Conscious Communication – a paradigm for the 21st century!

“Communication is what the listener does!”

(Mark Horstman and Mike Auzenne paraphrasing Peter Drucker)

Effective communication has been an idiom of successful societies from times immemorial. However, throughout history the need to have this skill was limited to very few that had positions of importance on the echelons of society.

Globalisation and most importantly, technology, has made it imperative though that more and more people develop this skill in order to progress their careers and lives to what I have previously described as Endelexeia (here and here). Hence, today more than ever before, we need to focus on this essential skill and gain consciousness of the way we communicate with others.

Funnily enough, we are gaining consciousness of this skill anyway as technology is forcing us to. Let’s see how and why this is important.

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CONSCIOUS COMMUNICATION IN THE TIME OF THE MACHINE

Conscious communication can be defined as the intentional transfer of meaning with the purpose to influence others.

It has been a long and difficult process to adapt our communication style so others’ can understand and be influenced by the interaction. Conflict resolution techniques affirm that we need to consider how we communicate if we want to avoid conflict reappearing and stifle our efforts.

This is very important as the stakes are high, while we are going through a transition of eras especially in the Western world – transition from the industrial age to the “information” age. A transition that needs innovators, entrepreneurs, and intrapreneurs that are effective.

Living at the outset of an era that most surely will be influenced by Artificial Intelligence (AI), we see the trends of adaptive communication and conscious communication to grow faster than ever.

For example, five years ago we did not consider that it would be possible that we will train ourselves to learn specific phrases, so that Siri can understand us.

Noting the fast evolution of IBM’s Watson, evolution that allows “the machine” to begin to really understand fuzzy logic and ‘human speak’, I see that there will be a convergence between human and machine in the communication sphere. This has already started.

CONTINUOUS LEARNING AND COMMUNICATION

I have discussed before about the need to continuously learn as an essential skill for the 21st century (see here).

As the futurist Alvin Toffler highlighted:

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Our ability to learn how to interact and communicate with the outside world will evolve as well. For instance, the simple tasks that allow us to go about our lives e.g. getting change at the counter, knowing how much the discount is when we are on a shopping spree or knowing how to send an email will shift to completely different levels e.g. how to program-customize our personal assistant robot most probably by talking to it so it can learn and adapt itself (as science fiction as this may seem we are not far from it – see here).

Entering this new era makes us more receptive to adapt our communication style and look at our communications from the second perspective in order to be effective, and achieve the required outcome e.g. Siri to finally get what you mean and give you an adequate, coherent response.

THE FUTURE

I believe that this great beginning of learning to interact and really communicate with AI systems provides a golden opportunity to also start considering the necessary and well overdue adjustment of our style relevant to human communications.

Doing so, will create a boost in our effectiveness and our ability to express ourselves and create meaningful relationships and finally succeed as societies overall e.g. increase further our standard of living – collectively.

HOW TO MAKE A START

Next time you are entering a discussion perform active listening, i.e.:

  1. Try and really understand your partner in conversation. Be conscious about listening and catch yourself when instead of trying to understand your partner you are just preparing the next thing to say.
  2. Ask inquiring questions
  3. Use visual cues – Smile and nod to the other person to show understanding and agreement when so,
  4. Try and understand the other persons communication style by laying attention to their expressions for instance:

A) Visual

They use phrases like : “read the instructions”, “show me”

B) Auditory

                    They use phrases like : “I hear you”, “listen to me”

C) Kinesthetic

                    They use phrases like : “let me try”, “I will show you”

then try to adjust to this style and see if your communication is more successful.

At the end of it all, remember that:

“It’s not what you know, it’s what you use that makes a difference”.

Zig Ziglar

 

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Image courtesy of Simon Abrams / www.flickr.com

How to develop a winning organisation today! (An inspiring talk)

“The real battle is not against competitors. The real battle is against ourselves. Against our bureaucracy, against our complicatedness” – Yves Morieux

Sometimes you come across a talk that really resonates.

I have read a few books, essays and articles on organizational behavior and have explored the issue of Team Development and Team Engagement here and here.

Yves Morieux

Yves Morieux

Yves Morieux’s speech was remarkable in the way that he consolidates ideas and concepts and comes up with a new approach that focuses both on Organizational Performance whilst at the same time achieving Employee Satisfaction.

Yves Morieux gave this speech at the popular TED talks’ forum and posited that the two pillars of Management i.e.

i) the hard approach of structures, processes, systems etc and

ii) the soft approach of interpersonal relationships, feelings, traits etc,

which are the mainstream ways we use to engage our employees and succeed as organizations, are obsolete.

 

He then provided a different way to look at a winning organization focusing on what he called the SMART SIMPLICITY system. He contends that, based on this system, winning organizations can be built in today’s hyper-competitive world.

The system’s main focus is to remove complexity using six basic rules.

These are:

1) Understand what your people do.

2) Reinforce Integrators

3) Increase Total Quantity of Power

4) Extend the Shadow of the Future.

5) Increase Reciprocity and

6) Reward Those who Cooperate.

The examples used during the talk and the overall concept is well thought out.

Hope you enjoy the talk:

 

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Image courtesy of http://www.ted.com

 

Procurement as a differentiator – Part 3 (what kind of differentiation?)

In a previous post (Part 1) I explored an expanded definition of what Procurement is becoming and then how it can become the link between Customer Demand and Supplier Innovation.

Then (Part 2), how Procurement’s potential could reinforce the basic Strategies of Organizational differentiation.

In this post I will explore in more detail what this differentiation could look like.

Innovation Anna betts

C. PROCUREMENT AND DIFFERENTIATION

The argument that Procurement can become a key Differentiator is supported by the fact that Innovation is a key contributor of business growth and that Procurement can be a great curator and creator of Innovation.

