ProcuRising Q1 2021

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Q1 - 2021


The Value and Values of Supplier Diversity: A Conversation with Rachel Kutz

A World in Crisis: How Resilience and Sustainability Can Come Together and Help Us Rebuild To Outsource or to Insource? Why Not a Combination of Both? Automation & Digitalization Driving Innovation: Directions on Navigating the Road to the Future


The Value and Values of Supplier Diversity: A Conversation with Rachel Kutz


Automation & Digitalization


A World in Crisis: How Resilience and Sustainability Can Come Together and Help Us Rebuild


Driving Innovation: Directions on Navigating the Road to the Future


To Outsource or to Insource? Why Not a Combination of Both?

Q1 - 2021


Decisions, decisions. They face us at every turn. This was especially true in 2020, a year filled with unexpected changes and outright upheaval, catapulting us into constant situations that demand decisions—immediately.


Tough decisions. Swift decisions. Wise decisions. Decisions that will determine the course of the future.

Writers Outside Contributor ­ Advertising

No pressure, right? In order to help you as you face each important fork in the road, we’ve gathered a panel of procurement professionals who share their expertise, offer enlightening insights, and provide the encouragement and guidance all our hearts are hungering for. If your heart is also filled with hesitation as you face decision making in these changing times, our interview with procurement expert Tomas Wiemer is the perfect prescription for what ails you. Weimer details how the decision to embrace rather than resist the changes is the right way to go. After all, it’s coming whether we like it or not. In fact, its already here. Wiemer specifically highlights how an open-armed approach to digital transformation will help keep your company on solid ground, even as the world swirls around you. Outside contributor David McCarty, President of CRS, pens a thought-provoking article tackling a spin on the age-old question: Are you in or are you out? (Procurement edition).

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Dr. Stefan Schaper, CEO of Schaper-Tech, offers us driving directions. Our destination? Innovation and adaptation. With his help, we can push past the self-doubt and fear every fork in the road presents, confidently forging a path to a brighter future. Tara Norton, Global Head of Supply Chain Solutions at ENGIE Impact, offers hope amid the chaos of COVID-19. Norton reminds us of our resilience, while offering the encouraging idea that we now have an opportunity to use these trying times to focus on more than mere survival. Her expert insights provide a proverbial blueprint for rebuilding—one decision at a time—in a responsible and sustainable way. Finally, writer Ron Hedley leads us on the perfect trek for today’s times: an exploration of social responsibility, specifically in how it pertains to the vital need for supplier diversity in procurement and the supply chain. Our guide? Rachel Kutz,Vice President, Consumer Supply Chain & Global Logistics, AT&T. Pack light, we have a long way to go. But we’re on our way. With you every step, as you face each choice, amid the churn,

Andy Beth Miller


The Value and Values of Supplier Diversity: A Conversation with Rachel Kutz By Ronald Hedley

Rachel Kutz is VP, Consumer Supply Chain & Global Logistics, Global Connections and Supply Chain at AT&T. Although her journey to AT&T was unconventional and circuitous, she has now been employed for over 20 years by a company that she loves. She is especially proud of AT&T’s history of social responsibility. Kutz stated, “We started our supplier diversity program in 1968 and have [championed sup-plier diversity] for more than 50 years. It was a grassroots program that was started in Chicago by local employees.”

Kutz is referring to the Chicago Business Opportunity Fair. The sixties were a toxic time in the country, especially in Chicago. There, in 1968, a group of African American businessmen led a movement to promote minority businesses. Kutz recounted the event, “A lot of employees at the local Bell in Chicago, specifically the leader of procurement at that time, decided to build a grassroots program where they would work with the local minority coalition to target spend with diverse companies.” That year, AT&T reported $175,000 purchases from nine diverse companies. The company has been a leader in


supplier diversity ever since. “Just in the past three years, we’ve spent over $43 billion with certified diverse owned businesses,” Kutz shared. As mentioned above, Kutz took a circuitous route to vocational felicity. But the twists and turns of her personal journey were valuable experiences that helped shape who she is today. She has a degree in astrophysics and can mix one heck of a drink. Still, the proverbial question must be begged: How does one get into supply chain at AT&T with an astrophysics background?

