Daily Archives: November 26, 2007

the doctor Goes Mental on Myths I: Collaboration & Knowledge Sharing

The elephants in the room and the barney deals aren’t the only problems plaguing our industry. Dangerous myths are constantly infecting the minds of those who will listen to the fear-mongers and the melancholics. Some of these myths are fairly well known, like the myth that once prices are locked in a contract after an e-Auction, those savings are guaranteed. But some of these myths have not been adequately exposed, which is not surprising as some myths are still being promulgated by the major vendors (like the myth that a “supplier network” has value in and of itself and that a supplier should pay for the privilege of just being a member).

Thus, in addition to exposing the elephants in the room, no matter how quiet they are or how hard they try to hide behind that floor lamp, I’m also going to tackle some of the more dangerous myths now and then. Today I’m going to make Skeptic, who apparently didn’t like my Feel-Good Friday post on Collaboration, happy and admit that collaboration and knowledge sharing doesn’t necessarily add value.

I know right now you’re probably still in shock from that statement, especially since I constantly promote how valuable collaboration and knowledge sharing can be, so I’ll give you a few seconds.

Okay. That should be enough time. That’s right, what should be among the most valuable activities you undertake does not necessarily add any value to what ever it is that you’re doing. The reality is that a collaboration initiative or knowledge sharing initiative, like any other initiative, is only valuable when done right.

Specifically, collaboration will only be valuable when it is undertaken with honest intentions and each side makes a genuine effort to make it work. Just like you can have a barney deal, you can have a barney collaboration project. Each side sits down at the table, says they’ll work together, but then goes their separate ways and rarely says two words to each other again. That’s not collaboration. That’s lip-service.

Collaboration requires both parties to work together as a team on a regular, often daily, basis. To jointly plan, implement, and monitor the project. To work together to identify a problem when it arises as well as its solution.

Similarly, knowledge sharing will only be valuable if real knowledge is shared that’s relevant to the project or problem. Simply sending over the contract that was struck the last time the project was undertaken with no accompanying explanation or twenty documents that may or may not be related to sourcing direct materials is not knowledge sharing. That’s nothing more than a data dump. And a rather useless one at that.

Knowledge sharing requires actual knowledge to be shared that is relevant to the project being undertaken. It requires the knowledge to be in a form that is digestible by the party that needs the knowledge. Furthermore, it requires the amount of knowledge to be appropriate. Too little knowledge and the recipient will be left more confused than before she started the project. Too much and the information overload will prevent the right knowledge from being appropriately absorbed.

Do you have any myths you’d like the doctor to go mental on?
Send them his way (the doctor <at> sourcinginnovation <dot> com).

Everything You Know Is Wrong

Sorry if I burst your bubble, but the statement is true if we don’t put a time limit on it (and consider what we will learn between now and infinity). As noted in Shift Happens (on YouTube), it is estimated that over 1.5 exabytes of unique information was generated worldwide in 2006, that this is more information than what was generated in the previous 5,000 years, and that the amount of technical information is currently doubling every two years and predicted to be doubling every 72 hours by 2010!

That means that everything you think you know today, if it’s not already wrong, is likely to be wrong in the near future. Even everything the doctor knows today will eventually be outdated! That’s staggering. That’s why continual education and self improvement is critical.

More importantly, you have to be the one to take on this initiative – to update your knowledge and your skills – because the likeliness is that, at least if you live in North America, your company isn’t going to do it for you. Survey after survey finds that the amount of education and training that the average company in North America provides their employees is dismal, if they even provide any at all. Considering that the current rate of knowledge generation implies that everything you learn in first year of University is likely to be outdated by the time you graduate, this is dismal because by the time you’re in a job five years (assuming your job still exists in five years), if neither you nor your company made any effort to keep your skills up, every bit of technical information you know now will be outdated, as will all of the processes that were molded to use the technology that was leading edge five years ago.

That’s why Next Level Purchasing┬áis my vendor of the week. Realizing that it was up to procurement professionals to keep their skills current, it was the first private training company to develop an affordable training program tailored to the individual who could take the courses on her own time, at her own pace, wherever she happened to be, and, if she desired, end up with a recognized industry certification (the SPSM – Senior Professional in Supply Management). Moreover, Next Level Purchasing recognizes the rapid shifts that are taking place in the industry and makes it a point to review and update the core certification courses every year*1 so that the knowledge you receive is always up to date. Furthermore, Next Level Purchasing also publishes articles and informative blog entries on important topics every week so that you can keep learning even after you’ve completed the certification and they’ve collected their fee. That’s a dedication to student and professional education that you can respect!

*1 It updates all of its courses on a regular basis, but not necessarily yearly if they are not core certification courses and the majority of the material is still relevant.