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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Acceptance not Comparison

As soon as the Paralympics opening ceremony started so did the comparisons with the Olympics - on social media anyway - better or worse, liked or disliked, more or less:

  • sound
  • sights
  • words
  • storyline
  • special effects
  • fireworks
  • goosebumps
  • tears
  • talents
  • presenters
  • adverts (or not)


  • I got caught up with it myself on whether I wanted the adverts in the opening ceremony - but then realised that may be - just maybe - I was being drawn into the illusion we all have about the validity of the comparisons we make. Isn't there a mirror here for what the athletes, and those they physically represent, face every day.

    and so began my journey of enlightenment (the Paralympics opening ceremony theme) - not making comparisons but just accepting the difference of where people (and opening ceremonies) are at - what ever their history - and being inspired by their story, determination, success, failures and achievements to go tell my story and make a difference in the world. Just, and I mean just, like the Olympic Athletes and their opening ceremony the other week.

    So that's where I'm at on what the #Paralympics has taught me so far - what about you - and more importantly what action will that inspire?

    Alison Smith
    The Purchasing Coach
    Sowing the seeds for effective purchasing

    Lends me your eyes picture source: hannasroom.com via Alison on Pinterest

    Tuesday, 28 August 2012

    Language to improve Rapport

    Unlike the language used to improve understanding by undistorting, ungeneralising and undeleting, as discussed in a previous post, there's also 'softer' language patterns that supports rapport and reduces the barriers others can put up when we're communicating with them. It's not often used in business and does have to be used carefully and may not work in certain cultures. For example recent trips to Denmark have highlighted my need to avoid this sort of 'woolly' language when dealing with clients there.

    However it can be very useful especially for those perhaps more likely to reply with "Don't tell me what to do" to statements of intent such as:
    • We must go with supplier X
    • Listen to what David has to say
    • Make these amendments
    Use of Miltonian language can help keep the barriers down and keep the option to agree open. So what about trying:
    • I think the solution is to go with supplier X.
    • I wonder what difference listening to David will have
    • Can you just make these amendments
    These simple additions just give the other person more choice about how they think and act and may therefore ensure they keep listening to what you're saying. Which of course will increase the likelihood of mutual understanding and potential agreement.

    Next time you're asking someone to do something why not simply add in "Just" "I think" or "I wonder" and notice what you notice.

    Alison Smith
    The Purchasing Coach
    Sowing the seeds for effective communication with stakeholders

    PS: One other Miltonian pattern that I find very very useful is if someone is stuck is saying:
    • you may find the solution whilst you go for lunch or
    • you may find the solution today or later this week
    Either way you're presupposing they find the solution and their mind will do its best to support that.

    This post is part of a series introducing some NLP tools and techniques that can significantly improve your stakeholder engagement, communication and team working.

    Monday, 27 August 2012

    Language that improves understanding

    In order to communicate to anyone we delete, distort or generalise in order to give them a condensed map of our thoughts, feelings or memories. We have to otherwise we'd be there all day just asking someone if we could have a cup of tea? That is we have to assume they we have common understanding about what a cup is and what tea is - even if anyone expecting english tea can be a little suprised when they get peppermint tea. 

    The issue of course with condensing meaning is that can lead to miscommunciation - with assumptions being made about what we meant by the few words we did choose to use. I remember having a disagreement with a colleague once where she was telling me what I wanted to do was "wrong." I just couldn't understand why we weren't in agreement because normally we were. So I said "currently there's something missing from my understanding of the situation because I don't understand why you think it's wrong - tell me more - what am I missing?"   
    Effective communication therefore requires us to ask questions to expand our understanding of someone else's map to:

    • change meanings (undistort)
    • retrieve information (undelete)
    • expand limits (ungeneralise)

    In other words we ask open questions - what, how, when, who, where, which, whose etc.

    If we can determine whether someone is generalising, deleting or distorting it will impact the type of questions we ask - such as:

    Distortions:
    "His voice irritates me" - how does his voice cause you to be irritated?
    "Taking calls in a meetings means you don't respect me" - have you ever taken a call in a meeting without it meaning you didn't respect the person?

    Deletions
    "He's a better purchaser" - who is, better than who?
    "They don't understand" - who doesn't?

    Generalisations
    "No-one knows what's going on" - what no-one?
    "I must do this report" - what would happen if you didn't?