Childhood & Astrophysics When asked about it, Kutz responded, “This connects to influences in my career. I was a little kid when Star Wars and ET [premiered]. My dad took me to see them. [Because of those films,] I wanted to be an astronaut.” School was easy for Kutz, so her dreams of outer space were academically feasible. Perhaps it was too easy. “I played every sport. I was voted most likely to succeed. And I was in the top three of my class. When life comes too easily for you, you tend to take it for granted. In my senior year, I had missed all the deadlines to get into college. I screwed up and didn’t send in my paperwork,” she recalled. Fortunately, Kutz was allowed to matriculate at the University of Colorado. “They had a great astrophysics program. The problem is if you graduate with [a degree in astrophysics, you] still don’t know how to be an astronaut.” So, she turned to the fine art of mixology. “I worked

as a server and bartender [throughout] school. I had a great time,” she recalled. But Kutz had to wonder: Will I end up pouring drinks the rest of my life? But despite her doubts, there was hope. Kutz recalled, “I checked around to see what I could do for a living. Luckily, I networked with some people I knew in Colorado from the cell phone world. I was told, ‘With an astrophysics degree, you could design cell phone networks.’” Kutz ended up in Detroit, Michigan, where she got her start with AT&T. She explained her first role within the company, and how she was able to exceed expectations: “I designed and optimized their wireless networks. I worked in wireless network operations for about 12 years, but what I really enjoyed was sales and the business side because I’m good at making difficult things accessible. When I indicated that I wanted to change roles, AT&T believed in me and offered a job in supply chain. Here I am, still in supply chain 10 years later.”

A Conversation About Supply Chain Diversity: Hedley: How does the AT&T Business Development Program promote diversity? Kutz: AT&T’s program only utilizes companies that have been certified. We allow for a multitude of certifications. It does not just have to be the NMSDC (National Minority Supply Development Council). It can [also] be through local governments or state governments. [Our objective is] to make sure that companies qualify and are confirmed as diverse suppliers. Hedley: Why is diversity so important? Kutz: Diversity and inclusion are core values of AT&T. We have four pillars: our employees, the community that we serve, our customers, and our suppliers. Supplier diversity is not just philanthropic. Over the past three years, we’ve worked hard to define the value to the business. If we can’t define business value, then supplier diversity [becomes] a feel good not a need to. And worse yet, it can be perceived as a compliance program.


Hedley: If supplier diversity doesn’t lower cost and isn’t primarily philanthropic, what is its value to AT&T? Kutz: This is Supply Chain 101. The more suppliers that I have access to, the better value I get because it promotes competition, which of course improves quality and provides competitive costs. The value to us is that we get access to a larger supplier base, which is, again, Supply Chain 101. The more our supply chain and our value chain mirrors our employee chain and consumer base, the more business we can do. [Supply chain diversity] really becomes a flywheel [that] improves the economy in our communities by utilizing these suppliers. They put more diverse employees to work. Those employees now have money to buy AT&T products. Those employees [also] tend to be more loyal because we are creating more revenue generation in those communities. Hedley: What about tier 1 suppliers and supplier diversity? Kutz: It ties back to the economic impact in the community. This is more than just the diverse suppliers that we work with directly. This is about our tier 1 suppliers and making sure that they utilize a hearty supplier diversity program. This is about AT&T's value chain, and it’s about utilizing spend to ensure that everyone we do business with shares AT&T’s values and is doing their part to increase their use of diverse suppliers. Hedley: Are you concerned about slavery in the supply chain? Kutz: Yes, we absolutely [are]. We look at our suppliers and our supplier base. We [strive] to hold them as accountable as we hold ourselves. A lot of the values and the programs that AT&T supports, we push into our supplier base. In 2019, we became an official signatory for the UN Global Compact. Being a signatory [signifies] that we advance social and environmental [issues] through our policies, programs, and actions. These principles are embedded in our company values. Hedley: How does the UN Global Compact affect your suppliers? Kutz: We write in our contracts that [our suppliers] need to be following fair labor standards. We make suppliers [accountable] to us through our Principles of Conduct for Suppliers [policy]. We also have a human rights and communication policy [detailing] that suppliers will not use involuntary labor, child labor, prison labor, debt bondage, or indentured or forced labor. When something’s important to us, we spell it out [in the contract]. Hedley: How do you ensure that your suppliers comply? Kutz: We monitor [our] suppliers. We hold them accountable through a contract, and we can put them in breach if we find out [that they are not upholding that contract]. We became members of JAC (Joint Audit Cooperation). It’s an organization that facilitates collaboration among our peer telecom companies and manufacturers. They audit supply chains worldwide to verify [compliance]. They monitor labor practices, human rights, health and safety, [and] ethics and environment [for AT&T].


