What do Katelyn Ohashi’s “Perfect 10” floor routine and agile procurement organizations have in common?
Determine recently hosted an event as part of its Procurement breakfast series to discuss the whys and wherefores of Procurement Agility with valued customer RCI Bank and Services (part of the Renault group) and our implementation partner Segeco. We covered a lot of ground during this thought-provoking event at the Maison de l’Alsace on the Champs Elysées, Paris. What follows are the key takeaways.
The event started with the viewing of a viral YouTube video of UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi scoring a perfect 10 in her floor routine. This was meant to set a framework for establishing the common definition of an agile procurement organization during the event; Responsive, anticipatory, proactive, flexible, innovative and collaborative were the words most cited by our attendees and panelists to define the concept of agility, drawing a clear parallel with Ohashi’s performance.
Like the American gymnast, agile procurement organizations bring innovation to the business. The video of her performance has attracted millions of viewers not only because of her series of impressive flips and splits, but rather her refreshing approach to the sport, championing individualism and enjoyment over titles, and encouraging gymnasts to treat the beam and floor as a stage. From her lineup of songs to the expression on her face, Ohashi’s performance is shaking up university gymnastic standards in many ways.
For Procurement, agility also represents a big change in the way of working and doing things. This includes going off the beaten track to try new solutions, processes and technologies, and building a “culture of failure” where mistakes are not seen as something negative but rather as an opportunity to improve.
Agility is about being flexible. Some parts of Ohashi’s performance are rather striking – even painful – to watch. But her flexibility makes it all a natural part of her routine; she not only gets back on her feet without a hint of hesitation, she actually seems to have be having loads of fun while doing it.
Flexibility is indeed a dimension of agile procurement. Agile organizations have the ability to adapt to changes and take advantage of new opportunities to reduce risk and gain a competitive edge. A good example of agility in procurement is, when faced with a particular challenge, an organization does not start off prescribing solutions, but instead opens a discussion with existing and potential suppliers to understand the different potential solutions available to meet specific needs.
Working together is also critical to achieving agility. In an interview with The New York Times after her “perfect 10” performance, Ohashi stated that “my teammates and my coaches have all allowed me to step into my individuality, and not be defined by just being a gymnast.” Ohashi, her teammates, coaches, sport physicians, seem to be virtually one in the pursuit of a common goal: her performance. Drawing a parallel with procurement agility, like Katelyn Ohashi, agile procurement teams have the ability to make the broader ecosystem work towards a common objective: business performance. Procurement organizations that foster internal and external collaboration and win-win strategies not only increase their innovation potential and capacity to mitigate risks, they also create the conditions for third parties to work toward shared business objectives.
Agility means always thinking steps ahead and being ready for the next move — another defining characteristic of the UCLA gymnast. Brilliantly executing flips, splits and jumps in rapid sequence, she’s always back into position to execute the next move. Procurement organizations understand that a deep familiarity with current supply markets and internal customer needs are essential to performing their mission efficiently. Agile procurement organizations go a step further, anticipating future trends in order to draft action plans fitting different scenarios. Internal demand, raw material supply, market price evolution, market disruptors — these are few of the many performance levers agile teams act on to create or maintain a competitive edge in their market.
As Ardent Partners wrote in their CPO Rising 2015 report: “The procurement teams that adeptly connect their tools, resources, and expertise to support the evolving needs of the business will succeed above all others. Agility will define the next wave of procurement success.”
If you’re ready to experience what true agility can be like, and how your team can become the “Katelyn Ohashi of procurement organizations,” schedule a demo of our modular Procurement Solution on the Determine Cloud Platform.