    Next time you're just about to react to what someone has said why not ask a few more questions to check understanding - you might just be surprised.

    Alison Smith
    The Purchasing Coach
    Sowing the seeds for effective stakeholder engagement

    This post is part of a series introducing some NLP tools and techniques that can significantly improve your stakeholder engagement, communication and team working.

    Sunday, 26 August 2012

    What gets them out of bed in a morning?

    What gets you out of bed in a morning? What gets those you're wishing to influence out of bed in a morning? or perhaps a better way of asking is what would make you or them listen intently to what is beng said, and what has you zoning out and wishing the meeting/conversation was over. 

    In others words what motives you both? What is important enough for you to want to invest your time on it - to want to get out of bed rather than stay in it - to want to say something at the meeting rather than stay quiet - to want to make the changes rather than not.

    It's our values that determine the answer to these questions. For example a value of safety might mean I don't want anything in my life to change because it's that lack of change that makes me feel safe. Where as a value of adventure, that desire to seek adventure that might mean I'm constantly seeking change. When you're trying to motivate these 2 people then what you say and how you say it will determine the level of success you have and be very different to reflect their different values.

    Our values change dependant on the context - work/ family/ leisure/ health etc. Eliciting values for each of these contexts can take some time but David McClelland gives us an easier way to think about values and that's to define them as being on 1 of 3 categories:

    Achievement
    Are they motivated by achieving? In which case you will hear them say, and need to use, words such as goals, objectives, outcomes, vision, mission, success and results. Or perhaps it's about not failing, or missing deadlines, or not getting it wrong.

    Power/Influence 
    Are they motivated by power or influence? In which case you will hear them say, and need to use, words such as control, power, lead, follow, impact, affect, or autonomy. Or perhaps it's about not: being told what to do, or beign weak, defeated, humiliated or losing their independance? Remembering to notice if it is influence over their own life or influence over others that motivates them the most?

    Affiliation
    Are they motivated by affiliation? In which case you will hear them say, and need to use, words such as connection, recognition, collaboration, harmony, rapport, sharing and giving. Or perhaps it's about not being alone, workin in silos or being ignored, rejected or indifference?

    Even writing these lists reminded me of my preferences. I could write list all day for affiliation and power isn't too bad :). Yet for Achievement I could only initially think of one away from achievement word - failing! Late might work -  what about missing deadlines?

    How are you values impacting the language you use and what changes do you need to make to ensure you're tapping into the values of your stakeholders to improve the impact of your communications?

    Alison Smith
    The Purchasing Coach
    Sowing the seeds for effective communication in Purchasing

    This post is part of a series introducing some NLP tools and techniques that can significantly improve your stakeholder engagement, communication and team working.

    Picture source: blog.ncreview.com via Alison on Pinterest

    Communication styles

    Have you ever wished someone hadn't come to see you and had sent you a one page overview instead, or wished you hadn't been sent a one page summary and wanted to see the full report - appendices and all, or just wished instead of being sent an email with attachments they'd have picked up the phone, or even better come to see you?

    We all have preferences for how we prefer to be communicated to and generally we'll assume people we're communicating to like it the way we do and present it to them accordingly. However that won't always be successful because we're all different.

    That is we all have preferences in how we want to receive the information:
    • visually, auditorally or kinaesthetically (in diagrams for example)
    and what the information contains:
    • detail or not 
    • what we'll achieve by doing something or what we'll avoid instead
    • similarity to or difference from what we're already doing 
    • why we're doing it, what it's all about or how we'll achieve it
    • And so on
    All of these preferences will affect the method we should use to communicate to someone and what style and type of content is most likely to influence or persuade them of what we're saying.

    There are questionnaires you can complete to give you a better understanding of your own preferences and the impact this can have on your relationship at work. Or you can simply use your senses and observe yourself and others to see what works best. Someone's language can provide a lot of useful information on this - although interestingly so too can their body language, tone and breathing!

    One book that covers this in more detail is Words That Change Minds: Mastering the Language of Influence. Although do also give me a call to discuss how this can be applied to your stakeholder relationships - +44 (0)7770 538159.

    Alison Smith
    The Purchasing Coach
    Sowing the seeds for effective communication in Purchasing  

    This post is part of a series introducing some NLP tools and techniques that can significantly improve your stakeholder engagement, communication and team working.

