Ever heard of a thing called inertia? Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion, or the tendency to do nothing. In business speak, this phenomenon is often characterized as analysis paralysis. In a corporate world of business cases, business plans, strategic roadmaps and the push to constantly sell, align and achieve, it’s no wonder procurement leaders are drowning in what needs to be done, but struggle to scratch the surface. How can it be that a top procurement leader whose very career path has been the result of their outstanding productivity and accolades suddenly faces a precipice of declining performance and the disastrous stagnation of innovation? Simple. Because their knowledge impedes creativity, causing inertia.
Procurement leaders who have spent the entirety of their career in one industry, one company, or one function, namely procurement, subconsciously experience limiting beliefs—and by limiting I mean success-hindering, momentum-killing beliefs—about themselves and the procurement function. Without ever intending it, procurement leaders often poison their potential by allowing their knowledge and experience to cloud their creativity and vision of what they can imagine going forward. They often resist any change to the current state of operations because they are so focused on delivering in the here and now. Even if they manage to recall their vision for a world-class procurement organization, the age-old question emerges: where do I even begin? The path of least resistance is to simply do nothing, to change nothing; the alternative could lead to failure. To these skeptics wary of innovative change, I’d like to pose the question: isn’t the very act of doing still far more productive than the act of thinking or talking about doing something, regardless of the outcome?
Does this statement sound familiar: “We’re cutting budgets and unfortunately we need to reduce spend on professional development.” The balance of my professional career has and continues to be focused on helping teams improve productivity, longevity and deliver the right results. For more than 12 years people leaders have told me that their biggest obstacles to training their teams are that they don’t have enough time and dollars. Is this merely a symptom of a bigger challenge? Why is it that seemingly every time budgets are cut, a line item under the microscope is professional development?
In my experience, two primary reasons exist for cuts to professional development budgets. The first reason is that companies are fearful that if they invest in their employees through professional development, they will leave and go to the competition or somewhere else. Secondly, it has been historically difficult for advocates of professional development to demonstrate a return on investment (ROI).
Recent findings from a survey of chief procurement officers by Deloitte and research on professional development shed some light on those myths and support a business case for investing in your people and training them to be the best they can be.
“If we invest in professional development, people will take those skills and go somewhere else…”
Perhaps. The truth is that people will come and go at every organization; this is a reality that will always be the case. No company will ever experience 100% retention of their people. Besides, is that really what you want? The point is, worrying that you will somehow have a mass exodus of top talent as a result of investing in their professional development is unfounded.