Last week, ISM2018 brought thousands of procurement professionals to Nashville, Tennessee for the year's premier supply chain event. The long-awaited conference began in earnest with a keynote address from Thrive Global and The Huffington Post's Arianna Huffington. 

Technology was (understandably) a popular topic at this year's conference. ISM2018's agenda was packed with sessions focused on the ways technology will accelerate, advance, and even disrupt Procurement's operations. While Huffington's presentation touched on technology's rapid pace, she approached the topic from a unique angle. Instead of encouraging Procurement to pick up the pace, the journalist and CEO advised just the opposite. "The next stage of technological disruption," she remarked, "will involve technology that will help you disconnect from technology."

New and emerging technologies are just one piece of the problem facing today's global workforce. Professionals suffer exhaustion, stress, and burnout at alarming rates. As organizations strive to move faster and implement cutting-edge technologies, they're increasingly reliant on exhausted teams. No one, Huffington suggests, is effective when they're overworked.

These employees won't just perform ineffectively. Huffington reminded attendees that burned out talent won't hesitate to look for the door when things grow unbearable. She went to emphasize the importance of empathy and creativity in talent management. These two qualities, ones that can't be automated, are essential for establishing a healthy culture. 

Procurement departments can no longer afford to contend with "brilliant jerks." Culture killers, however talented, will only hurt your organization the long run. Huffington encouraged her audience to weed out these individuals and look for more empathetic and humane team members in the future. This could help the organization transition from merely surviving to thriving.  

Huffington went on to suggest that a healthy office environment starts at home. No one can manage a thriving business if they're not personally thriving. Recounting stories of past burnouts, Huffington reminded everyone just how important a good night's sleep can be. Many Procurement professionals treat bedtime as their one and only break from technology. This is not sustainable. Huffington extols the virtue of disconnecting and taking a break from the ongoing conversation. These days, she suggests, managing our relationship will technology will prove every bit as important as managing interpersonal relationships. The most effective managers will learn how to budget their team's screen-time and provide respite throughout the day.

Huffington's words resonated with members of Source One's cost reduction team. They, too, discussed the importance of a collaborative, communicative culture at ISM2018. In Orchestrating a Procurement Transformation, Analyst Kaitlyn Krigbaum described the ruinous effect that low morale can have on an initiative.

Adopting Huffington's principles will likely prove challenging. How many of us can comfortably shut our phones off for even a minute? It won't be easy, but - if mindfulness brings even half of what Huffington believes it can - the effort should be worth it. 
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