No Connection crisis

There is a old quote that says:

“The worst job in the world is to work with hungry people”

In the Internet era, this saying has evolved to:

“The worst job in the world is to work with people who lost the connection to Internet”

I have seen this effect during this month twice, and it’s amazing how all is stopped and postponed till the main issue (connection) is solved.

Coursera, new way to access to education

Education is changing, the way to obtain knowledge and access to courses continue changing very quickly.

In my company I have access to a complete set of web courses and virtual sessions where different topics are reviewed and you can follow training programs composed by different courses. I enroll these courses and they provide me very specific knowledge related to methodologies and areas from my work.

Then I found Coursera, a place that goes beyond and where the interaction with the courses are more close to the content and to the teachers.

I enrolled on 2006 an on-line course similar to this. During those days all content was through read and tests and a chat with the teachers. The advance now is the addition of the video to the classes and the way the teacher track the evolution of each student.

I have enrolled Think Again: How to Reason and argue. It will be 12 weeks course. Let’s see how it works.

Playing with argument on a discussion

Everyday I face issues and people arguing about problems and invesitng time and effort on personal issues more than on resolve the issue itself.

Some people forget how to identify the arguments mentioned by the other party, analysis it and put on context of the situation or the organization.

When you want to defend a position you have to provide arguments clearly, spot it, construct your argument in the context of the situation and then defend it.

I face situations where the person talking to me build his/her own story to defend a position, but the arguments are weak or the story behind it cannot be taken in a serious way. One of the things I found it was that s/he even cannot differentiate the difference between deductive arguments and inductive arguments.

  • On a deductive argument the premises provide a guarantee of the truth of the conclusion. Here, the premises are intended to provide support for the conclusion that is so strong that, if the premises are true.
  • On an inductive argument the premises provide reasons supporting the probable truth of the conclusion. Here, the premises are intended only to be so strong that, if they are true, then it is unlikely that the conclusion is false.

The point I want to highlight here is the fact that some people defend inductive arguments as if they would be deductive arguments, provoking a weird situation where you do not trust the arguments and hence you start to hesitate about the person defending the arguments.

I found a good picture to visualize it,

Ariba Sourcing

Since SAP bought Ariba, when you as a customer asks about a procurement/sourcing solution to a SAP/Ariba salesman, the first question will be: on-premise or on-demand?

If your answer is on-premise, the proposed solution will be SAP SRM and Ariba for on-demand.

The main components of the Ariba Sourcing on-demand solution are,

  • Buyer, the core of the solution that contain all the administrative processes and mechanisms. This is typically called downstream.

The other components are called up-stream and they focus on the strategy to put in place and the analysis of the governance of the procurement activities.

  • Sourcing, RFPs, RFIs, auctions… provides the perfect place to promote competitive prices from your providers.
  • Contract Management, for formalization of the awarding,
  • Analysis, that contains the reporting services, enable the control of the expenditure classifying your company with respect the typical expenditure of your industry.

One of the more demanded services is the Ariba network, that enable you to access to a suppliers network with the Ariba free buyer-seller matching service.

You are not asking for a sandwich, you are asking about a thousand dollars software solution, but since these solutions are more and more configurable packages sometimes you face fanny situations.

DMAIC Vs DMADV

I discovered a different approach on Six Sigma: DMADV, that could be compared to the classic DMAIC.

DMAIC           |    DMADV
Define             |    Define
Measure         |    Measure
Analyze          |     Analyze
Improve        |     Design
Control           |     Verify

We should use DMADV methodology when a product or process is not in existence at the organization and one needs to be developed.

Other situation is when the existing product or process exists and has been optimized (using either DMAIC or not) and still does not meet the level of customer specification or Six Sigma level.

Maverick buying

Maverick buying in the supply management arena is the purchasing outside of standard procurement processes, also known as off-contract buying.

The standard processes always tries to minimize this type of practices, because if an organization use it in an excessive way it has fatal consequences. But in some cases it is necessary to be flexible because you can face the situation where a remote location requires an urgent purchase to avoid to shut down its operation.

To try to recognize this practice, measure it, analyze it and understand the cases and volumes of Maverick buying your organization has, is something you should do.

The main reasons of buying off contract are: buyers prefer a local supplier, an item is required in a hurry, it is thought that you are saving money by purchasing a lower-priced item, or the buyer do not know there is a discount on the standard process.

There are two main types of structure for purchase departments:

  1. Centralized operating structure: where all is executed from this organization and does not enable the participation of other specialized teams that can contribute on specific types of purchases.
  2. Center of excellence organization, that focuses on corporate sourcing strategy, and communications with all the procurement people.

Both have advantages and disadvantages with respect the Maverick buying practices.

The challenger sale

Found from a summary of this book:

What’s the secret to sales success? If you’re like most business leaders, you’d say it’s fundamentally about relationships — and you’d be wrong. The best sales-people don’t just build relationships with customers. They challenge them.

Insight #1: There Are Five Kinds of Sales Reps. It turns out that just about every B2B sales executive in the world falls into one of five distinct profiles, a specific set of skills and behaviors that define his or her primary mode of interacting with customers.

These five profiles:

  • Hard Workers show up early, stay late and are always willing to put in the extra effort. And they are always looking for opportunities to improve their game.
  • Relationship Builders are all about nurturing strong personal and professional relationships and advocates across the customer organization.
  • Lone Wolves are deeply self-confident. They tend to follow their own instincts instead of the rules.
  • Reactive Problem Solvers are naturally drawn to ensuring that all of the promises that are inevitably made as part of a sale are actually kept once the deal is done.
  • Challengers are the debaters on the team. They’ve got a deep understanding of the customer’s business and use that understanding to push the customer’s thinking and teach him or her something new about how his or her company can compete more effectively..

Insight #2: One Is a Clear Winner, One Is a Clear Loser. When you take those five profiles and compare them with actual sales performance, you find that there is a very clear winner and a very clear loser: The Challenger spectacularly outperforms the other four, while the Relationship Builder falls dramatically behind. When we show the results to sales leaders, they find them to be deeply disturbing, because they’ve placed by far their biggest bet on the profile least likely to win.

Insight #3: Someone as a Challenger representative:

  • Offers the customer unique perspectives.
  • Has strong two-way communication skills.
  • Knows the individual customer’s value drivers.
  • Can identify economic drivers of the customer’s business.
  • Is comfortable discussing money.
  • Can pressure the customer.

 

A Challenger is really defined by the ability to do three things: teach, tailor and take control.