Final Thoughts My final question to Kutz was not focused on supply chain. Instead, I asked her about achieving success as a woman in a man’s world. Kutz attributes her success to the role models that have influenced her life: “I have been so lucky to have grown up when strong women were [considered] cool. As a woman, you take a lot of heat being smart. When you [reach] your teenage years, it’s almost not cool to be smart. [I had] role models that were smart. [Princess Leia, Kelly McGillis, and my grandmother] were influencers to me because they told me that it was cool to be smart. And it was cool to do what I wanted to do, and nothing could hold me back.” The supply chain world is fortunate that Kutz has not held back. She is an influencer whose impact reaches far beyond her official role at AT&T. She said, “What I’m about is getting other corporations to recognize that they need to change their approach to supplier diversity.” She ended our interview with a reference to her astronaut dreams of yore: “I think the sky's the limit.”

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A World in Crisis:

How Resilience and Sustainability Can Come Together and Help Us Rebuild By Andy Beth Miller

There we were, early 2020. As we rang in a new year and welcomed a fresh decade, our hopes were high and the future seemed ripe with possibility and promise. Suddenly, the Coronavirus pandemic hit, and we found ourselves living in unprecedented times amid a swirl of uncertainty and an economic shakeup of epic proportions. The virus, wildly different government responses to it, and the associated lockdowns, hit all individuals and businesses, unequally, yes, but everyone was—and still is—affected. And then, just as the lockdowns started to be lifted, another incredibly human crisis arrived, where the whole world witnessed protests for racial justice take hold across the United States, adding a very different and incredibly important test for our global systems. In these unprecedented times, how we will respond? Where do we go from here? These are obviously extraordinarily personally challenging times for many and in myriad ways, and they are also posing challenges for procurement professionals, who are in the very difficult position of making day-to-day decisions that will affect the survival of their businesses and the health of their supply chains.


But Tara Norton, supply chain sustainability expert and advisor to BidOps, feels we have an opportunity to use these trying times to focus on more than survival. As we sit down, virtually of course, Norton is careful not to minimize the monumental crisis that COVID-19 and the swell of Black Lives Matter protests has brought crashing into the middle of our living rooms, into our lives —and supply chains. Norton looks upon this time of extreme turmoil as an awakening, albeit a very, very rude one. “First, the global pandemic affected all kinds of systems—supply chains obviously being a big part of that. And then, the protests started, reminding us that the systems that we have in place are not fair for everyone, and we must do something about this. This has been a real test on resilience, and how resilient many systems are,” Norton points out.

According to Norton, these paired series of events has presented us with a catalyst that is challenging (okay, forcing) us to take a hard look at our business practices and ask ourselves: “In the context of this massive disruption that has hit all systems—including supply chains—what is the intersection between how companies are integrating sustainability into their supply chains and how they are thinking about resilience?” And just in case we missed it, she then reiterates: “The word of the day is resilience, and there is much to be said about how resilience and sustainability come together in global supply chains. A sustainable supply chain is one that uses resources wisely, that is fair to and takes care of the people and workers all along it, and has flexibility and

agility so it is able to adapt and recover from shocks. All of these characteristics come together to make it resilient.” According to the National Academy of Sciences, resilience is “the ability to prepare for, absorb, recover from and more successfully adapt to adverse events.” When I think of resilience, my mind immediately goes to an image of a rubber band, symbolizing the idea of “bouncing back” from difficulties and hardships I’ve just come through. However, Norton—especially when concerning procurement—takes a more proactive perspective, pinpointing the telltale signs of our resilience to be involving the proof of profound growth. Or, for better wording… forward adaptation.

After showcasing how resilience and sustainability can come together, Norton shares two basic action points that she sees as being the starting point towards building resilient, sustainable supply chains:

Understand what is in your supply chain: To minimize disruption, it is critical to build traceability and have transparency, not only in your first-tier supply chain, but also upstream. Also, understand the business and environmental social and governance (ESG) risks. Invest in supplier networks: This involves having good relationships, being a good partner to suppliers, business continuity, supporting the suppliers that are most critical to your business.

