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Getting The Basics Right

Getting the basics right

In my previous blog I shared my thoughts about the leadership principles of Stephen Covey described in his best selling book: “The seven habits of highly effective people”. In this book we can read about the seven universal principles which drive our effectiveness. “Begin with the end in mind” is mentioned by Covey as one of these seven habits in leadership thinking.

However what about “getting the basics right first”? Logic tells us that every end had a beginning and every beginning has an end. This seems to be a no brainer and applicable to every event around us, meaning something that happens or is regarded as happening.

An event has only one outcome

Simple events, like going by train from Maastricht to Amsterdam should be easy to predict. Leaving at 14:05 it takes me 2.22 hours to arrive at 16:27 in Amsterdam. More complex events, e.g. this Nevi Purchasing Leadership Program or even my life seem to be more difficult to predict as I am limited and biased in understanding all conditions that govern these events. From personal experience I always find it easier to explain an event afterwards, in stead of predicting the future outcome of an event. Even as an engaged procurement consultant, I confess painly to be suprised regularly by my clients.

Strategy eats culture for breakfast

This “strategy” module given by professor Arjan van Weele is interesting. The concept of strategy has been borrowed from the military (Sun Tzu 544 – ca 496 B.C.) and adapted for use in business. In business Henry Mintzberg describes the Ten Schools of Thought framework and breaks down the Strategic Management into 10 categories, from Positioning to Entrepreneurial to Power (Micro). Each school takes a varied approach into strategy formulation. No one view is complete by itself.

What is strategy anyhow? Is it a plan refering to the ends we seek under conditions of uncertainty? A position or a perspective to a view we take of matters and the directions, decissions and actions from this view. Or is it all of these?

One thing is for sure, intitial and final conditions are always related. Nothing happens by chance, it is only our limitation to understand the conditions around us (Information Measurement Theory, Kashiwagi 2010). “Begin with the end in mind” and “getting the basics right” are connected somehow.

Get our basics right

Purchasing is at a intersection. We either follow the new avenue of value creation or keep walking the dead end of short term savings. As Albert Einstein stated: “Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.”

So let’s “get our basics right” by having the courage to challenge, use our creativity to change and our capability to connect.

In 2014 Tesla CEO Elon Musk made a brilliant analogy to give insight as to why Tesla released their private patents to the public. He said, “If we’re all in a ship together, and the ship has some holes in it, and we’re sort of bailing water out of it, and we have a great design for a bucket, then even if we’re bailing out way better than everyone else, we should probably still share the bucket design.” By allowing competitors to have access to their patents Tesla is allowing more brains to add innovation to the electric car.

Should we not have the same approach in circular sourcing and build a purchasing strategy to save our planet? As we are all-in this ship together?

How to know everything, without knowing anything

Maybe the real challenge in strategy formulation is our perspective in knowing everything. Knowledge is relative and compared to a child we know probably a lot. Compared to the collective human knowledge we do not look so hot. Someone who lives like they know everything does not need other people.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk must have come to a believe they know very little. The real power in knowing nothing is other people. This perspective allows us to involve other people to fill our own knowledge gaps. So know when you do not know, find someone who does. When you know nothing it becomes easier to know everything that you need in crafting strategy.

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