A (somewhat) long time ago in southeastern Pennsylvania, a Procurement services provider called Source One opened its doors. Over the years, they've helped countless clients refine their operations with their suite of cost reduction and strategic sourcing services.
The Procurement masters at Source One don't have magical powers. They aren't supported by a mysterious Force. They are, however, powered by experience and market intelligence. While industry blogs and events are a great source of knowledge, sometimes the best insights - like the best Jedi - come from unlikely sources. In honor of Star Wars Day, they're sharing some of the lessons they've learned from everyone's favorite space opera. Don't believe that Star Wars has anything to teach Procurement teams? I find your lack of faith disturbing.
1. Consider Every Risk Factor
Procurement's ongoing strategic evolution has seen the department accept a number of new roles. Risk Manager is among the most essential. Taking a more hands-on approach to managing supplier relationships and cross-department purchasing, Procurement is tasked with identifying potential risk factors, developing mitigation strategies, and overseeing the response to supply chain disruptions. Diligence and vigilance are key. Procurement can't afford to dismiss any risk factor as insignificant. A hands-off approach to risk forecasting could mean lost savings, rampant inefficiency, and even the dissolution of an entire business.
Obviously, the Procurement team on the Death Star had to learn this lesson the hard way. Their planet-destroying weapon seemed perfect. Unfortunately, a single flaw left it vulnerable. When the Rebel fleet exploited this flaw, all of the Empire's hard work went up in flames. While this was a happy ending for our heroes, it's also a valuable cautionary tale for Procurement. To effectively mitigate and manage risk, the department has to assess every possible risk factor and plan for every conceivable scenario.
2. Be Transparent
To call The Last Jedi a highly controversial entry to the Star Wars saga constitutes a Jabba the Hutt-sized understatement. Across the movie-going world, overzealous fanboys balled their fists and raised their voices to criticize Rian Johnson's take on the franchise. They're still at it.
New characters have rarely fared well with Star Wars enthusiasts. This time around, Laura Dern's Amilyn Holdo joined Jar Jar Binks, General Grievous, and Watto on the series' list of unwelcome additions. Personally, I think she gets a bad rap (full disclosure: Laura Dern could cut my head off with a lightsaber and I'd still worship her), but her management style was certainly flawed.
During any initiative, it's essential for Procurement to encourage open communication across every department. Holdo choose the opposite strategy after taking over for General Leia. Fleeing First Order ships, she kept her escape plan secret and fostered both confusion and unrest among her team. The consequences were grave. Had Holdo outlined her plan, established clear objectives, and delegated duties, lives could've been saved. In everyday situations and crises alike, Procurement needs to ensure everyone is on the same page. Secret plans are certainly dramatic, but they're rarely effective.
3. Invest in Professional Development
How did Luke Skywalker become such an effective Jedi? He had a great manager. Taking an interest in the young Jedi, Obi-Wan developed a clear career path, communicated his expectations, and put Luke in contact with Jedi Master Yoda. Kenobi was such an effective talent manager, in fact, that he even offered guidance from beyond the grave. Luke, for his part, exercised some Procurement best practices of his own. Listening actively and asking questions, he proved himself equally as invested as his teachers.
For Procurement professionals to feel engaged and develop their skills, they require investment and attention from their managers. Yearly performance reviews won't cut it. Retaining and engaging employees means making talent management an everyday concern.
Obi-Wan also presents a case study in how not to mentor new talent. Everyone remembers how poorly his efforts to train young Anakin Skywalker turned out. A mixture of poor oversight and occasional micromanaging alenated Anakin and led him to turn to the Dark Side. The same qualities can easily motivate team members to jump ship and align themselves with your competition. Obi-Wan would've done well to solicit feedback and adjust his managerial style accordingly.
Want to take your Procurement operations from Padawan to Master? Source One's experts are the cost reduction consultants you're looking for. Reach out today.