As we take this inventory, Norton encourages us to focus on asking: “Where is it working?” Specifically, “If you look at your supply chain, there is going to be something that is working well. [Focus on] understanding why it is working and trying to extrapolate that.” This could include taking such proactive steps as building redundancy into your system, being a good partner by paying suppliers on time, and ensuring that critical suppliers have business continuity plans. According to Norton, “All of these things are things that companies are supposed to do already, but can kind of go by the wayside when things are going well.” Sometimes,

apparently, it takes a crisis to shine a proverbial light, illuminating those cracks in the system. As we are faced with these cracks, Norton shares that this is a good time to look at the metrics that you are using to measure your supply chain. Specifically, avoiding the pitfall of being pigeonholed to focusing on cost-cutting or efficiency alone. “It’s also a good time to shore up your risk management processes and design them for today’s uncertainty,” she shares. These crises have really underlined how connected we all are, and no more so than in global supply chains. Perhaps during such a difficult time for the world, and for supply chain and procurement professionals, focusing on traceability and building relationships seems a good place to start to rebuild.


To Outsource or to Insource? Why Not a Combination of Both? By David McCarty | President, Contract Review Advisers

As I attended industry events over the past year, there were two main hot topics for several of the panels: (1) When does an organization look to embrace outside expertise? (2) How do internal teams react to combining these experts with their current process? This is definitely a conversation worth having for many companies as they look to enhance their organization via new technology or new insights from industry experts. Several comments were made during these industry events that stopped me in my tracks. Responses from people ran the gamut, some of which included: “We do not have a budget for that”; “We have industry experts in-house”; “ We have a tough time adapting new technology”; and the classic, “We have always done it this way.” While I realize that within an organization, we each have to pick and choose our battles, in order for any organization—big or small—to grow, you have to constantly be exploring new ways to enhance yourself and your organization. One of my favorite quotes, which a partner of mine has on his email signature, reads:

Do we want stasis and rationing, or do we want dynamism and growth? - Jeff Bezos


I can still recall when I first helped launch the first B2B GPO in Indirect in the late 90s. I was sitting in a room with several Fortune 500 companies and looking at basic commodities, and many of the companies each claimed to “have the best contract.” However, the reality was that no one company had the best contract in itself, but rather, it was taking the experience and combined knowledge of all the participants that created a best in class contract in the end. By having an open mind and vision, this allowed us to evaluate all options. The point here is that what was going on 20 years ago is still going on today, but we have an opportunity via experience and technology to enhance our current state. However, in order to do this successfully, we need to be open to these new ideas and new technologies. As leaders within your company, if you are not already doing so, you should be looking at technology, industry groups, and industry experts to enhance your organization. You need to set an internal mindset within your team, one that focuses on how they are doing a great job with the current technology in-house and the experience that they have, but also reminds them that they constantly need to be looking at new and innovative ways to bring additional value to their internal customers. The key is letting your internal teams know that you support them, and that any enhancement brought into the organization will be recognized by leadership in a positive way!

Every man I meet is my master in some point, and in that I learn of him. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you are hesitant to bring up a new idea or approach to your boss or team, my suggestion is to have your value points prepared beforehand, then go ahead and bring it up to them anyway. The chances are that they are thinking about how to enhance what is currently going on already, and by bringing up ideas, you just may be surprised at how they are readily accepted. After all, who wouldn’t be open to improving the way things are done? If you receive too many negative comments, maybe it is time that you evaluate your company and look to new organizations for employment. Some of the new technology and innovative organizations that I have experienced making a difference in our community this past year include Tealbook, Scout-Workday, Real Sourcing Network (RSN), Bid Ops, Wonder Services and the Procurement Foundry.

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. -Steve Jobs


Automation By Andy Beth Miller



Tomas Wiemer has had many years of experience within Global Direct and Indirect Procurement Category Management, specifically with a focus on Digital Strategy Transformation. He has also had many years of experience in coming alongside corporations and individuals, helping them continuously improve in procurement and digital transformation. I had the privilege to sit down with Wiemer and discuss a topic that is at the forefront of many entrepreneurs’ and workers’ minds, automation versus digitalization, and specifically, why digitalization is superior, and so very important to embrace in this ever-evolving world. In fact, the crux of the catalyst for the need for digitalization is exactly that, to address the change constantly occurring in today’s modern business landscape.


