The Five Principles of Sourcing – Our New Paper Available Now

Mars is one of the most extraordinary business success stories of the past 100 years. To remain a private firm, whilst growing into one the largest food (human and petfoods) businesses in the world, with some of the very best known brand names in any sector, is extraordinary.

But Mars has one thing in common with many other very successful businesses -- a very strong sense of corporate identity, style and philosophy, underpinned by “the Five Principles of Mars”. Quality, Responsibility, Efficiency, Mutuality and Freedom – even having left more than twenty years ago, they are imprinted firmly on the memory. Everyone working for Mars was expected to know the Five Principles and operate within their spirit.

Mars is not alone in this, and many firms, both private and publicly quoted, also take this approach. Johnson & Johnson is another successful business that looks to live by its “credo”, another set of beliefs that were designed way back in 1943 to guide staff in their daily work. Ikea has its set of seven “values” reflecting the founder’s style and the culture of the firm; Proctor & Gamble has “values” and “principles”, whilst McKinsey quotes  its own three “values” which sum up the ethos of a successful professional services firm.

So when Garry Mansell of Trade Extensions and I were talking recently, both ex-Mars managers (or “Past Masters” as we like to call ourselves), this topic came up, and an idea took shape. Would it be useful and interesting to try and design a similar set of principles, not for a business, but for the whole process of “sourcing”?  The “Five Principles of Sourcing” had a certain ring to it, we thought.

No sooner said than done. We’re pleased to announce the first in a series of briefing papers that will be published over the next 12 months around that theme. This first instalment is sub-titled “What and Why?” and is available for download now (free on registration).

In the future papers, we will explore our five principles in some detail, but in this first paper, we cover the background and explain why so many successful companies promulgate their philosophies in this manner - what benefits are they trying to achieve? We then get into our own logic for developing the “Five Principles of Sourcing”, and ask whether they might really be beneficial to the procurement profession (the answer is “yes”, you won’t be surprised to know)!  Then we do the big reveal – what do we think are the Five Principles of Sourcing?

Well, they are … no, we’re not going to tell you today. You will just have to go and download the paper.

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