In our first post we discussed that in our last two series we discussed Technology Advances and Process Transformation, which SI calls Transition, that collectively comprise two of the three T’s critical for organizational success. The third T is, of course, talent, which must not only be in abundance, but which must also be appropriate for the organizational needs. This means that you not only need talent with a good mix of IQ (intelligence and skills), EQ (emotional intelligence and wisdom), and TQ (technology and mathematics/logic), but that the mix must be suitable to cover the range of Supply Management tasks before your organization, and in sufficient quantity.
In order to temper your talent, you need to start with a page from the process transformation handbook that says before you can make any changes for the better, you first have to understand where you are (via a collective assessment), then where you want to be, identify the gaps, and put together a plan to close the gaps. This plan should consist of a mix of internal training, on-site seminars, conferences, online courses, and certification programs, appropriately matched to the learning needs of the team. But is this enough to temper your talent?
Of course not! This will only get the talent to where they needed to be at the time of the measurement, and since then processes will have evolved, technology will have moved on, and Procurement will have changed. The rapids keep charging ahead, and your team will need to continually navigate those rapids or drown. So how do you keep up?
The answer is, you don’t. Your only chance to stay a float is to make sure you have a team that is actively working together collectively and individually to keep the raft afloat amidst the ever present and ever turbulent rapids. This means you have a team that not only absorbs all of the training you provide them with a sponge, but also seeks out knowledge and training opportunities on their own.
Even though their opportunities will be limited compared to the organization’s, as they have much less time (as your organization expects overtime and forsaken vacations on a regular basis, whether it will admit it or not), money (as they are not nearly as well paid as the organization’s overpaid, over glorified sales professionals who contribute much less to the bottom line than your Procurement professionals do), and brand recognition (that can open doors to the best learning opportunities out there), they still need a quest for knowledge and a mission to find it.
You need team members who continually seek out low cost and free online courses from leading establishments (such as that provided through the MIT OpenCourseWare) related to different aspects of their job or the organization (even if Supply Management isn’t a topic, anything that improves their mathematics or logic skills is a plus), low cost and free materials offered promotionally by vendors seeking attention or utilization of their platform (as some vendors will sponsor the creation of guides and some big online stores, such as Amazon, will offer up deep discounts to get you to use their e-reader hardware or software), and opportunities for discounted talks and seminars through their local associations or their friends’ local associations.
And while these individuals will not be able to learn, or even find opportunities to learn, everything they need to on their own, they will be more aware of the changes that are coming, the knowledge that is needed, where the organization is likely to find it (at a price, especially if the organization wants to be leading edge), and what foundations they need to have in order to even begin to acquire that knowledge. (For example, just like you can’t really learn calculus without a good understanding of limits and trigonometry, you can’t learn advanced supply chain cost optimization without a basic knowledge of cost modelling.)
There’s no silver bullet when it comes to talent tempering, but finding talent who want to temper themselves to be the best they can be is a great start. (And if that’s not that talent you have, then, and only then, can you be sure that you need to find new talent.)