Sunday, 17 May 2015

Grow Dammit

You really wouldn't expect the flowers in this picture to grow just because we told them to - words are completely useless without action - and appropriate action at that. 

To flourish we need to ensure that the plants have access to the right conditions for them - light, soil, warmth, nutrients, water etc. The last thing we'd do is buy a new plant and just pull it out of it's container and dump it in a corner and hope that it grows - so why expect suppliers to?  

Alison Smith
Landscaping Your Life and The Purchasing Coach too

A card of this picture taken by Susan Bergstrom can be purchased by following the link below Picture Source: via Alison on Pinterest

Friday, 15 May 2015

Are your suppliers running riot like Japanese Knotweed?

Every gardener understands that seeds need time in the greenhouse, lawns need mowing, weeds need to be pulled and to never plant Japanese Knotweed. Yet many business managers often forget to feed, weed and/or prune their suppliers. And yes most managers at some point in their career realise they've planted a Japanese Knotweed and realise, too late, the error of their ways.

So before you plant your next supplier just make sure you understand the nature of the plant and variety you've selected: How much care and attention will they need, in what conditions do they flourish, what will make them wither and die and will you be able to easily transplant them when they get too big!

Alison Smith
Landscaping Your Life and The Purchasing Coach too

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Are your business tools just for show?

I love these tools and like the idea of having a go making some for myself but they wouldn't be very useful in the garden. 

I suspect those of you with gardens will have a number of more useful tools - unless of course someone else does it for you. How many of them you have, how many you use regularly and what they are will depend on a number of factors: 
  • the size of the garden
  • style/type of garden
  • the function of your garden
  • the number of plants
  • soil type
  • your short/medium and long term objectives
  • budget available
  • gardening expertise available
  • enthusiasm and passion for gardening 
  • significant other's views on gardening and use of the garden
  • their support for your efforts
  • current condition of the tools
  • ease of access to the tools
  • the weather
However many you have - the fact remains that you wouldn't:
  • use a watering can to dig up a weed
  • use a spade to prune your shrubs
  • plant your seeds in the compost bin or even
  • use a hose during a hosepipe ban 
Could you say the same for the business area you work in? What tools do you have available and how many of them are you using? Or are they just hanging on the wall next to the award the business won in 1997?

How much more productive could your teams be if they had access to and were using the right tools for the job?

Alison Smith
Landscaping Your Life and The Purchasing Coach too

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

How will your stakeholders grow?

The BBC's Springwatch just wouldn't be springwatch without Chris Packham and his charts - his delight at conveying data in a chart is contagious. I do have that trait myself - if I can put it in Excel I will and if I can then convey the data graphically all the better. 

Charts and tables aren't just for post activity data analysis they can also be used pre-activity. As you can see in this chart that shows you how to grow vegetables including: 
  • what time of year you can plant them in and outside
  • ideal soil temperature to enable the seeds to germinate
  • their hardiness to weather changes (always needed here in Scotland)
  • when to fertilise
  • when to water 
Following the advice will optimise the likelihood of the vegetables making it to harvest and eventually the dinner table.

To optimise the likelihood of fruitful relationships with your stakeholders a similar table would be helpful - including information such as:
  • likes
  • dislikes
  • what gets them up in a morning
  • what keeps them awake at night
  • support needed to enable them to flourish
  • influence within the organisation
  • support for purchasing/procurement
It's only by knowing this information that you can know how to flex your communication to suit them as an individual and increase the opportunity to influence and engage their support.

Alison Smith
Landscaping Your Life and The Purchasing Coach too

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Nothing is impossible

This picture defies logic and is a great example that anything is possible if we just take some time and patience to find the solution and explore the opportunities.

With thanks to Responsible fishing UK for Fantastic picture - more stunning photo's of balance can be found on their Facebook page and web site.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Pain or Pleasure

Blog from the archives

I love observing patterns in language.

I'd like to share one such pattern I observed in one organisation because it might just help you notice your own organisational culture and therefore help you improve your influencing.

The reason for the lull in blogs in December was I was involved in delivering category and supplier management workshops for Future Purchasing in 3 countries over 3 weeks. It involved spending 12 days with the pharmaceutical client delivering the training to over 70 procurement team members.

What I noticed was the frequency that people used "Pain" to describe or define their objectives. 

  • Find the pain points for the stakeholder
  • What's the pain
  • Help them avoid the pain
  • Feel their pain
Of course I've heard it used before but not with such frequency.

Step back a minute and of course it should come as no surprise that a company that's aim is to alleviate pain should find alleviating pain coursing into every aspect of what it does. 

The benefit of understanding this potential pattern is to then use it when selling ideas within the organisation. Perhaps use of 'health' might motivate their stakeholders to listen to them, however I certainly recommended they use 'pain' more in their language and to notice the impact doing this had.

I then wondered how this might be represented in other industries:
  • Transport - destinations and on time or to schedule 
  • Financial services - investment and security ?!?
  • Education - learning and results 
  • Retail - meeting needs 
What words do you hear a lot at work and do they reflect the end product or service provided in anyway. Do let me know as I'd love to explore this further. 

Alison Smith
Landscaping Your life and the Purchasing Coach too
Inspiring Change inside and out

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Nettles and Dock leaves

One way of interpreting this combination of plants is - that an opportunity to solve a problem is never that far away. 

To explore this more fully I thought I'd use the Frameworks for change Coaching Process to see what other insights might be available.  

Insight: You express honesty and truthfulness in each moment. 
When ever I look at nature I am always reminded that each flower and plant offers it's own uniqueness and ask myself why we constantly try to be like other people rather than accept we are who we are in all our uniqueness. Of course this is also true in reverse why do we so often try to get everyone to be like us and not not accept and embrace their uniqueness? 

Potential Setback: You are setback by ARROGANCE in the present situation 
I wonder whether this a continuation of the last point i.e. it's easy to believe we're a Dock Leaf providing healing balm to those stung rather than accept that we might just be the nettle. Isn't it useful to be reminded that sometimes we're the ones capable of stinging others too? We may have other virtues but we all come with beliefs, skills or behaviours some might perceive as negative and unhelpful. To move forward it's about us all releasing the setback of believing we're better than others and accepting and embracing ours and their uniqueness. 

Insight: You value and express the quality of SUPPORT in the current situation 
You might see that the Dock Leaf supports the Nettle and perhaps that's the point - that we each need others around us who can support us and point out our less positive traits so that we may learn and grown. This of course is infinitely more possible if we've let the arrogance go. Who are you supporting today? 

Mentor: Transformation If we took on the beliefs and behaviours of our role model for transformation what difference would that make - what would we be thinking, what would we be saying and what would we be doing differently? One question - What's stopping us? 

I hope you found this helpful. If so you may find the notes from the session entitled 'Keeping on track in a downturn' helpful too. I love that the final mentor in that session was Authenticity. It's certainly a great process for use in groups as well as in coaching sessions. 

The process, the insight, setback and mentor cards used here are from the 
Frameworks for Change © Innerlinks -