    Picture source: shutterstock.com via Alison on Pinterest

    The Map is not the Territory

    NLP has a number of operating beliefs that it invites us to try on and notice the impact they have on us. One such belief or presupposition is 'The map is not the territory'

    What is a map? It's a condensed representation of reality (the territory). It generalises, deletes and can sometimes distort. You can get lots of different maps for the same location - different scales, different focus (contours, paths, places of interest, trig points etc), different sizes, colour coded and so on. You know when you use a map that it doesn't exactly represent the location, but if you've picked the right one know you've got the relevant information you need. So if you're driving you won't pick up the walking map and visa verse. However just think how differently you'd see the world from each map? Neither is right or wrong just coming from a different perspective.

    That's what our memories are like? Maps of events based on where our limited attention was focused. So my 'map' of an event may be very different to someone elses 'map'.

    Remembering that the map is not the territory can be very helpful in communication. Sometimes it's very easy to express something as if it's the truth rather than our belief or our interpretation of the situation. If we remember that our memory of an event will have generalised, deleted and distorted as much as a real map it can't help but change how we communicate. Remembering of course that the other person has their own map too.

    Alison Smith
    The Purchasing Coach
    Sowing the seeds for effective communication in Purchasing

    This post is part of a series introducing some NLP tools and techniques that can significantly improve your stakeholder engagement, communication and team working.

    Picture source: anthonyuu.wordpress.com via Alison on Pinterest

    Information overload

    In any one moment we can only take in a limited amount of information into our short term memory.

    If you don't believe me just go back to when you first started driving:

    • Listening to the instructor
    • Right hand on steering wheel
    • Left hand on gear stick (or other way around if not driving a right hand drive car)
    • Right foot on accelerator
    • Left foot on clutch
    • Eyes in front/rear mirror/dials
    • Internal dialogue ("HELP!!")

    Which explains why we couldn't listen to music as well and why any additional information such as a busy road, lots of pedestrians or forthcoming junction sent us into a panic. We were overloaded with information and couldn't cope.

    Once we've learnt to drive much of this becomes habitual and does not take up space in our short term memory. Which means we can then listen to the radio, talk to a friend, watch the road signs all at the same time as driving.

    So what impact does this have in communication?

    Obviously the key is not to overload people with too much information or at least enable them to tie it in with info they already have. We also all have preferences on what we prefer to focus our limited attention on - which I'll cover in the next blog.

    How can you amend your next presentation to ensure you don't overload your audience?

    Alison Smith
    The Purchasing Coaching
    Sowing the seeds for effective communication in Purchasing

    This post is part of a series introducing some NLP tools and techniques that can significantly improve your stakeholder engagement, communication and team working.

    Picture source: nissiknows.wordpress.com via Alison on Pinterest

    The meaning of the communication is the response that you get


    One of my all time favourite NLP presuppositions (beliefs it's useful to try on) is "the meaning of the communication is the response that you get." 

    It's a favourite because it's got me out of so many holes with others and has done so time and time again. Why? Because, if someone isn't understanding what I'm saying, it shifts any responsibility from those on the receiving end of my communication back to me. Which is great because it then means I can do something about it. So long as I'm blaming the other person for being for example slow, awkward, tired, arrogant, or any other judgement I'd like to make about their inability to understand what I'm saying, then I can't do anything about changing the situation. If I accept this presupposition then in order for this person, or in the picture above - the whole room, to understand what I'm saying I'm going to have to change what I'm doing because it's clearly not working. 

    I often use the example of wanting to open a closed door - I can keep pushing on it to open, I can shout at it to open but until I realise I need to pull it to open it I'll be getting nowhere. It's the same with people - you just have to find out how their door opens.
     
    Next time you're having problems communicating to someone remember it's your responsibility to change what you're saying to improve their understanding. Other posts in this series on NLP will provide more clues on what changes you might wish to consider.

    Alison Smith
    The Purchasing Coach
    Sowing the seeds for effective communication in purchasing teams

    This post is part of a series introducing some NLP tools and techniques that can significantly improve your stakeholder engagement, communication and team working.

