The Next Step: Getting Support for ‘The Big Idea’ – Rio Tinto’s CFO Chris Lynch Offers Tips for Procurement

As our series featuring Rio Tinto’s CFO Chris Lynch on how a procurement organization can contribute “big ideas” to the business continues (see Part 1 and Part 2), we come to the next step in the process of making big ideas stick: “getting support.”

Here, Chris offers a number of concrete suggestions.

First and foremost, he suggests finding a “big promoter” higher up the corporate hierarchy while recognizing that people at the top are “very time poor.” Because of this, it is critical to think about how this executive patron will look at the idea with very limited time.

Here, procurement team members must realize that executives are “always very time poor,” so it is essential to “give them a context.” Specifically, especially if it is truly a big idea, think “how they will present it to the board” effectively in as succinct and quantifiable a manner as possible. Train the trainer (for the idea)! In other words, make it easy for others to run with the idea, explaining it and letting it become their own.

Beyond this, Chris offers additional advice on getting support:

  • Think about what will make the idea stand out. Why, in a world of competing priorities, is this the one idea others should take their time to consider and support?
  • Realize timing (for the idea) is everything
  • Communication style and approach is as important as the idea itself
  • Keep all presentations compelling
  • When you present the idea, remember the “most important part of any talk is the Q&A.” This is where “conviction and rationale are tested.” And, if you are presenting “to me,” Chris suggests, you better have it!
  • Be confident
  • Show accountability for delivery
  • Over communicate throughout the process – from the initial sharing of the idea through to fleshing out the concepts and even roll out (remember, ideas can always be killed even after getting the green light)

Up next in our series exploring Chris’ talk: implementing the big idea.

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