How to be the best in show

21 May 2013
Alison Smith, the Purchasing CoachIt's the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this week. Unlike 'real' gardens, that are designed to improve over the years and last for tens of them, Chelsea gardens are designed to be perfect on day one and last for a week. I wondered what we as procurement practitioners could learn from these garden designers. Garden designers: These guys are experts in their field and often chose a specialism so that they may develop their skills more deeply. They use all the tools of the trade, which are constantly being upgraded. They apply best practice, but rarely have the same outcome, choosing to learn from what went well – and didn't – to continue to innovate and be more creative each year. Design: There will be a design for the garden and it will also be known way ahead of the show. Of course, it may change as circumstances change but, on the whole, the vision and outline plan will be developed, documented and completed well in advance. Sponsors: Very few designers can afford to go to Chelsea without a sponsor. The sponsor's enthusiasm and support comes from them getting kudos from being associated with success, especially the brand exposure if the garden gets a gold medal. In recompense for this ‘recognition’, it’s the sponsor that provides the resource to meet the design, which is why the design is needed. It's no use coming cap in hand a few months down the line saying "I got it wrong I need more" or developing a design that's unsuited or misaligned to the sponsor’s values. Plants: These are very special as they need to be at their very best on judging day and to do it on one specific day out of 365, which may require them to flower out of season. These plants will have been given the perfect conditions to support their growth. They'll have had ample attention and careful handling as they were bedded out at Chelsea. Nothing will be left to chance and any plant failing to deliver as the show approaches will be replaced or given the attention it needs to flourish. Perfect advice to ensure we get ‘best in show’ for our actions?
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