8 must know question types for Effective Leaders

“The key difference between leaders and managers is that leaders focus on getting to the right questions where as managers focus on finding solutions to those questions”. Michael Marquardt

How many times have you found yourself wondering over a well placed question?

How challenging and stimulating is it to ponder over or doubt established beliefs and guided by a thoughtful question reach new lands previously unexplored?

You can think of the art of questioning as your compass towards a meaningful and productive answer and result.

Michael Marquardt in the insightful book, Leading With Questions How Leaders Find the Right Solutions by Knowing What to Ask, explores this very theme. He posits that leadership is all about asking the right questions.

Let’s look at some basic points he makes that will enable us to become better “questioners” and thus, better leaders.

 

question

 

TAXONOMY OF QUESTIONS  – OPEN ENDED VERSUS CLOSED ENDED QUESTIONS

In general, open ended questions stimulate thought and the overall discussion. Closed ended questions do the opposite.

In Procurement terms you can think of open ended questions closer to what an RFI or an RFP is aiming at and a closed ended questions closer to an RFQ.

Let’s look at an example:

Close Ended: “Did you meet your KPIs?”

Open Ended: “How has our KPI performance been going?”

It is evident that in the close ended version the answer is “Yes” or “No”.

The open ended version allows and welcomes commentary and frees up the dialogue towards constructive and productive interchange of ideas.The use of “why”, “how” or “what do you think about…” aims to structure open ended questions.

We have now moved on from a black and white world (if ever we were living in one).

Currently working on complex concoctions of all shades and colours means that we need to embrace tools that stimulate discussion, employee engagement (see here and here for more on this topic) and allow innovation to thrive (other tools for innovation can be found here and here).

 

WHAT TO DO: TAXONOMY OF OPEN ENDED QUESTION

  • what to do

There are various types of open ended questions for us to choose from. The basic ones are listed below:

1) Explorative questions open up new avenues and insights:

Example: Have you explored or thought of………..?

2) Affective questions invite members to share feelings about an issue:

Example: How do you feel about ………?

3) Reflective questions encourage more exploration and elaboration:

Example: You said there are difficulties with your project; what do you think causes these difficulties?

4) Probing questions invite the person or group to go more deeply into a particular issue. Words such as describe, explain, clarify, elaborate or expand aim to do just that.

5) Fresh questions challenge basic assumptions:

Example: Has this ever been tried?

6) Questions that create connections establish a systems perspective:

Example: What are the consequences of these actions?

7) Analytical questions examine causes and not just symptoms:

Example: Why has this happened?

8) Clarifying questions help free us from ambiguity:

Example: What specifically do you mean by that?

 

WHAT NOT TO DO: CLOSED and OTHER DISEMPOWERING QUESTIONS

what not to do

1) Closed Questions call for a specific answer, either yes or no, or calls for the respondent to select an answer from a limited range of choices. Closed questions often begin with what, when, or how many, or ask the respondent to agree or disagree with a statement.

Example: Do you like black or white?

2) Leading questions are those that force or encourage the person or group to respond in the way intended by the questioner.

Example: Were you at the meeting with Bob last night?

A non-Leading example would have been: Where were you last night?

 

SUMMARY

Continuous improvement and radical change relies on good and bold questions been asked.

Coming back to Procurement and Contract Management, results in a recent IACCM study,show that 88% of Contract Management professionals believe that improvement of the quality of the Requirements specifications was the number one factor to improve contract performance in their organisations (see here).

Imagine if the above tool of well placed and well thought of questions was used to clarify and specify Requirements Specifications for our RFx. 

How much better the Procurement and Contract Management process would then be?

 

 

In pursuit of Best Practice – Intrapreneurship

This article first appeared on Procurious.com as a guest blog contribution. You can find the original blog post here.

 

At its simplest, Best Practice means we are doing our job better than others. …that might translate to closing deals faster, achieving consistently good negotiated results, establishing terms and change processes that support high-performance relationships or realizing results that regularly exceed expectations. So we want to be better, faster, contributing greater value, making fewer mistakes” Notes on “What do we mean by Best Practice” by IACCM

As already elaborated here, an essential aspect for becoming successful in the future, is Creativity.

The term, Creativity, most probably conjures up images of successful Entrepreneurs that have a vision and the courage to pursue their dreams.

Outstanding Entrepreneurship is a well-defined quality behind every successful organisation.

Entrepreneurs like Richard Branson are followed and their ideas celebrated in the public domain.

However, it would most likely be better for an organisation to not only try to maintain its competitive edge on the ideas of one or even a handful of forward thinking individuals, but also find ways to tamper into the creativity and ideas of every one of its employees.

Hence, organisations should also look into the promotion and support of Intrapreneusrship.

Read on if you want to find out more about this idea, as well as, get to learn about one way to harvest the concept of Intrapreneurship as a means to pursue Best Practice within your own organisation.

Outside the box

Intrapreneurship

Jeroen de Jong and Sander Wennekers explored the concept here.According to them:

“Intrapreneurship refers to employee initiatives in organizations to undertake something new, without being asked to do so.”

