For those of you into Americana, One Hundred and Thirty Five (135) days ago today, Robert Ford, who was in Jesse’s gang, killed Jesse James for a reward. Jesse James was one of America’s most famous outlaws who, after the civil war, gained significant notoriety, and even public sympathy, as a result of his many successful robberies that included banks, stagecoaches, and even trains and the portrayal of him as America’s Robin Hood (who stole from the rich and gave to the poor), even though there is no evidence that he or his gang actually shared their spoils in that way. (And when he was killed, he became one of the legendary figures of the Wild West.)
And while it might be nice to be legendary, a corporate death is not the type of legendary you want to be. But it’s one that’s easy to realize if:
- You upset too many senior stakeholders with aggressive savings-focused sourcing events that ignore stakeholder desires and even requirements (even though this may make the CFO do the dance of joy)
- You achieve too much success (too fast) while satisfying all of the sourcing requirements and make your peers look bad in comparison (because you achieve double digit savings while adhering to every business constraint and satisfying every named stakeholder requirements) … giving them incentive to back-stab you (and set you up for failure not of your doing)
- You step on the toes of too many powerful incumbent suppliers (with CEOs that join your CEO on the golf course) and/or take too much business away from them too fast (even though they may need to be replaced, replacement of major incumbents often has to be done slowly and with care)
So, when you are reviewing your contracts and (re) sourcing your significant categories, be sure to do so with care and finesse — your incumbents may need replacement, but such replacement will have to be done with care, and support. It’s a sad truth that sometimes your efforts will be undermined by personal relationships between chief executives and board members, but a truth you need to be aware of and approach with caution. Once these individuals understand what their relationships are costing them, or you get the CFO or CEO to help you explain that to the stakeholders, you will be able to (slowly) replace the suppliers and make the right sourcing decisions (and save), but the last thing you want to be is alone, because, instead of being seen as a hero, you will be seen as an outlaw, and someone who will be given up for a bigger reward. Sad, but true.