Episode 14: Embracing a Big Picture Mindset
By Katherine McCleery | January 25, 2021
People outside of procurement don’t always understand or even know what procurement does. Why? Kelly Barner believes it’s because procurement has lost the ability to connect with the rest of the business. How do you break away from that? How do you embrace creativity in your role? How do you widen your lens to see the big picture? Listen to this episode of The Sourcing Hero to hear Kelly’s enthusiastic viewpoint.
Don’t know who Kelly is? Kelly Barner is a Procurement & Supply Chain Writer and Influencer, and the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point. But her bio doesn’t stop there. She’s also the General Manager at the Art of Procurement and the Show Host for an upcoming Supply Chain Now monthly livestream, “Dial P for Procurement.” Don’t miss this one!
[2:15] Flexibility and adaptability are key
[4:55] Embrace creativity in procurement
[10:39] How do you get the big picture?
[13:19] Grow beyond your scope
[18:10] Exciting developments to come in 2021
Embrace creativity in procurement
According to Kelly, a sourcing hero is someone that can focus on the details and the big picture at the same time. In a recent conversation, Kelly realized that up-and-coming talents in procurement don’t want to be assigned to strategic sourcing tasks. Why? They view it as a boring workflow—a basic checklist. But it isn’t that. If you focus on that, you’ll limit your results.
Kelly emphasizes that if there’s no creativity, then you don’t have any way to connect what you’re sourcing to what the company is really trying to achieve: generating revenue, gaining market share, and impressing shareholders.
What does it mean to a store to have produce bags that are biodegradable, strong, and easy to rip from the roll? That little detail can make the difference between someone being loyal to your store—or being annoyed by your store. You’re not just looking at the mix of plastics, the weight of the bag, the color, etc. You have to think about how it contributes to the consumer experience. If you can achieve that—get the specs, hit the savings—that is sourcing heroism.
Hamlet + the big picture
In Kelly’s senior year, she took a class that was half English majors and half Theatre majors. They had to read a play, then act out scenes. One day, they were acting out the famous Hamlet graveyard scene. Hamlet picks up the skull and gives his speech to Horatio, with a gravedigger waiting nearby. The professor told everyone to freeze. She then asked the gravedigger: “What is this scene about?” He said, “I’m trying to dig a hole and these two guys won’t stop talking and get out of my way.”
From his perspective, that’s what the play was about. He’s in the trench digging the dirt. But if you have someone—like the audience—seeing the entire big picture, you have two different stories happening. You’re not just digging a hole. There’s a lot more at play. Kelly notes that you have to keep your eyes on the horizon and work toward the prize. How do you understand the big picture? How is it transformational? Listen to hear Kelly’s thoughts!
How to grow beyond your scope
Kelly emphasizes that you have to read. You have to be a consumer of general business news. You should be educated about your company, your industry, and general trends in technology. It’s important to expose yourself to new ideas—even if they don’t directly apply to you. People outside of procurement don’t always understand what procurement does. Kelly Barner feels that procurement has lost the ability to connect with the larger business. But if you always expose yourself to new ideas, you can break away from that.
You must also care about your company. Kelly notes that if you love procurement, don’t be afraid to say it. Kelly implores listeners to be interesting when talking about procurement. Be a procurement geek. Be the person at the Christmas party that talks about why there was a toilet paper shortage. There needs to be more positivity, enthusiasm, and pride when you address the rest of the company. What else can you do? Listen to find out!
What’s happening in Kelly’s world in 2021? Listen to the whole episode for a plethora of upcoming resources!