June 2018 |

Got your attention? Hoping that someone was going to provide the answer amidst the welter of forecasts? Well, the lesson of Philip Tetlock’s book ‘Superforecasting’ is that the people most often asked to make forecasts about economics and politics and who appear on TV are less accurate than the open-minded generalist. Therefore the best advice I can give is….no one knows what is going to happen and do not be fooled by those who make confident forecasts.

In fact, those in procurement do not need to worry about the forecasters. The opportunity for procurement – possibly the greatest opportunity of the last decade – is here and now. It is not linked to the certainty of the future; it is exactly the opposite, it is linked to uncertainty about the future and the ability of procurement functions to take advantage.

Earlier this week I spoke to Procurex North – a tip-top procurement conference in Manchester – about Brexit. I argued the following.

The senior execs of the UK are reading and seeing in the media that there are four big issues re Brexit: tightening labor markets, regulatory uncertainty, currency volatility and trade-related uncertainty. It does not matter whether these are reliable forecasts of being issues, they are the problems the media has identified as needing to be discussed and which face unclear outcomes. Any narrative which involves these points is going to achieve cognitive resonance for a board member.

The opportunity for procurement is, therefore, to construct arguments as to how it can impact those potentially board-level issues. Which of course it can. Deeper supply chain visibility, working capital, supply market understanding, risk management, tightening the supply of people are all ways we can address this issue to involve the board in.

As my daughter would say ‘OMG’ we have a whole set of stories to give the board to justify our involvement in strategic conversations. Some smart procurement teams have already done it – in automotive they are discussing how to adapt the supply chain to delays at borders. In finance, they are helping with the regulatory need to set up new locations in Europe. In retail, they are grappling with commodity risk management and making more own brand products which they can control.

These are all examples of procurement responding to uncertainty now. So do not worry about what actually happens; navigate the uncertain landscape today to deploy it to your advantage. This can be your moment to get the board to understand that we can affect some fundamental concerns. Go…..!

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