To Infiniti and beyond

6 August 2013
It’s often reported that the supply chain can act as a source of ‘competitive advantage’ (in fact, researcher Gartner makes this very point with regard to companies entering emerging markets this month). If you work at Infiniti Red Bull Racing, the competitive advantage provided by the procurement and the supply chain is brutally literal. When the chequered flag is waved at the end of the grand prix, success is there in black and white. You either win – as tends to be the case with Red Bull Racing – or you lose. As head of procurement Charles Bamlett explains, to work for the team you need to demonstrate a desire to win, with a mindset to keep pushing and never settle for second place. Regardless of your industry, all organisations have rivals. You might be competing in the same sector, location or for the same customers. Even the public sector is encouraged to compare how it is performing, but how many of us consider this day to day? If we adopted a similar winning mentality to the buyers at Red Bull Racing – linking procurement to wider business goals – how much more successful would our organisation be? You may think your role in procurement can’t be compared to the high-octane world of Formula 1, but whistle-blower Paul Moore draws a direct comparison between managing risk and grand prix racing. F1, he says, is a shining example of risk management, where the skill is to minimise the potential of something going wrong. In procurement, it is not about stopping people taking risks, but “to help the driver go round the track as fast as they can, at the least possible risk”. Failure to do so will leave your organisation stuck on the starting grid. ☛ The deadline for the early bird discount for this year’s CIPS Annual Conference is 15 August. 
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