A few years ago, I went for some counselling sessions and met with the psychologist, nice guy, and he started off with asking me some random questions such as: Why are you here? What do you expect to get out of these sessions? Who are you?
He did not like my answer…I replied with a qualifying question: “Who do you want to talk to? I have about 10 different personalities who are dying to talk to you and have all different objectives for being here so shout?” He looked worried and just asked me one further question: “ Do you talk to them? And I advised him: “ Not only do I talk to them, they talk to each other and most of the time, we are having a great time, great conversations and lots of challenges but we do get along but maybe that is not for our first session?”…. He uttered: Ok, this is not a healthy situation…
This story might worry you a little bit too… I get it, however I would put it to you that you too have these internal conversations with yourself(ves): you make decisions 1,000 times a day and it depends on the different priorities on that moment, in that hour, for that day, week, month, year that you pick your best possible decision, it depends on what voice in your head or your heart is shouting the loudest.
In an ideal world, Procurement professionals deal with these decisions every day and this is not an internal conversation, but always an external one, as we are facilitators in a real competitive environment where data has become king but trust is divine. We are the interpreters of our internal and external stakeholders who put different demands on us to deliver, the facilitators of the trade game, the referees that need to whistle when one of the players is offside. And sometimes, we are the ones who are offside and we need to be curtailed too. Procurement professionals are – redistributing a lot of money, and getting the decision, the facilitation, the interpretation, the delivery wrong, can cost any procurement professional and his company dearly.
Two things, this decision- making process has in common:
Firstly, it is always about people, people playing with people, selling to people, buying from people. All the modern technology tools of the digital world will not change that, in fact, it makes the ”whites of one’s eyes” even more important. And let’s be honest, pretending that one tool is better than the other is just arrogant. The chosen tool needs to fit the purpose of the brief, nothing more or less, the best value delivery against the objectives should always be the main driver in the choice of tool, it is the people who use it, (or abuse it), that are the differentiators in this process.
Secondly, every game, every play, every competition has rules, rules of engagement, rules of do’s and don’ts, rules that you need to obey, and if you don’t, there are consequences, you are ruled out, you get a yellow card, you lose your queen, the other is being favored. You lose, you are in negative balance, you have a lost sale, you made the wrong decisions, you picked the wrong side, you are penalized.
We as procurement professionals, in-house or outsourced, we can not do the right things and doing it right if we don’t believe and practice the below simple rules and play our role:
- It is about understanding, qualifying and validating these demands from all your stakeholders and challenging them on all the reasons why and even more the questions why not? Before we can follow the right process to excel as trusted advisors of the decision, we need to know what our customer needs, what he wants, what his walk away minima are and what his utopia is. All these scenario’s of demands are necessary.
- It is about researching the market, knowing what the supply base can and can not offer, and sometimes thinking outside the box to be able to deliver in the box. It is about knowing the service, product, category, competition, offering, future and past. It is about being or becoming subject, category-matter experts. We are procurement professionals, we have the expertise to lead if you are willing and able to follow the yellow brick road.
- And last but not least, it is not following the process that will give you the right decision, it is following the process with the right intentions. The selection criteria for the decision and their relative importance to the overall outcome can not be underestimated at all. And how much we want to have the decision quantified, rationalized, analyzed and validated by data, there is always that element of subjectivity, emotionality, likes and beliefs involved that can not be put in a matrix, in a box, on an excel file or a PowerPoint presentation – it is the trust building criteria, the passion you can transfer from your company to theirs, the vision and values you stand for, the people you put forward to over-deliver. It is where the supplier’s value matches the buyers intent. It is where people come towards each other in an equal way, they blend their visions and become change collaborators for the betterment of both parties. I wish I could bottle it, no, I would not be rich, we all would be richer. As R. Satoro says: “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”
We are all actors in a wonderful play in which your rational or emotional decisions will determine the end, before the curtain falls; we are all pieces on a chessboard that either we have in hand or we have to capitulate; we are all players in a team sport and the competition is simultaneously ruthless and personable, fair and unfair; we are all big kids in the playground and some of us are bullies and most of us are not.
Let’s be clear: we are all people dealing with people and I believe that what is true in real life, is as much true in business: “Givers get” (thanks Phil). We all benefit when we take advantage of our cooperative and collaborative natures; let’s all become change collaborators in our respective worlds and guess what? We will all be winners in that play of life.
This is my Sherlock on the yellow brick road story about me, about e-Quiddity, my company. To be honest, and if you want to cut a long story short, it is not about me, it is about you…
This is a place where equal contracts matter, but people matter more. Thorough negotiation counts, but common sense wins out. Where balanced decisions are key based on data deduction and stakeholders approvals. We as people, we all negotiate a 1,000 times a day and some are more interesting and fruitful or successful than others. I find myself most of the time at the wrong end of the right when I find myself negotiating with my own children: the best negotiators ever!!! They are not shy putting up the most ridiculous suggestions or demands on the table to get what they want! And most of the time they do…
Why does it still excite me, after all these years? Why does it not matter if it is a big or a small contract or agreement I need to get to? Why do I still get the satisfaction out of doing it right, regardless if the outcome is in my benefit or not? It is not about winning, it is about coming to the best possible compromise where you and the other party can agree to agree, see the value of each other, find the common ground that is a win-win for all…
I suppose it has to do with my own story of my childhood, which I might add was a very happy one: the story can read sad but really was not and it just gives some indication why I enjoy what I do, what drives me, what ticks my box.
