Sigi Osagie on Procurement Change Management at the Trade Extensions User Conference

Sigi has an inimitable way of delivering speeches: he has a genuine passion for what he does (helping people build a credible and effective procurement capability) and it reflects in his presentations, and in his persona. He talks to his audience as if he were sitting in the pub conversing directly with them – and that makes his speeches particularly engaging. Sigi bases his teachings on real-life experiences, so when he talked about “Procurement Success – what to pack for the Journey of Change,” at the recent Trade Extensions user conference (held at the impressive Emirates Stadium - pictured below) you could be sure he knew what he was talking about.

Sigi is a regular contributor to Spend Matters content, so you may already know that, among other things, he specialises in transformational improvement. But did you know that many years ago, he arrived in England from Africa, with holes in his shoes and £3 in his pocket? – and then went on to become a director, with global supply management responsibilities spanning a dozen or more countries, for a multi-billion-pound blue-chip conglomerate? Basically – Sigi transformed himself.  He learnt that if he wanted to survive and succeed he would have to take advantage of every opportunity (even if that meant starting by mopping floors in Häagen Dazs in the west end – which he did) and learnt to build everything from scratch.

TE event

He went on a journey of transformation and learnt how to change - and that was the topic of his presentation. Change – he says – is something every procurement function needs – but they need to learn how to manage it. Because we don’t know how to navigate the journey, we get it wrong, and that damages our reputation – the last thing we want when we are trying to raise our profile. We have a big role to play – we get to be the DJ at the party. We have to deliver the results, so We have to influence people including senior management. We must be seen to be relevant and have the right reputation.

Most stories we hear about change management, he said, involve pain and frustration. So if we have a better understanding of what change is – we can counter those. Everyone knows about ‘change’ nowadays – it’s a growing business imperative. (Sigi did a Google search and found 27 million ‘experts’ on change out there!). I have done change, he said, and I’m still learning about it. What is important to realise is that change is a journey – not an event -- and it’s a big deal to most sectors.

Sigi 3So why is it that two-thirds of change programmes fail? Why do so many get it wrong? He asked the floor and the answers came: Resistance to change? Lack of senior buy-in? Inaccurate view:  necessary versus perceived change? Lack of budget?

The Essence is People – he said – People and their attitudes are the key to change management success, and that includes senior management support. The problem is:

  • We don’t inform people enough – we don’t engage them.
  • Some companies don’t put the effort in – they think that being big and successful makes them impermeable to failure.
  • Sometimes we overcomplicate – we get so hung up with process we forget there’s no change without the people change.

There are three sides to the procurement change triangle: the people making the change; the people affected by the change; the senior execs who need to buy into the change (and some external people).

So, think about how you sell it to them, how you make sure they understand the need for the change, how to make them think and act differently. Tomorrow, we will take you through the rest of the journey.

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