The 8 Modules, 31 Focus Points and 5 Collaboration Phases of the SEIC Methodology provide a path to success

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Our Diagnostic Tool provides a gap analysis of SEI capability to support the strategic planning process

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In-depth explorations of the approaches and techniques used by leading organizations in the field of SEI today

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Thought leadership and insightful articles on the most important issues for companies pursuing an SEI agenda

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Insight calls are available to join for all members of the SEIC and will be addressing a number of topics

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Useful downloads, from unique research to practical templates, frameworks and tools being used by SEI leaders

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The 11 modules of the SEI methodology focus on the key processes that enable the successful rollout of SEI

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Our Capabilities Assessment tools provide the means for organizations to gain insight into their own SEI approach

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In-depth explorations of the approaches and techniques used by leading organizations in the field of SEI today

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Thought leadership and insightful articles on the most important issues for companies pursuing an SEI agenda

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Useful downloads, from unique research to practical templates, frameworks and tools being used by SEI leaders

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Developing a culture of open and external collaboration at Mars

Culture and capabilities were on the cards at our latest Accelerator - this time held at the home of Mars Wrigley on Goose Island, Chicago

 

According to Peter Drucker, the so-called father of management thinking, the culture of an organisation will eat any attempt at strategy for breakfast; and for anyone who’s struggled with a major change management or transformation effort, Drucker’s words will no doubt ring true.

Attempts to demystify why this is the case have fascinated the business world for generations, and it was one of the main focus areas of our latest Supplier-Enabled Innovation Center (SEIC) Accelerator, which took place at the Mars Wrigley Innovation Center on Goose Island, Chicago last week.

 

Why is it, despite building shiny, well thought through, incisive and ambitious strategic plans, we struggle to move quickly and execute against them?

 

This is where culture comes in, and it’s why we spent a decent chunk of time on the first of our two days focusing on it and trying to understand what some of the inhibitors to developing a culture of external collaboration and innovation might be.

 

Before we explore some of the outputs and thinking of the group workshop, it’s worth dwelling a little on the presentation, delivered by Laura Walters, Senior P&O Business Partner at Mars (HR to you and I), which rooted some of the Mars cultural philosophy within Edgar Schein’s three-level framework of tacit assumptions, espoused values and artefacts.

 

The presentation provided a great overview of how Mars had used the power of its internal culture to foster greater collaboration between teams and individuals, and while interesting and relevant itself, it was when we used a similar mindset to fuel a workshop on driving greater collaboration with external partners that the relevance to SEI really came home.

So, here are three quick takeaways.

 

Can mutuality help?

 

The workshop groups explored how culture can be a blocker to our goals, with clusters of thought around how business partners might be fearful of change or reluctant to risk a loss of control. Equally, a lack of trust between procurement, the supply base and business partners raised its head again.

 

One word that kept cropping up was mutuality, which, as well as being a great word in itself, is something that should fuel all thinking in every collaboration we enter into. In other words, how do we ensure an initiative will create mutual benefit to everyone involved – and internal business partners are obviously just as important a consideration here as the supplier.

 

To take this thought on one stage, as one of our groups did, it’s then worth thinking about how we talk to our colleagues. How can we frame the supplier collaboration in such a way that the benefit to our business partners is clear and unequivocal? In other words, let’s speak their language.

 

Don’t fear failure

 

If there’s one thing that can be an inhibitor to progress in any field of work, then it’s a fear of failure. It can be enough to paralyse individuals, teams, even entire organisations. While a healthy bout of paranoia can be a good thing, fear of change or fear of failure can be an extremely powerful force to overcome.

 

Becoming comfortable with failure, therefore, is something that procurement leaders must embrace. One of the participants, in fact, explained how they actually celebrate failure and hand out a ‘failure award’ to encourage a greater level of risk taking, and a more entrepreneurial mindset.

 

One of the companies also shared its ‘hard lines, guidelines or no lines’ approach. This is a framework that can be used to ensure stakeholders are clear about how much scope there is for creativity and new thinking in specific projects. If there are hard lines in place, little to no room; if there are no lines, let’s go all blue-sky!

 

Unite behind a purpose

 

Perhaps one of the most powerful forces that can be put in play to help overcome some of these inhibitors is purpose – what is the motivating force, why are we doing what we are doing above and beyond pure profit.

 

It can help inspire and influence as well as create momentum for everyone involved.

For Mars, that means creating better moments that make the world smile, while behaving in a responsible and sustainable manner. As Pascal Baltussen, Global Vice President Procurement and Sustainability at Mars Wrigley Confectionery, noted on the day during his presentation – putting this purpose into action requires the input of all stakeholders, whether in procurement, the business or the supply chain.

 

There is no doubt that the internal culture of an organisation has the means to both derail and empower its drive into Supplier-Enabled Innovation. It’s not always a natural thing to collaborate with externals, a fear of sharing, the threat of IP pollution, a lack of trust, the need to protect one’s castle are all powerful forces in play.

 

But by thinking through these inhibitors rationally, developing a common purpose, removing that fear of failure and suspicion of third parties and seeing success in the terms of mutuality, we can make significant progress.

 

David Rae

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