2021 started and you, a buyer, are getting ready for this new year and are updating your readings when you face a text called “Dancing Through Life.” You may be wondering what this text has to do with Purchasing. I’ll explain. In my last text of 2020, we talked about resilience (the gift that 2020 gave us) and now, in my first text of 2021, before we start discussing technical purchasing subjects, I want to talk about something extremely important for any professional: inspiration!
One of my favorite songs is called “Dancing Through Life,” part of the soundtrack of Wicked, an award-winning musical that has been on Broadway since 2003. The musical tells the story of the witches of Oz, long before Dorothy arrives and meets her friends Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow, and the work is based on the 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire, a reimagination of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. How many of us are charged for the ability to solve problems and for our creative ability? Perhaps creativity is one of the most recurring words in job descriptions in Purchasing. First positive point for the musical Wicked: It was created from the successful work The Wizard of Oz. And the first reflection for us: Those existing processes which are considered excellent can be used as inspiration for something new. Perhaps a successful model used in the management of one category can be applied in another category with minor modifications, or the excellent relationship with one of your stakeholders can serve as a basis for the design of a stakeholder management process? You see, this is nothing more than an improved benchmarking process, that is, understanding what is being done well, adjusting, improving and then applying it to a new area or process.
Let's go back to the musical, it tells the story of two unlikely friends, Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda (the Good Witch of the South). They become best friends, despite opposite personalities, different points of view and a love interest in the same man. And one more reflection for us: How many times do we buyers, have to work with internal customers with personalities opposed to ours and different points of view in favor of a common interest? As in the musical, a relationship that may have started out poorly does not necessarily need to stay that way. Maybe the internal stakeholders really need your urgent help, maybe they got lost regarding the amount of material needed for production or they just forgot to send the purchase requisition beforehand. And that's fine! Remember that before being professional buyers, we are human beings. A little patience and empathy solve almost everything in a relationship.
Of all the lyrics in the original song, perhaps the most powerful is “Why invite stress in?” and that is exactly how I wish you to act in 2021: Why stress about the requisition that was placed on your desk at 4:55 pm on Friday? Why stress with the supplier who has not met the delivery date? Attention! I'm not talking about reaction, I'm talking about impact! Of course, you need to act on the requisition that was placed on your desk at 4:55 pm on Friday. Of course, you need to manage the supplier to ensure delivery on the agreed date. However, how much these actions will impact you, how much they will irritate you and determine the progress of the rest of your day, depends only on you.
Another striking piece of the lyrics that deserves to be mentioned is: “Life is more painless for the brainless.” Have you ever stopped to think about how much anxiety can be avoided if you just block thoughts about the new buyer that will arrive on your team (and you consider it a “threat” to your promotion), or if you block thoughts about the audit in your area that should happen in a few months? Yes, I know this is an extremely difficult exercise, but like everything else in our mind, with a little bit of training, you will surely be able to tell your brain what to think or not. Again, I’m talking about impact, not action. You need to act to prepare for the audit or seek more information about that specialization or project that will put you on the same level as the new buyer of your team, however, thinking about these things on a Saturday night will only bring you anxiety and stress. Think less!
And finally, the last part of the lyrics, which is also my favorite: “Nothing matters, but knowing nothing matters, it's just life, so keep dancing through.” In the end, everything that happens, good and bad, in your day, in the Purchasing area, at your school, with the prices of your items, with your KPIs, with your family or in traffic… it's just life happening! And all things, good or bad, take on exactly the importance you place on them.
May you have the wisdom to measure the importance that everything must have this year, that you make good use of our texts to improve your knowledge, not only technical, but also behavioral. May you develop your Emotional Intelligence and mainly, that in 2021, you continue dancing through life!