Supply Chain Leadership Summit – Houston


I was invited to conduct two workshops for about 80 senior executives at the Supply Chain Leadership Summit yesterday in Houston.  Let me share some of the discussions I had because I think you will find them as interesting as I did – at least I hope you do.  Events like this are important for us as they allow us to keep a finger on the pulse of current thinking amongst senior leaders in our profession.

I would like to start by giving a shout out to Tom Derry who is the CEO of ISM and point out a key message I heard and readers of this blog, participants in our webinars and members of PERT will have heard this before ad nauseam – Procurement/Supply Chain should be embracing top line (revenue) as one of their goals.  Hallelujah!!!  I honestly was not expecting to hear that at an ISM event and was very pleasantly surprised so much kudos to Tom!!

My 1st workshop was titled “How to Attract and Retain the “A” Team” and it was confirmed that having the right talent continues to be a big challenge for everyone.  Finding the right people, developing  and retaining them is still a conundrum and organizations have not yet figured out how to solve it.  Organizations have not yet developed a comprehensive Talent Management strategy despite admitting that talent is their main asset to create and generate value.  Why not have an asset optimization and maximization plan just like we would for any other critical assets we have?  The second major point was that training budgets are under constant threat because organizations do not see value from their training investments –  perhaps because there is no ADOPTION plan or bridge to ensure that the new knowledge and skills are actually applied.  What value is provided to the organization if I know how to do something new, unless I actually do the new thing?  There was strong receptivity to the idea of creating a desired competency model and applying it all the way back to the recruiting process and interviewing to confirm competency and not just knowledge.  Finally, I broke the room up into different groups to distribute 100 points amongst seven competencies (Change Management, Collaboration, Consulting / Problem Solving, “Customer” Relationship Management, Innovation, Business, Industry & Enterprise Knowledge, Functional / Technical) and lo and behold, much to their surprise, the tactical/functional competency got exactly the same score from all the groups – a whopping big 5%!!  Yet they all acknowledged that their current recruiting and training programs were still geared towards those competencies.

My 2nd workshop was titled “Making the Transition from Strategic Sourcing to Category Management”.  I showed the attendees the title of an article we published in 2010 which said Strategic Sourcing is Dead and if Not it Should Be.  The point I was trying to make was that the insistence on going after the lowest price/cost meant that the sourcing process could not survive and here we are seven years later talking about Category Management.  What became quite clear is that there is still no clear definition of what Category Management is.  There were some in the audience who believed they had been doing Category Management 8-10 years ago and they are right – they had been doing something that they called Category Management.  We must clearly all come to some general agreement on a definition of Category Management so that we all have a common North Star.  I told them that the movement to CM is very recent and we are in the transition phase.  What was interesting was that a large number of hands went up when I asked how many were making the move to Category Management yet they all had a very different version of what it was.  You may want to check out our current webinar series titled “The Journey from Strategic Sourcing to Category Management”?

All in all, it was a great event and Mark Waddleton (ISM President Houston) and the board did a great job in organizing it and I appreciated being invited to participate.


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