Jimmy Anklesaria in his great book “Supply Chain Cost Management” posits that Procurement should:

“leverage [the] collective intelligence of the extended enterprise (your customers and their customers, your suppliers and their suppliers), and generate substantial results”.

and also that

the next generation of cost management is: “breakthrough solutions”.

C1. COST LEADERSHIP AS A DIFFERENTIATOR

Jimmy Anklesaria also highlights the fact that genuine cost management is different from cost cutting.

Indeed, genuine Cost Management does look at the business as a whole and asks questions like:

-Do we really need this service?

-What is the value this service provides to the business?

-Is there a better way of doing this?

Moreover, he stresses the importance for Procurement to move towards embracing a Strategic perspective as, according to him, successful Cost Management will be the key differentiator in the future:

“So, here we are in the twenty-first century. What will differentiate your firm from its competition? Will it be technology? Or maybe it’ll be quality and reliability? Perhaps speed of delivery? Or excellent customer service? Or do you think your firm is the onoly one in the industry doing e-business? The answer,…, is that nowadays, frequent technological breakthroughs, high quality, reliability, on time delivery, top customer service, and e-business are merely the prerequisites for being in the global race for market share. Today’s customer expects this from a supplier; rather, demands it. And there are enough firms around the world that have overcome the “preliminary rounds” of technology, quality, reliability, delivery, service and e-business.

So, why should they choose your firm?

In a few years the only differentiation will be cost. Companies that best manage their costs through the entire supply chain to bring you the latest technology, best quality with on-time delivery at a price lower than the others will take home the prize-your check. There is no prize for coming second”.

C2. INNOVATION AS A DIFFERENTIATOR

Now, reflecting on the power of Innovation to drive growth we find evidence in Kate Vitasek’s reminder of Solow’s Law that states that business growth is driven by innovation.

Specifically,

“The population and the labour supply grow at a constant rate and capital intensity (or capital per employee) can be regulated. But without technological progress, Solow continued, growth rates for capital, labour and total production would all be about the same. As a result, technological development would be the motor for economic growth over the long haul. In Solow’s model, if continuous technological progress can be assumed, growth in real incomes will be determined by technological progress”. (Kate Vitasek, outsourcemagazine)

But probably the most important contribution Solow demonstrated was that only a small proportion of annual growth could be explained by increased inputs of labour and capital. Just how small? Thirteen percent.

In other words technological growth makes the crucial difference when it comes to economic growth – a whopping 87 percent. Now keep in mind technological growth happens in two ways: product and process improvements.

For both these ways, Procurement can play a pivotal role.

This notion is also reinforced by the view of Cavinato and Kauffman when they detail Technology Advancement (e.g. Product and/or Process Improvement) and Supply Chain Synchronization (e.g. Process Improvement) among the four key trends that will most likely fundamentally shape tomorrow’s procurement practices (here). The other two key trends being Globalisation and Industry Consolidation.

 

CONCLUSION

I think that the above amounts to a strong argument for Procurement to be one of the primary differentiators for the organisations of tomorrow. Utilizing the Procurement function towards clever Cost Management and stimulating Innovation will mean that organizations will empower a yet not fully explored source of creativity and immense potential.

 

Where do you think Procurement will be and should be by 2020?

 

 

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Image courtesy of Anna Betts/ www.flickr.com

 

Procurement as a differentiator – Part 2

In the previous post (here) I explored an expanded definition of what Procurement is and how it can evolve into becoming the link between Customer Demand and Supplier Innovation.

It is important though to also explore the Procurement potential through the lens of Michael Porter’s model of Organisational Success in an effort to understand how the basic Strategies of differentiation could be reinforced through the Procurement profession.

Michael Porter

Michael Porter

B) PORTER AND COUSINS MODEL FOR ORGANISATIONAL SUCCESS

Michael Porter in his seminal book “Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance” describes three generic strategies for businesses.

These are:

“”Cost Leadership” (no frills), “Differentiation” (creating uniquely desirable products and services) and “Focus” (offering a specialized service in a niche market)”. (mindtools)

The above easily brings to mind the airline Tigerair reputed for low cost, 3M reputed for innovation and Qantas which with the formation of Jetstar pursued the “Focus” strategy (niche market differentiation).

Reflecting on this model it is evident that Procurement can clearly respond to 2 out of 3 of Porter’s differentiation strategies i.e. Cost Leadership and Differentiation and can affect the 3rd one.

B1. COST LEADERSHIP

Cost management and cost cutting has been an archetypal quality for Procurement.

 

B2. DIFFERENTIATION

I believe that the second differentiator i.e. Innovation, is the next frontier. Procurement can and is slowly moving

from

“purchasing goods and services at competitive prices”

to

also focusing on cost reduction techniques, improving cycle times, reducing time-to-market, and constantly seeking to exploit actual and potential innovations from within the supply market. 

Moreover, in the current environment, and considering Strategic Supply Management, the Organization should constantly re-evaluate what is core and what could be outsourced. So, Make or Buy decisions will become more common.

As Cousins et al, highlights:

“Supply strategy is increasingly a factor in identifying the organization’s boundaries. Supply management assumes responsibility for developing and implementing supply structures that will sustain the competitive position of the firm” (Cousins P. et al, 2008, Strategic Supply Management)

B3. CAVEAT

The necessary caveat of course is that the Organization views and enables Procurement to function in a strategic and collaborative way, internally and externally, and that the Organization has and is clearly communicating the preferred differentiation strategy it has chosen to all, so, that alignment of goals and business unit strategies is ensured.

 

In the next and final post of this three-part series, I will explore this differentiation could look like.

 

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Image courtesy of Wikipedia / www.wikipedia.com