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Sourcing and Procurement

Cultivating a risk management mindset as a sourcing professional

In a scenario where Procurement is making buying decisions under conditions of scarcity, economic analysis has emerged as a pathfinder for many leaders. However, the pillars of the economy took a big impact in the past 2 years and all existing cost-cutting tools, intelligence, as well as experience, fell flat in its face. The result: crisis and high risk in procurement.

Midst data analysis, relationship management, employee-first approach, digitization and reprioritization came to the rescue of such beleaguered teams. The time is now ripe to move from “Crisis Leadership” and “Crisis Management” to “Resilient Crisis Leadership”.

Looking in the past for lessons

When I look back and review the past, many things come floating to me – the mistakes I made, the decisions that went wrong, and the measures I took to address the concerns. However, when I analyze the impact that those failures have had on me, it’s a clear lesson – resilience. Resilience in the face of a crisis helped me and my team sail through difficult times and taught us to view adversities as challenges and turn them into opportunities. For example, as a procurement professional, the crisis of COVID lockdowns posed a series of unforeseen disruptions. We were in choppy waters when it came to ensuring client deliverables and continuity of business operations. It was the time to review, re-evaluate, and act.

It was then that we realized that having a compelling reason in life is almost always drifting wood to a drowning person. We were determined to come up with strategies and plans to overcome obstacles that emerged from the global pandemic. The goal was to focus on a situation that we have control over. In the work from home scenario, instead of losing sleep on factors like how a supplier will respond, or how devaluation might impact the buying price, I encouraged the team to focus on developing sourcing skills in the new environment and rearrange working hours to keep the work-life balance intact. At the same time, I looked at some of the necessary attributes of a sourcing leader and found that positivity midst a crisis rests on the following 4 pillars:

  • Having a positive image of future
  • Having solid goals and the desire to achieve those
  • Empathy and compassion in interactions
  • Not thinking of oneself as a victim of a situation

This made me resilient as a leader. When I failed, I bounced back, and since I have the strength to learn the lessons I need to learn, I can always move on to bigger and better things. With such reflection, I was able to transform my “Crisis Leadership” into “Resilient Crisis Leadership”.

Building Resilience

Building resilience is not an overnight job. It is an attitude and mindset that evolves with time and experience. However, keeping in mind a few points can help in developing the demeanour required to build resilience. For example, it is important to spare some time for relaxation. While this aspect is brutally neglected, practising hobbies, or pursuing passions often helps in calming minds and accentuating concentration.

Cognitive restructuring is another effective way to deal with adversities. It can help change the way we think about negative situations. It further enables one to learn from their mistakes and failures. This change can prove beneficial in areas of developing and improving relationships with suppliers. Accepting that the situation is unavoidable and resetting the goals with a Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely (SMART) approach emerged as a prudent realization.

While there have been setbacks in the past that caused disruptions in procurement functions, the recent global pandemic was a real eye-opener, as it exposed the gaps in the system and warned about the extreme devastation that can occur if processes lack resilience. Interestingly, even though it was more forceful than willful, the situation taught us to be more flexible and be prepared for any change. The biggest learning though? Despite setbacks, we can take risks, develop strengths, and be resilient to keep moving forward, and eventually find the right way.