Welcoming a Guest Post from ISM — AMR's Mickey North Rizza

This morning, I'd like to welcome Mickey North Rizza of AMR Research. Mickey is spending the early part of the week at ISM and has graciously offered to share her perspectives on the event. You can learn more about Mickey’s research activities on her analyst page at AMR Research. Please join me in officially welcoming Mickey to the blogosphere.

The ISM conference held in St. Louis, Missouri this week has brought forth many best practice presentations and discussions in six broad categories:

Lean Supply Management
Leadership in Supply Management
Sustainability and Green Strategies
The Decade Ahead in Supply Management
Business Continuity
Project Management
Global Strategies

The 2400+ participants are engaged, asking lots of questions, and they're looking for ideas to help them execute some quick wins. Many of the discussions have centered on today's economic environment and how to navigate today's world of rising prices and make a difference.

One of the most engaging speakers was the key note luncheon speaker, Daniel Pink, author of the Whole New Mind. Pink's speech brought today's global world of innovation, competition, and economic challenges into sharp focus. His presentation metaphorically outlined an argument for the economy based on the two sides of the brain. The left side of the brain he contends is focused on typical business skills of analytics, logic, and sequential thought vs. the right side the brain that is focused on empathy, curiosity and the big picture. His premise is that the left side of the brain is required to move forward in today's world but not a necessity for business success. It is the right side of the brain that is ultimately making a difference and moving companies more deeply into the global economy.

Pink believes that the scales have tilted to the right side based on three factors: Abundance, Asia and Automation. Abundance has been an important force in the US economy. His analysis of abundance includes that of individuals today with more than 2 cars vs. the single luxury car of 1900s; self storage units because we have too much 'stuff' that doesn't fit in our huge homes of today; and even the iPod - a device we didn't know we needed five years ago. We are, Pink contends, living in a society of plenty. And items like the iPod are designed, created and have a story that is from the right side of the brain.

Asia is a factor because of the availability of lower cost labor and the subsequent movement of repetitive white collar jobs off shore. Pink contends off shoring is massively over hyped in the short run, but under hyped in the long run. Pink believes India has the largest advantage in the global economy based on the number of people and job opportunities and it is targeted to be the largest English speaking country by 2010.

Automation is the final factor. Pink contends that the logical, linear, rule based state of our left brain has been turned into computer code. His humorous but real case in point was the number of individuals that use Turbo Tax vs. an accountant and 123divorce.com vs. a lawyer.

Pink sums up his argument by providing his procurement audience with six key competencies that are required in the new right brained world:

Design: A fundamental business requirement
Story: Not just an argument but what is the impact
Empathy: Put yourself in someone else's shoes
Play: Have fun, don't just be too serious
Meaning: Provide it to flourish
Symphony: The big picture is important. Don't just stay focused on one area.

Pink's arguments provided an interesting backdrop for the changing world of procurement. The three A's -- Abundance, Asia and Automation -- will continue to drive transformation in Procurement and a heightened focus on delivering strategic value. The right brain elements of design, big picture thinking, meaning, and empathy will be the keys to achieving the desired business results.

Spend Matters would like to thank Mickey North Rizza for her sharing her thoughts from ISM.

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