There are a few companies that actively promote intrapreneurial behaviour e.g. Google  allows its employees to spend up to 20% of their time to pursue projects of their choice.3M and Intel appear to have programs towards similar promotions (see here).

However, intrapreneurship is not only about the pursuit of new products and revenue streams.

Intrapreneurship contains an element of innovation. Innovation refers to the production and implementation of useful ideas, including the adaptation of products or processes from outside an organization. As Antoncic and Hisrich highlights (here)

“Intrapreneurship is about “emergent behavioural intentions and behaviours that are related to departures from the customary ways of doing business in existing organizations”

In other terms Intrapreneurship is about the pursuit of Best Practice.

In parallel, it is also important to note that the support of the practice of Intrapreneurship also helps maintain engaged teams that always challenge themselves and evolve the organisational practices, processes and results (read more about team engagement here and here).

Ideas Charter (a simple and practical way to pursue Best Practice)

As part of an effort to promote employee engagement and Intrapreneurial behaviours, I developed the Ideas Charter.

This is a simple process which ensures that all new ideas are captured, evaluated, and then through a process that promotes and supports undertaking innovative projects, implemented.

The Ideas Charter Process works like this.

i) A champion is assigned to capture all ideas that can enhance processes or contribute to efficiency and effectiveness in a simple spreadsheet called the Ideas Charter (see template here). This is done on a non judgmental way to the perceived value of the ideas i.e. following Edward De Bono’s six hat definition – by wearing a green hat.

ii) The ideas are then evaluated and validated by a selected committee and approved or not approved for further development.

iii) If an idea is approved, then that idea is made available as a potential candidate for a future side project to be done by a team member or a team.

iv) Every two months the team is asked to select a side project to work on. Each team member is encouraged to pick one of the Ideas in the Ideas Charter and work on it. A due date is allocated.

v) At the end of the allocated period each member presents his/her side project along with a benefits analysis.

vi) The side project outcome is placed into production. This outcome  could be a change in process, a development of a business case i.e.  it could be anything that promotes efficiency or effectiveness.

vii) After 3 side projects are completed and presented, the team is given the opportunity to vote for the best one. The winner is celebrated.

This is a simple but effective way to work towards Best Practice in small teams. From personal experience this concept has the power to engage the team and also to elevate the level of efficiency and effectiveness as delivered by its outputs.

Finally, it works towards Yves Morieux’s vision elaborated in his presentation about “How to Develop a Winning organisation” – see here . Yves eloquently summarised his position as below:

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

What systems do you have in place to promote and support the pursuit of Best Practice?

 

 

 

Image courtesy of glendale inquiry

 

Procurious – Behind the scenes – An interview with Chantelle Genovezos

5 months ago Chantelle Genovezos announced to the Australian Procurement community (click here to see full article) that she and her team were working on establishing an “innovative online community called Procurious” by May 2014.

Following the successful launch of the Procurious web community site, I caught up with Chantelle to find out more about this project and the value this aims to deliver to the Procurement community.

Procurious logo

INTERVIEW WITH CHANTELLE GENOVEZOS

George (GV): Chantelle, First of all, congratulations on the launch of the Procurious beta website. It must have been a very busy and productive 5 months.

Would you first describe what Procurious is in a few words?

Chantelle (CG): Ambitious….savvy….forward thinking……intellectually curious… global. A true reflection of our members!

Procurious is an online business network specifically designed for our global profession. It’s where you’ll find the new generation of procurement and supply chain professionals.

Think of it as a professional network, a learning hub and a career centre.

GV: What inspired you and your team to begin on this journey. What gap in the market did you identify?

CG: I’m still surprised by the lack of awareness about procurement.

It’s the place to get to know how the business operates, be influential and make an impact. But it’s also a profession that has had to deal with some long-held, inaccurate stereotypes that have been difficult to budge.

Like a lot of procurement professionals, we felt it was time to bust some of these myths and create a new identity for the profession. We could also see the face of procurement is changing. It’s younger, more mobile and more diverse.

And that’s really what Tania Seary, Founding Chairman of The Faculty, The Source and now Procurious, wanted to achieve. With more than 15 years working and servicing procurement, Tania is absolutely committed to the development of the profession and its people. Naturally, the idea behind Procurious is focused on achieving this goal.

For the team behind Procurious, and for all our members too, it’s not a question of why – but why not be part of an initiative to positively change and challenge procurement for the better…. and get ahead yourself!

Chantelle Genovezos - Procurious Team

Chantelle Genovezos – Procurious Team

GV: For those that do not know you, can you tell us a bit about your background before Procurious?

CG: I was one of those few who deliberately chose procurement as my profession. Starting as a grad I was thrown into the deep-end of “indirects” and I had a few goals I was steadfast on achieving. During the 4 or so years I worked at Parmalat Australia I took on new challenges and greater responsibilities along the way, including taking up the job of Procurement Manager – Indirects. I had two great team members who I recruited into their roles. Overall, I had unique opportunities to work with every part of the business and at different levels.

