Public Spend and Riding a Bike: A Fresh Look at Successful Buyer-Supplier Relationships

In Spend Matters’ effort to examine public spend, we came across an article on Public Spend Forum that highlights a universal truth — while also leading into a lesson on rethinking how to source a project.

The truth is that having the knowledge about something doesn’t mean that you can understand it enough to use it effectively.

The example given was a cyclist trying to ride a bike that steers opposite from the way we typically ride a bike. Turn right and this bike goes left. Turn left and it goes right. (It’s on YouTube. Have a look at The Backwards Brain Bicycle.) The rider has to unlearn all the complex reactions your brain calculates to ride a bike. It took the show’s host months to learn to ride the backward bike. Then he couldn’t ride a regular bike! But it took him about 20 minutes of tipping over for his brain to help him regain his regular form.

The takeaway is that sometimes we need to unlearn the typical biases we have and to retool our thinking to what we really want to accomplish.

Kate Vitasek, a professor at the Haslem College of Business Administration at the University of Tennessee and founder of the Vested business model, learned a similar lesson when studying why some buyer-supplier relationships were more successful than others.

Along the way she studied these transactions — even looking at U.S. Air Force procurement deals — and developed the Vested business model, which has five steps.

“We were looking for a better way to buy complex services, something the Air Force spends billions of dollars on. They wanted deep, inquisitive research into why some deals succeed and others don’t,” she told host Raj Sharma, Public Spend Forum’s CEO, on the “Public Procurement Leaders” podcast.

Check out all the insights on the five steps here — along with the podcast and Govshop, a way to connect with suppliers for the public sector market.

Public Spend Forum (PSF) is a public sector procurement global community and market intelligence platform dedicated to improving public procurement and the public sector market. It tackles universal public procurement issues and produces podcasts, articles, opinion pieces, community notices as well as news stories, and it holds regular events. To check out what it’s been up to, follow the links above or follow @PSpendForum on Twitter.

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