Critical thinking

11 December 2012
In my last column I wrote about the ‘panic saving season’ – the last quarter of the year when some people realise they only have three months left to achieve their objectives and the need to plan early and monitor that plan. So as I sit here planning my team’s performance reviews and thinking about areas to develop in 2013, I wonder how many of you have started thinking about what you need and want to achieve next year? If you are reading this and thinking to yourself, “how can I think about next year when I am still in delivery mode for this year?” then you really need to take a step back and be cognisant that there are fewer than three weeks left in the office before many are off for a Christmas break and those that are around can become somewhat distracted by the festivities. So if you haven’t yet broached 2013 objectives, start now. And when I talk about objectives, I don’t just mean the ‘what’ (the tangible output), I also mean the ‘how’ (the journey that you take people on to achieve that output). It is so easy to focus on what you have achieved, but if you have left a trail of disgruntled stakeholders behind you have you really been successful? A really useful tool to understand how you perform is 360-degree feedback. I’ve recently requested and received feedback from stakeholders, my peers and my team and have been really interested in the responses. Armed with this information, I am already planning the areas I would like to work on next year so that I can further improve my business relationships.   Supply base contingency plans We will soon be ringing out 2012 – and what a year it has been for wild weather. In the UK alone we had a washout of a summer and November brought floods-a-plenty, so I dread to imagine what the next few months of winter hold for us. With that in mind, I wonder how many of you have sufficient contingency plans in place for your supply base? It is highly improbable that we will manage to escape further bad weather, so what will it mean to you if your supplier’s premises is suddenly flooded, meaning they can’t produce the goods? I am absolutely sure the large majority of you – understanding the scale of what your business outsources – will have a risk management process in place for your first tier suppliers. But how many of you are confident that this is being actively managed further down the supply chain? You can’t sit back, hide behind a contract and just expect things to happen. Any risk in the supply chain will impact on you, so why not take the time to think about how you can educate and work with your first tier suppliers to mitigate risk and ensure sustainable shared success? ☛ Nicola Bromby is head of commercial management, Heathrow Airport
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