    Bored team picture source: managingamericans.com via Alison on Pinterest

    Door pushing/pulling picture source: media-cache2.pinterest.com via Alison on Pinterest

    Saturday, 25 August 2012

    Neuro Linguistic Programming changed my life

    In 2000 I attended a Neuro Linguisitc Programming (NLP) workshop and it changed my life.

    Actually if I apply what I learnt on my NLP practitioner then the more accurate statement should be..... My life changed positively after I'd attended the NLP practitioner and started to apply the NLP tools and techniques.
    Ok not something you want to hear about in business but it certainly made my life at work more effective too. I remember an internal stakeholder telling me I was easier to deal with after I'd been NLP'd. Interestingly I also felt that she'd been more open to the recommendations we were making. So I was easier to deal with and my ability to persuade and influence had also improved.

    NLP is about our brain (neuro), our language (linguistic) and the habits and beliefs we have (Programming) and how these impact how we move towards what we want to achieve.

    In business communication NLP has helped me understand the unique way in which we all prefer to take information in, how we store it in our brain and how we then choose to share it with others. Understanding our own and other's preferences can then improve our ability to communicate with them. That is to choose a style of communication that enables the person we're talking to to understand what we're saying more easily.

    After my initial interest was piqued in 2000 I went on to study for more than 150 days on the practitioner, master practitioner and then as a trainer. As it's a tool that I use often in the work I do with purchasing teams, and this week as part of a Managing your Talent 2 day workshop with Rosie from NLP Highland, I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite NLP tools and techniques here in the blog, and first shared with clients in my newsletter in July 2009 (where does time go?), see separate blog posts via the links below:
    I'll add more to this list as I write them over coming weeks and months - although here's some recent blogs that also link to NLP without directly mentioning it:
    If you're interested in finding out more about how NLP tools and techniques can be used to improve your stakeholder engagement, communication and team working please do call me +44 (0)7770 538159.

    One book you may also want to consider is Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) Workbook for Dummies . It's very comprehensive without getting too technical. It's often my first point of reference despite having a shelf full of other NLP books - OK - more accurately - despite having shelves full of other NLP books.

    Alison Smith
    The Purchasing Coach
    Sowing the seeds for effective communication within and outwith purchasing teams

    Picture Source: amazon.co.uk via Alison on Pinterest

    Friday, 24 August 2012

    What could go wrong with a dipstick?

    "What could go wrong with a dipstick?" I asked a client. To which his response was "depends on whether you're talking about engines or people."

    As ever with a humorous response it can then get the old mind turning over and whilst we were talking about a purchasing strategy for engines and all its parts (including the dipstick) I wondered how we could apply the strategy to our life and well being in particular. Engines after all:
    • Have an expected life
    • Can have a shorter life due to over work 
    • Need regular MOT's
    • May need reconditioning or repairing
    • Can stop working if repairs aren't done soon enough
    • Can fail to work due to inactivity
    • Sometimes need new parts
    • Need a trained mechanic to mend them
    • Can be damaged by 'tinkering' by the owner 
    • Are impacted by bad driving
    • Need the right energy, fuel and lubricants to keep them moving
    • Are impacted by the environment
    As Castrol suggests on their web site "sludge is engine cholesterol" and the beating engine reminds us all of the likeness between the engine and our hearts.

    Which of the above have you forgotten to do in your life and what action will you take to rectify it so your engine keeps running?

    We've a purchasing strategy on Transmissions to develop too. I've been told they're like my legs so since the doctor recently told me I have arthritis and need a new knee I'm starting to wonder what new strategy for the arthritis I may uncover as a result of our conversations. I will keep you posted.

    Do let me know if I can help you to ensure all the engines in your team keep running - real or metaphorical.

    Alison Smith
    The Purchasing Coach
    Sowing the seeds of effective purchasing in your business

    Picture Source: castrol.com via Alison on Pinterest

    Keeping the Spirit Alive

    The Olympics finished 2 weeks ago with the whole nation seemingly positive, inspired and at peace with themselves and the rest of the world. Every gold was celebrated, every hurdle overcome applauded and every mistake forgiven. When athletes not achieving gold apologised for letting us down in unison we all shouted from our sofa's "You didn't". If they'd measured our happiness score over those 2 weeks we certainly would have been top of that leader board.