But, we will get to all of that. First, I asked Wiemer to start with the basics, asking him to clarify what exactly are automation and digitalization, as well as how they are different. According to Wiemer, there are many definitions, but the most simplified version he shared was that, “Automation remains a business process optimization model that does not contain any form of ‘intelligence,’ while digitalization is a data centric model supported by algorithms that give new decision options based on enhanced internal and external information access.”

Perhaps it was the still slightly stunned, glazed-over look of mild confusion in my eyes, but Wiemer graciously followed up this explanation with further insight that was more easy to unpack, explaining that, “Automation streamlines processes with shorter execution cycle times, reduces error rates, and is based on operational efficiencies principles, [whereas] digitalization drives new business models and gives new decision options based on interconnected data coming from the inside and outside of the corporate environment.” He then added, “It will also develop new types of business collaborations through platforms and social media exchanges.” And if you are wondering how this will all happen, you are not alone. Wiemer explains that it is all about change, and specifically, our embracing it. This is something, according to Wiemer, that is not always a smooth process. “The majority of companies are more on the automation front, as the digitalization path requires high transformation maturity to be able to embrace the change,” he says. “So, how do you approach hesitant ‘embracers?’” I wonder aloud.

At its very foundation, this process of digital transformation and evolution, in order to be done successfully, requires two vital elements. According to Wiemer, “It is really based on trust and clarity. It is important to select from the start the ‘transformation ambassadors,’ with people coming from the ranks who are motivated to drive the changes.” It is these key individuals, Wiemer says, who “need to be convinced and believe in it.” He also shares how important transparency and full-disclosure are, specifically, the need for leaders “to openly address the fact that many execution jobs will be reduced.” This is an unavoidable fact, but Wiemer remains unphased, insisting that this does not have to be seen as a negative thing, nor viewed through a filter of fear. “It is important to tell the truth and to explain that the work environment will change. Maybe, for some people, the corporate work environment will not be for them anymore in the future, as we are witnessing a real digital revolution that will impact not only our professional activities, but also our daily lives.”

After admitting that change is difficult, and sometimes even scary for a lot of people, Wiemer explains how he uses his skills and knowledge to put their minds at ease, while explaining to them the great benefits of digitalization over automation. “Change management associated with transformation programs needs to be explained by the executive leadership sponsor,” he shares, before specifically giving us the vital questions that these leaders need to address from the get-go, which are: “Why, do we need to change? How will it happen? What might happen?”


Wiemer definitely does not mince words. Simply put, he says that “some will succeed in adapting, and others simply won’t.” This is why it is so important that the leadership needs to be hands-on and involved every step of the way. “The leadership will have to assess carefully their employee population and maturely try their very best to guide their employees through this process,” Wiemer reiterates. Wiemer then gets to the crux of the issue, pointing out that, “Digitalization can deliver dramatic change and results, but it's really the approach and organizational culture that are critical to getting right in order to achieve the full benefits.” For this reason, according to Wiemer, it is important to do several things from the very beginning: Define the real motivations and reasons for this change (far beyond cost reductions) Establish the maturity stage of the company Have an executive sponsor, who is willing to invest and engage Promote regular communication campaigns or lunch and shares Discuss how far the management is willing to go in terms of potential organization changes, skill sets management, policy changes, etc.

For Wiemer, even though we are talking about utilizing digital technology and innovative processes, it still clearly all comes down to people. “The technology is only the support,” he shares, while giving the example of a linear sequence of necessary change:

=> People – Process – Technology

It was all beginning to make much more sense to me now as I listened to Wiemer’s expert explanations, and in fitting, full-circle form, it all came back to our beginning conversation, whereby one’s mindset is the real critical issue when it comes to receiving the full benefits of digitalization. “It is first a mental shift,” Wiemer states. “It is important to develop a personal feeling for it and have a personal opinion on what it could mean for your own business.” In Wiemer’s own experience with the process, he explains that he “realized that I needed to read, learn, be trained and be exposed to a completely different approach,” which is exactly what he did. And now, it is exactly what he is spending his life empowering others to do as well, one person, and mindset, at a time.



