Daily Archives: December 19, 2010

HBR’s Advice on Getting Your Idea Approved

As per the eSourcingWiki article on The Quest for Purchasing Fire, it can be tough to get your idea approved. That’s why you need to take the advice of the experts from time to time, and this recent post over on the HBR Blogs on How to Get Your Idea Approved is a great start. Especially the second step of:

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

As Michael Norton says, “when you watch someone stumble through an answer, you make an inference that they don’t know what they’re talking about“, so if you stumble through an answer, you can expect that your audience will think that your idea is half-baked, which will greatly reduce your chances of getting it approved. A major key to success is to identify the potential concerns of your audience up front and then prepare concise, honest answers to their challenges that you can deliver with confidence. Even if they don’t buy in, they’ll be a lot less likely to fight your idea. And then, you need to:

Keep it Simple

As Norton says, the curse of a presentation is that you know much more than your audience about the topic, but you have to avoid overwhelming your audience when you present the idea. You need to focus on the main points, which should be presented in the language of your audience, so that your audience will grasp the benefits quickly, and avoid tangential wanderings into secondary points unless they come up in the course of Q&A. And even then, you have to keep your answers concise. (Only go into the full details in the full written proposal, and only give it to those who ask. Provide everyone else with short executive summaries.) Finally, it’s important to:

Maintain Alliances

While its important to form alliances early, it’s also equally important to maintain those alliances. You’d be surprised how fast those alliances could go up in a puff of smoke if you don’t maintain your connections, keep them apprised of what is going on, continually address their concerns, and, of course, socialize.

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The State of Sustainable Procurement Reporting

ORSE (Observatoire sur la Responsabilite Societale des Entreprises) just released a detailed 36-page study on Sustainable Procurement Reporting, sponsored by Ecovadis, that aimed to identify the major trends in terms of Sustainable Procurement Policies. Many of the observations were not unexpected given the recent uptake in sustainability in the corporate world, but a few of the findings were disturbing.

First of all, the finding that European companies are twice as effective at communicating their sustainability goals and structuring their policies (75% of European companies are at an ‘advanced’ level compared to only 40% of American companies) is bothersome. Why is Europe so far ahead of us?

Secondly, despite the fact that 95% of companies mention Sustainable Procurement in their Sustainable Development reports, only 51% of companies have quantitative Sustainable Procurement targets. Without goals, it’s all just a bunch of hot air.

Thirdly, even though two thirds of North American companies (and almost nine tenths of European companies) analyze supplier performance, in some sectors, less than half of the companies assess the CSR performance of their suppliers. Why is performance so inconsistent across industries?

Fourth, only 13% of companies have a sustainable procurement team. While dedicated full time staff are not required, there should be a dedicated team of employees who have sustainable policy development, implementation, and (supplier) training as part of their job.

Fifth, on average, only 6% of companies train their suppliers to be sustainable. In order for sustainable practices to take root, they need to spread. In order for them to spread, they need to be taught.

In other words, the state of sustainable procurement reporting is improving, but there is still a long way to go. For more details, check out the detailed 36-page study on Sustainable Procurement Reporting.