    Have you noticed a difference since? Perhaps you've achieved more, worked out more or focused better. Or perhaps you've eaten more healthily, been less critical or looked for the positive. On the other hand perhaps business as usual resumed very quickly with well being going out the window, distractions mounting and back to back meetings taking place with no time to think let alone make changes or stay positive.

    We were talking about the impact of "business of usual" last week at a session on implementing a new e-enabled procurement toolkit. We can do everything on the training day to ensure they understand the benefits of the using the new tools, we can get them comfortable with using them, we can even enable them to use them on real examples to embed the learning and to understand the positive difference they can deliver. The challenge is how to ensure using the new tools becomes business as usual once they get back to the office rather than falling back on what they were doing before?

    If we are to apply learning from those who have successfully made changes to their lives since watching the London 2012 Olympics I'd suggest the following needs to take place:

    1. Desire to change
    2. Inspired to change (others can provide this for you)
    3. Motivated to change (you can only do this for yourself)
    4. Action plan in place (so you know what you're going to be doing)
    5. First step in plan to take place within 24 hours (before you have time for other priorities to get in the way)
    6. Commitment made to others
    7. Being held accountable by others to those commitments
    8. Measuring the benefits (to provide more of 3 above so you continue taking action)
    If you failed to make the desired changes 2 weeks ago, with the Paralympics upon us, why not get into the spirit over the coming weeks and tap into the inspiration needed in step 2 to provide the motivation to take the necessary action.

    Alison Smith
    The Purchasing Coach
    Sowing the seeds for effective change in your purchasing athletes and team

    Friday, 17 August 2012

    Burying our heads in the sand

    As a blogger the adage not to mix business with personal life can become a little blurred - as it has in today's blog. Generally my blogs are fairly safe observations of daily life applied to the work I do whether in business, purchasing or for personal well being. Today's blog certainly isn't safe - and it doesn't apply to the work I do. But that blogger in me won't let me rest until the words swirling around my head and the tears flowing down my cheeks are expressed here.

    Tony Nicklinson, pictured here, has locked in syndrome and wants the right for a Dr to end his life. Today the court rejected his request and have stated it's only the UK parliament that can provide the means to achieving this.

    Legally I'm sure that judgement is right but this issue needs resolution because as a society we can't keep burying our heads in the sand about death. We act as if death has at all costs to be avoided irrespective of the suffering we might impose on someone as a result of our decision. We'd rather them be alive and suffering than dead. How is that compassionate? How is that loving? It's as if we're more worried about how we're feeling than the person in pain.

    We can't keep expecting those severely impacted by the decisions they're asking to change, to employ yet more time, energy and emotion to change the outcome. Would you want that of your final days/months or years on this planet? What sort of sadistic race have we become to stand by as others suffer. If it was an animal in that much pain we'd be taken to court for not putting it out of its misery - in what way is this situation different?

    How can we look on and do nothing shaking our head as we do saying "it's so sad" and then list many reasons it's not possible for Tony to choose to die. I might not make the same decision if I was in his position, or might, but I'd certainly like to believe I had the choice about my own life and death.

    Our ability to extend life has surely gone beyond what anyone could have expected when I was born 50 years ago. As a result there are many people living wonderfully active, or inactive lives for that matter, who are happy for the extra years they have been given. There are many others who wish the very advancements that extended their life hadn't done so.

    When will we allow death to have the same level of advancement applied to it as life? Of course we have to protect the vulnerable, of course we have to understand the mental well being of the person making the decision. Yet we do also have to stop saying it's not possible to end a life and find ways to do so. I for one would not want to be in Tony's situation and know I had no choice about how I live, and if I so chose to die.
    • If Dr's can't do it then let's pull together a job description of someone who can
    • If we're worried about the vulnerable let's identify the criteria that would protect them
    • If we're worried about cohersion let's identify ways of ensuring its uncovered
    • If we're worried about changes in mind lets identify ways to assess their mental well being  
    Here's hoping love and compassion finds a way to resolve the right of everyone to a life and death of their choosing.

    Tony's picture above source: dailymail.co.uk via Alison on Pinterest

    Tuesday, 7 August 2012

    Let actions provide the inspiration


    There's been many from the UK saying that they're enjoying the London 2012 Olympics more than they expected. I'm sure there are many contributory factors: the great opening ceremony, the Queen, James Bond and the corgis, it all taking place on our timezone, availability of live broadcasting for every sport, use of social media, success of #TeamGB etc.

