I was reading an article on cnn.com about epic career mistakes and how some big time journalists were not only able to recover from these mistakes but come out way ahead.  I found this to be a good topic that can be applied to strategic sourcing or any life situation really. You can find the actual stories in the article but below I will use these same failures as they would apply in sourcing and discuss how you can recover from or avoid such incidents.

“Actually record” – In this instance the journalist in question was not entirely prepared for a big interview he was conducting. This resulted in him having to go back and re-interview the individual.  The obvious lesson to be learned here is to always be prepared.  When conducting a sourcing event you should get to know your product or service category, your supplier base and the market, as well as have a thorough understanding of what you are looking to accomplish.  This should all be sorted out prior to starting any sourcing activity.  This stage of the process is often one of the most intensive and comprehensive and as such should not be shortcut in any way, because there aren’t always second chances to be had.

“Check your facts -- and your geography”, “Name (the right) names”, “The devil is in the details”, and “Read it out loud” – All of these epic failures have a similar theme and include journalists and reporters not checking their facts…..frankly leaving all looking quite foolish.  Lesson to be learned, check, double check, and triple check your work before presenting it.  Even the most seasoned sourcing professionals, or any professional for that matter, can benefit from having a colleague or manager review a report or presentation or even the wording of an email before shipping it off to another party.  We often write things during a heated moment or in some instances when you have spent a great deal of time on a subject you may be interpreting it differently than the way you intend, by having another pair of eyes review the data you can be saving yourself a world of trouble.

“Listen up” and “Relax” – These two stories refer to reporters not communicating correctly and having to quickly adapt in a messy situation.  When working with suppliers or customers it is important to not only hear them, but to listen as well.  We can easily find ourselves falling into a routine when sourcing a product or service, and this is important to maintain a sense of structure and order.  However we need to be able to adapt in situations where the standard operating procedure may not apply.  Lesson to be learned, pay attention to your surroundings and know when to change courses to remain headed in the right direction toward your sourcing goals.

“Put everything in context” – This story is a simple but common one, a journalist used an improper phrasing without thinking about the consequences of his actions.  The easy lesson learned here is think before you speak. This can definitely apply in almost any situation, professional or not.  Don’t blurt out a response, written or oral without first thinking about the context in which you are speaking or writing. You may also benefit by considering your audience as well when addressing particular topics.

All in all, as the article tells us, you can recover from epic failures and in some instances quite successfully.  But the best way to not have to recover is to avoid making these mistakes to begin with.  We’re all human and as such prone to imperfection, but why not get a leg up on ourselves and follow some simple guidelines to preparedness.
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Jennifer Ulrich

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