Don’t be like Mike…Be Like Steve (Jobs) – Part II of II

July 26th, 2013

What can you learn from one of the most successful CEOs ever?

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Sr. Vice President and COO at SafeSourcing.

In yesterday’s blog we looked at some of the well-known reasons that Steve Jobs was one of the most successful leaders of all time and how they are closely connected to being successful in other areas such as procurement.  We will wrap up this two-part series today by looking at four more reasons why Steve Jobs was successful and how they resonate in the procurement world.

Never stop learning– Steve Jobs and many, many other successful business people have shown that a dedication to learning and continued pursuit of knowledge will never be wasted.  There are few places this is truer than in procurement where services, goods and equipment are being purchased every day with a speed impossible to keep up with.  The only way procurement managers can be successful is to pursue the knowledge to help them understand the categories they source.   Whether this comes from periodicals, the internet, books, television programs or through conversations with people smarter than they are about a topic, it must happen.  Only in knowing everything they can about something can they expect to succeed at handling any part of it; this includes the markets affecting it, the conditions of the world that can influence and the environment of one’s company that can make it or kill it if the knowledge is not known in advance.

Develop strong supporting teams– This reason of Steve Jobs’ success is almost the antithesis of the point above.  There are things someone knows, things they can learn and then there are people who are going to know more and be better than they are.  Projects need these people to be successful and managers need to be smart enough to admit it.  In the procurement world this translates frequently to involving a Subject Matter Expert.  The most successful projects are those with good management and great knowledge of what must be done to complete it in a manner that will deliver the company what it needs to make decisions.  Most managers who have been in this space more than 5 years know how to source but that does not mean they understand the details or specifications behind everything they will be asked to assist in sourcing, requiring the need of a strong external partner, or internal resource, or both to see the project through.

Be willing to take a risk– Virtually every risk becomes either a mistake or a triumph that rises above the path not taking the risk becomes.  To the procurement professional the meaning of this is clear.  Continuing to source a few categories a year, while others evergreen, collecting the three paper quotes and negotiating from there is a standard and safe way to move ahead.  It produces reliable, although modest, results.  The risk would be to depart from this model; to pursue tools and processes and partners that can help turn 8% savings into 25%.  Calculated risks that can be planned for and understood can produce great results in many cases and learning experiences in every case.

Don’t wait– The sadness of Steve Jobs life and so many people like him that leave this world before it is ready for them to is the hole that appears when they are gone.  This happens so quickly that what was unchanging becomes changed in an instant.  It is for these reasons that every category and every potential project should be reviewed for opportunity regularly.  Business landscapes change, companies are purchased, natural disasters occur regularly that affect a business.  If a contract ends in three months it should be beginning the review process now to make sure deadlines and contract dates for change (if that happens) can be honored and so that data can be collected to ensure a strong view of options.  Waiting to review upcoming categories may end up creating missed opportunities to save or to strengthen contracts already in place.

This blog series could easily have been written about any area of human existence.  Planning with strong teams that are bright and pursue perfection is the start of greatness especially when they do not wait for the opportunity but are willing to take a risk to seize it.  While few would claim to achieve the success Steve Jobs did, these ideals can be put into action with any sourcing project a company has.  For more information on how we can help with these projects or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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