    The lack lustre expectation and enthusiasm ahead of the games was that after 7 years of hearing all about it we were bored of it. We just wanted it to be over. We wouldn't then have to read yet another article, watch yet another programme or read about this that or the other hiccup, be warned again about travelling into London, or enter into yet another debate about whether we liked the London 2012 logo, or have to understand what the mascots Wenlock and Mandeville were all about. Simply put we'd had enough of London 2012 before it began.

    Yet once we allowed the actions to speak for themselves we got it, we got behind London 2012, we got behind #TeamGB, we got behind all the Olympic athletes and now we're hooked. If we don't have tickets we're on the internet or phone trying to get some. Or we're sitting in front of our TV clapping and shouting - ok screaming - encouragement loudly (or is that just me?). Or we're blogging, tweeting, updating and sharing our congratulations and commiserations to the athletes involved and frankly to who ever will listen.

    My take away from all this is not to spend too much time telling people about what I do, and potentially boring them, but just get out there and let the actions speak for themselves. I know the blogs I write and tweets I .. well tweet..  that simply share insight from the day whether at work, rest or play always get a better reception to those where I 'strategically' decide to tell you about something to do with purchasing best practise.

    What about you - how can your actions speak louder to your potential clients?

    Alison Smith
    The Purchasing Coach
    Sowing the seeds for effective action in purchasing

    London 2012 Mascot Picture Source: london2012wallpaper.com via Alison on Pinterest

    Sunday, 5 August 2012

    Do your suppliers have Passion?

    Sally Peake's distress at missing out on getting through to the Olympic Pole Vault final is gut wrenching. Who can look at this picture and not feel her pain and want to hug her and tell her it will be ok. I don't think the blog I wrote yesterday about success not being just about gold would help much :-(. I just hope in time she will be able to be proud of what she did achieve and take the learning to ensure even more success next time.

    The question I'd like to ask you, linked to an earlier blog suggesting that suppliers are just like athletes, is when did your supplier last show this much pain and disappointment in a meeting after things have gone wrong?

    I was in a meeting recently with a client and was in tears because what I'd said would happen did. There's many frustrations about that around how I could have got them to listen to what I was saying earlier. I was told by someone I'd got too close and needed to not take it personally. However isn't that what buyer/supplier relationships are all about - personal relationships. Where suppliers care as much about the business they're supporting as the business does it self. Otherwise why would you not do it yourself?

    Here's to more tears in the meeting room :-)..... ok perhaps not tears but you know what I mean.

    Alison Smith
    The Purchasing Coach
    Sowing the seeds for passion from your suppliers

    Sally Peake Picture Source: dailymail.co.uk via Alison on Pinterest

    Saturday, 4 August 2012

    Success is more than gold

    Claire Balding commentating for the BBC here in the UK got into hot water yesterday when she referred to Rebecca Adlington's bronze in the pool as failure. She did apologise later and said it was just a heat of the moment comment because they knew what Rebecca had hoped for. We've seen other examples of bronze or silver medal winners, obviously having put every ounce of skill, energy and determination into their race, in tears apologising for not getting a gold.

    I understand the athletes reactions. In order to do well they need to believe in themselves. In order to do well they're likely to have visualised themselves winning and they may have done this every day since the last Olympics - or for even longer. It may well be that very envisioning of achieving gold that enabled them to get the bronze - after all aiming for bronze they may not have even got them into the final. I can't even begin to imagine the pressure they've given themselves to succeed. Never mind the media and the nation starting to buy into that vision - no wonder there's disappointment when it's not achieved.

    What disturbed me the most was our reaction - those of us watching. Many joined Claire in the belief that we'd failed - again. Unlike Claire we didn't have to apologise for how we felt so I wonder how many of us still went to bed feeling dissatisfied with the outcome. Before the swimming last night I'd noticed the EDF energy of the nation was 83% positive. Within minutes of Rebecca's swim it has tumbled by over 10%. Yes that's because we tweeted our sadness but what else does it say about how we define success of others? Surely at such times we should have been more positive to support her achievement not joined her in her misery?

    One swimmer, who'd come 6th in the final, said yesterday she'd have eaten her arm to have got a bronze. For her success wasn't just gold - for her it would have been a medal. For others it would have been being in the final. For many others it will have been representing their country at the Olympics. For even more making it into the selection process. So for those of us watching from our sofas surely success for those athletes has to be much more than just gold?