My own story starts as follows: When I was 6, my daddy died, car accident, suddenly gone. A shocking story, a wife with 3 small children left in a small village, me the youngest. I was told that my dad was gone. That he was never coming back but in the same breath they let me know that he was in a happy place so I did not needed to worry about him. To be honest, at 6, I understood verbatim and assumed he was in a happy place, which I quickly decided to be in Rio de Janeiro. Seriously, they have carnival all year round and how much happier can you be to have a party every day??
So with my dad in Rio, my mom was sad most of the time and there was always an air of mystery and silence around the place – every time adults came around, we were sent away to play. They whispered, talked quietly or acted quite suspiciously. Why?
My need for wanting to investigate, to understand, to explain was born. At 7, I had made up my mind about what I was going to become: a spy, like the Q and Q boys on the Dutch TV in my time!!! OMG, they were the business!!!!
Q & Q were 2 friends, and by accident, they always seemed to stumble on a few criminals in action and didn’t know what to do – adults did not want to listen to them, did not believe them, so they had to go and investigate the crimes themselves: so awesome. The only grown up that was on their side was an old uncle who helped them uncover the truth. I mean seriously, for a girl of 7, with a father in Rio and a mother not engaging, these were serious heroes. I was definitely going to be a spy when I was older. Conspiracy theories were born every day of the week and my world of imagination was pregnant with unsolved mysteries and criminals …
At the age of 14, I had figured out that my dad was not in Rio, but was really dead, in the cemetery, under the wooden cross, under the tree. And I had since figured out that becoming a spy was not really on any curriculum of any school or college. I armed myself with some dead languages Greek and Latin to be able to start a new secret language to communicate with my peers for when I would become a private investigator – YES –That was something that was acceptable in society, you needed to be smart for and I would solve cases and make people happy with my gift, my skill, my in-depth analysis of every situation. My hunger for de-mystifying mysteries and unraveling secret connections grew bigger over time.
At the age of 18, armed with a few dead languages and the desire to make people happy, I wanted to study law…I wanted to become a criminologist! I would uncover the web of mystery that had caused a death. I would discover the truth of their last hours – by gathering the data, examining the facts, coming to a plausible cause of events …however, social sciences was deemed better and to be honest, for the next few years, I did immerse myself in uncovering the web of party events and discovering the truth about student life and all that goes with it.
Since I graduated, I have seen life from a good few angles. In my work life I have swapped the side of the coin more than once: I went from sales into buying, from being a client to a supplier, from manufacturing in to retail, from indigenous in to corporate and back…. I have learned to be a psychologist in many different situations and learned as well to be schizophrenic to be able to get the best out of other circumstances. I have learned to be an actress in a commercial play that changes day by day: my role is ever changing but there is one constant: I am never alone on that stage: from tragedy to comedy, the other actors have been and are continuing to be great in their roles and together we deliver a successful performance!!
So where does this story go? How does it link up with Sherlock on the yellow brick road?
I started my own company, e-Quiddity (Quid = the essence + abbreviation of my name IDD) about a year ago and I have done some serious soul searching since.
As all entrepreneurs amongst you know, every day you have to deal with your own strengths and weaknesses so you better are aware of them. But even more important, every day you deal with other people, their strengths and their challenges, their wants and needs and coming to the right compromise for all parties involved, is the biggest problem to solve.
I learned from my childhood that I have a drive, a need, a desire to unravel mysteries, to solve problems, to analyze challenges and make situations better, to make people work together, to engage and to deliver solutions for all involved to make them all happy! In my work life, I learned to analyze data to the most granular level and take the learning’s up to eagle view. Zoom in to zoom out, engage with all stakeholders to find the right solution for all, the correct answer that everyone can work with…
It is amazing: I always have wanted to immediately go into solution mode, but my experience in work has thought me to examine everything in as much detail as possible, to understand the links, the changes, the consequences, the benefits and the risks, to connect the essence. I have learned to follow the yellow brick road, no shortcuts, no quick lanes, full engagement and commitment to the process that will bring all involved to the right place.
e-Quiddity, my company, my philosophy, my team, my values, my delivery, it is all about that – commercial investigation of all important decision criteria as per a defined and proven process and we are passionate about it = Sherlock on the yellow brick road.
This is who we are, what we do and we will bring you to your goal. Now what about you?
- Ever experienced Wicked Witches of the West situations that try to hinder you in achieving your company’s objectives?
- There are plenty of flying monkeys around the place that will make it hard for you to do the right thing and to stay on the straight and narrow road to the best solutions!!
- We all have encountered some Wizards of Oz who sold us a good story but it was all Blarney, they could not deliver…
We dig deep for the clues and unravel the challenges in any contract, transactional or relational. We guide you to follow your yellow brick road and will ensure that you will get to your objective: your home if you are Dorothy, your heart if you are the tin man, your brain if you are the scarecrow or your courage, if you are the lion. And with that, we hope as well we make you happy.