So uprooting to London in June of last year was a big decision. I left a good job and great friends and went head first into the unknown. It might sound easy enough, but it’s easier to stay doing what you’re doing and not take the plunge into something else, especially when you don’t even know what that “something else” is going to be.

GV: Who is Procurious for?  How are you reaching your audience?

CG: Procurious is for everyone involved in working or servicing the procurement and supply chain profession – including practitioners, consultants, trainers, recruiters and technology providers.

We have a wide cross-section of content available on a variety of topics, and our members’ needs and interests will be the driving force for new articles and discussions.

We’ve thought carefully about creating a design that is sophisticated and cool. Perhaps that suggests we’re appealing to a younger audience, but we’re not stereotyping. We do believe that this represents the ambitious and savvy nature of modern procurement professionals.

We’re using a combination of social media and face-to-face events to reach our audience but we’re deliberately holding off on any big launch announcements just yet. For the next few months, we’re in beta testing. We want to understand how people want to use the site. This is so we can test out features/functionality and make valuable improvements.

All are welcome to join during this time and we do have plans for a bigger, exciting launch. So watch this space!

GV: There are plenty of Social Media sites out there. How does Procurious differentiate from your competitors?

CG: The key difference between Procurious and other sites like LinkedIn is that it is niche – every function, discussion, event, training module and article is selected with procurement professionals in mind.

Procurious is unique in that it bridges the gap between networking, thought leadership and technical information – no other online platform does all three.

I should add that sites like LinkedIn and Facebook absolutely have their purpose, but this is finally a place in the market which procurement and supply chain professionals can call their own.

GV: Is there a fee for joining? What are the services offered and fees involved?

CG: Procurious membership and all current features on the site – including all our online training modules – are free for the time being. If the community sees value in what we are providing a modest annual membership fee will be introduced in 2015.

Our key areas of focus for procurement professionals are:

  • Expanding your network
  • Raising your profile
  • Developing your skills
  • Being in touch with the global procurement community

We’re doing this via a networking platform, discussion forum, events database and on-demand learning environment.

Our development continues as we explore a number of different avenues in terms of premium offerings, new functionality, team areas and seamless integration across all devices.

Jack Slade (Procurious Team - Product Manager)

Jack Slade (Procurious Team – Product Manager)

GV: What can we expect from Procurious in the next few months?

CG: We’re still in beta, so it’s all about learning from our early adopters at this stage. We’re chasing as much feedback as possible, which will translate into significant product changes and upgrades in the coming months.

Over the coming months, you can expect to see new online learning modules, lots of topical discussions, member profiles, new events and eventually an App to make getting connected even easier.

GV: Where do you see Procurious in 5 years time?

CG: Procurious will be the global hub for the procurement profession with more than 200,000 members.

Whether you’re in procurement, or want to be, or simply need to be in the know, Procurious will be your daily habit. It will be the place you can trust to get real opinions and valuable insights. Where you know you’ll be learning from the best trainers in the world and can find information easily and quickly.

Procurious will have helped to redefine the image of procurement. Members will be recognised for the value they add and procurement will be seen as a smart, attractive career path.

GV: In under 50 words why should a Procurement professional join and be active in this community?

CG: It’s really as simple as ‘Get involved. Get ahead.”

Procurious is for the new generation of leaders in procurement. It’s a hub to advance your career, develop skills and expand your professional network.

Procurement has suffered from an image problem with out-dated stereotypes. By joining forces through Procurious, we are forging a new image for procurement and recognising the very talented people who work in the profession.

GV: I understand that the Procurious team in London-based. Why should a Procurement professional from Australia join?

CG: Procurement is truly a global profession with a global network of professionals – as demonstrated by the very international office at Procurious HQ!

Although we first launched in Australia to utilise our existing networks, the intention is definitely to keep growing worldwide.

We already have members joining us from all around the world – in the UK, USA, New Zealand, Canada, India, France, Singapore, Netherlands, Bangladesh, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Malaysia, South Africa, Brazil, UAE, Ireland, Peru, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Sweden, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Argentina, China, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan.. and more!

That’s the beauty of the online network – you can join the conversation, learn from your peers, expand your opportunities, regardless of where you are based.

GV: How can the readers join up and/or interact with the Procurious community?

CG: It’s very easy – simply join up at www.procurious.com, create a profile and start connecting with your peers!

Once you’re set up, some great ways to start interacting with the community include:

Contribute to the discussion forum
Post a question you want answers on and vice versa – share your knowledge and help your peers by answering their questions.

Register for events
We’re building up a global events database so that members can connect before and after events take place. We want conversations to continue well beyond the day out of the office. So find out what’s on and who’s going, and stay connected!

Complete a learning class
Our learning environment gives you bite-sized, on-demand knowledge. Take advantage of this while there is no cost to access. And of course, if you can’t find the class you’re looking for, tell us what you want to learn.

GV: Thanks for your time.

CG: Thanks George, we hope to see you on Procurious!

GV: Looking forward to it.

 

Well, this was Chantelle Genovezos on the new multifaceted online community tool for procurement professionals, Procurious.

Interested, curious, have a look on the Procurious website.
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Images courtesy of Procurious

 

 

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