    Here's to all athletes who have a passion and desire for their sport and spend many many many hours, days. months and years perfecting their skills. You might not win the gold but from my perspective every day you get up early and train you're succeeding - winning gold just provides the motivation.

    Alison Smith
    The Purchasing Coach
    Sowing the seeds for success in purchasing

    Medal Picture Source: blog.royalmint.com via Alison on Pinterest

    Friday, 3 August 2012

    Are your suppliers like Olympic athletes?


    At a recent meeting a business owner expressed frustration that a supplier wasn't delivering the service he wanted. I asked a few questions and it became apparent there were a number of things going on. The main element missing had been any objective supplier selection criteria. That is if he'd thought about it objectively he'd not have chosen the supplier he had.

    I wondered what the process would have looked like if selecting a supplier was the same as the selection of athletes to win an Olympic medal. What could he have done differently in order to more closely match the suppliers skills and expertise with his needs.

    Athletes
    Like suppliers athletes excel in disciplines they have the passion for and skills and expertise in. Success may be determined by a degree of innate expertise but otherwise excelling in a discipline will be determined by appropriate and effective: physique, endurance, fitness, diet, well being, determination, training, coaching, mentoring, support etc. That is they are continually undertaking activities that improve the skill and increase the consistency of delivery.

    Choice of athlete
    When the team is selecting an athlete to represent them they will consider: the discipline they train for, past and current achievements, their routines for sustaining their expertise, their passion, their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being, the support they have, their reaction to stress, etc. It's only once they have undertaken this assessment that they can understand how well these athletes meet their requirements today, and in 4 years time when the Olympics arrives, and how they compare to others.

    In the instance with the business owner I think he had invited a retired 100m butterfly Olympic medal winner from 1996 to take part in the 400m freestyle. No surprise then that it didn't work out. 

    Have you chosen Olympic athletes as suppliers or did they just take part in the egg and spoon race at the local school and come last!

    Alison Smith
    The Purchasing Coach
    Sowing the seeds for Olympic athletes as your suppliers

    Gold medal picture Source: dailymail.co.uk via Alison on Pinterest

    Thursday, 2 August 2012

    We get what we focus on

    After a most inspiring London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony on Friday many tweeted their congratulations to all involved. Many like me blogged about it and I know a day hasn't gone by since when I've not spoken, blogged or tweeted about it with others inspired and with pride and positivity.

    It's a pity therefore that the next day the tweets changed from general positivity to negativity. We Brits started to do what we do best and moan and notice all that went wrong rather than what was going well. Although I'm sure with the medals starting to come in for Great Britain that may change.

    I just wish we'd all remember 2 things:

    * We get what we focus on, and
    * The golden ratio for effective and long lasting relationships is 5 positive interactions to 1 negative interaction - see John Gottman here on YouTube explaining more.

    Every night from 2100 for an hour the lighting of the London Eye is reflecting the % of positive Olympic London 2012 tweets from within Great Britain for the day. So here's hoping that the London Eye remains over 84% illuminated to continue to keep alive the hopes, dreams and possibilities of the world which came together in the opening ceremony and continues to be represented by the Olympic Cauldron.

    Alison Smith
    The Purchasing Coach
    Sowing the seeds for positivity within your purchasing team

    PS I promise not to write anything negative for another 5 blogs :-)

    London Eye Picture Source: bbc.co.uk via Alison on Pinterest

    Wednesday, 1 August 2012

    Anything is possible

    I've put the above picture in my Anything is possible board on Pinterest because it is.

    For me what happened at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics is a great reminder that next time we have a creative and yet possibly a little too out there idea, not to make assumptions about whether others will accept it or not and to simply put it forward.

    I'd hazard a guess that a larger majority of people would have discounted suggesting the idea to the queen of her meeting James Bond and seemingly going for a skydive. Yet someone did and she said yes and it went on to being one of the surprising highlights of the evening.

    Next time you get a creative idea just remember ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

    Alison Smith
    The Purchasing Coach
    Sowing the seeds of potential in purchasing in your organisation

    Picture of the Queen, James Bond and Corgis Source: bbc.co.uk via Alison on Pinterest