Accelerated agility

David Noble, Group CEO, Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply
6 July 2015

Having a vision and being highly flexible is the way forward for the Institute and profession

Once in a while, setting asideall of your training and learning in a particular field and questioning the validity of almost everything you’ve ever learnt can be insightful; as well as terrifying. But, unless you want to run to stand still, sometimes it’s necessary to throw everything up in the air to gain some fresh understanding that could take your business, department or profession into new, exciting, and uncharted waters.

Last month, we had a planning session with the CIPS key leadership team and the Global Board of Trustees, where we looked at the Institute’s strategic direction for the next few years. We had a positive session with a diverse range of thoughts and ideas around how we can continue to support the profession’s ascendency in new ways. As business leaders we can often fall back on tried and tested planning methodologies, where goals and aspirations are filtered down to operational levels as the norm. But in our unpredictable world where plans are often changed and morph into something else, to keep pace with changing developments, working in this linear fashion no longer serves us well.

So, making a plan, and sticking to it, come hell or high water and trying to predict the future with a high level of certainty is pretty impossible.

And, having one big plan which may not succeed is a high-risk strategy. Reacting quickly to the present rather than trying to plan for the future could be a huge positive. According to the Project Management Institute’s report, Organisational Agility, companies that are highly agile this way, are more than twice as likely to succeed in new projects and innovations. Many hugely successful companies such as Google have this youthful and agile perspective and have experienced a meteoric rise. For example, Google offers its employees the time to explore ideas with dedicated thinking time, which is good for personal development but also because they may find that golden nugget of an idea that takes Google into a new and profitable direction.

This kind of agility encompasses many things. It’s being resourceful, it’s about taking risks, it’s about managing vast amounts of data quickly and with purpose, it’s about listening to stakeholders – including staff, seeking change as a matter of routine, being comfortable with uncertainty, and the most difficult of all, failing sometimes. Because if you’ve failed, you’ve learnt valuable lessons. Many successful entrepreneurs have had many failures which led to their successes.

As we move into the next phase of our strategic imperative and ask staff to work with us to take the Institute and profession into new territory, we should be looking to walk many paths to success rather than sticking to one rigid plan. Having a vision rather than a plan seems to be the way to go and I’m excited about where this will take the Institute and the profession.

• Networking together with Procurious

We continue to develop the knowledge and support our members need for every part of their business lives by increasing the number of partnerships with experts in particular fields.

Our latest agreement is with Procurious, the online business network for procurement professionals. It is one of the best places to go for advice, discussions and online learning, related to using social media.

Anyone joining the Procurious network will be able to access webinars, interviews, events and experts online, 24 hours a day.

The organisation has around 4,000 active members across 100 countries and its members include individuals from a wide range of organisations including Shell, Apple, HSBC, Rio Tinto, Qantas Airways and General Electric.

Online networking is a great opportunity for the procurement and supply management community to engage via social media channels and take a collective step forward to embrace this new way of working. Visit cips.org/procurious for details.

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