is delivering that are not performing well. What was fascinating was that most of these were failing because of a common set of issues and themes – and almost all of them had to do with Change Management issues that were Predictable and Inevitable before the project started. For our alumni, that should sound like a very familiar theme and for you Rapid Launch users, you are probably jumping up with suggestions 🙂 . They all had to do with lack of alignment between key stakeholders, clear accountabilities and communication challenges – these are our words and apologies to Robert for over simplifying his very complex life 🙂 .
We met another colleague who recently made the switch from the buy side to the sell side (Hi Darryl S. 🙂 ) and is developing a unique perspective on this topic. Now that he is applying a totally different lens, I’m sure his opinions are changing rapidly and it will be fascinating to see how it impacts the processes and behaviors of his new organization. I’m sure he wishes that he could go back to his buying organization and make some changes there based on his sell side experience 🙂 .
We think this an important topic to watch as this may get us over the hump into the collaborative world and move us towards relationships where contracts are a mere tool along the way – so both sides can focus on a successful marriage instead of planning for an eventual divorce?? We are going to continue to play an active role in this debate and hope to influence the discussion and potential changes. If you would like to contribute your thoughts and ideas, please do not hesitate to contact us.