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By Andy Beth Miller When I learned I would be interviewing Dr. Stefan Schaper for this article, I was floored. This is because, as acting CEO of Schaper-Tech, an innovation and technology consulting firm he created in 2019, Schaper’s main focus surrounds helping guide others in evolving and growing in the main areas of TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving), design thinking, and agile methods.

So what does this mean? Are we doomed, or is this an invitation for innovation? Schaper claims the latter:

The fact that he holds an MBA and PhD only elevated him further in my esteem, so I was understandably anxious to get his wisdom and guidance with next steps post-COVID. Because if ever there was a time to pick a professional problem-solver’s brain, it’s mid pandemic, staring down a long tunnel at the future unknown.

Ironically, Schaper suggests taking a figural step back to look to the past, then taking stock of what has come before in order to ultimately move forward: “I believe we can learn from the past: Millions of years ago, the Earth was dominated by huge dinosaurs. They ruled the planet and lived over 150 millions of years. Then, suddenly an asteroid hit the Earth and the following crisis changed the history forever: Mammals were more flexible to adopt to the new conditions and started a new era.”

In this year of real upheaval, I couldn’t help but ask Schaper where he saw the realm of procurement standing at present. According to Schaper, the bar is set pretty low, and there is much room to grow: “Many parts of the procurement process are still pretty much old style: People work with spreadsheets and ERP systems; people meet with vendors and negotiate. Compared to other parts of the business, the level of innovation is relatively low.”

And how shall we answer, I inquired? In the midst of chaos and a global pandemic—following a year of constant shifts we’ve had to adjust to daily—how are we to open this proverbial door to progress in the best way possible?

As I listen, I can see where he is going with this clearly, and I am instantly on board with this more-than-apt analogy already. “I see the current pandemic as such an event. Many ‘dinosaurs,’ including those in procurement, will come into trouble. [In contrast], the most adopted organizations will profit from the current situation.”

This means there is a lot of potential for disruption. We are in an age of technological change. AI, Big Data and other developments are knocking on the door…


Now, as I have aged, I have definitely been compared to a dinosaur in several areas, especially by my millennial nieces and nephews. While these instances were mostly bemoaning my lack of knowledge and zero cool factor regarding the current “in” trends like Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, and more social media whose names I haven’t quite mastered the lingo for (is Tweet really considered a verb nowadays?), I know enough to understand that being categorized as a dinosaur is NEVER a good look on anybody. So I, like you I am sure, determined immediately to avoid extinction (or aging out) at all costs.

In fact, a panic seized me a bit as Schaper explained the rapid-fire changes that are inevitably going to come to procurement. After all, in his own words, they are already “knocking at the door.” I want us to be prepared as best we can—prepared and ready to adapt—so I ask Schaper for a crash course on what’s coming next. He kindly obliged, graciously putting it in laymen’s terms: “I see mainly two big trends which will change procurement: Increasing degree of automation (automated negotiations, redlining processes, compliance checks, automated repetitive tasks and so on), and increasing demand for control (this means stronger transparency on process, prices for items depending on geography, compliance to environmental standards etc).” Schaper quickly followed up this dual enlightenment with the gentle warning that progress of any sort is bound to be met with various obstacles along the way. And while we have certainly gotten used to the bumpy

ride that was 2020 already, Schaper offers some insight to help us best navigate the “new normal” to come. Mainly, he points to people as the answer to what ails us. “The obstacles are the same as in any change process. The people should be in the center of attention,” he explains.

Many innovators have the tendency to focus on the technology, but the people in the organization drive the change. This requires involvement, communication, and often, cultural change.

And as we—the people—drive this change, in his own words, Schaper encourages us to hedge our bets for success by ushering in innovation through experimentation: “My personal opinion is: Experiment as much as possible! And involve open-minded people into those experiments.”


After voicing how critical this open-minded character trait is within your team, he further expounds that “[since] digitization is often perceived as a threat similar [to] a Lean Program [by] doing experiments, iterating, and demanding feedback, you can get easy feedback.” It is this constant communication—this feedback—that will help fuel (and forge)—the path forward. As we continue to discuss the coming disruption that lies ahead, I ask Schaper if he has any particular quotes that he carries in his back pocket as he pioneers his way into the coming procurement frontier. It is no surprise to me when Schaper, a biologist by education, brings up the master of all things adaptation: Charles Darwin. “I will [often refer to] Charles Darwin in his famous book ‘The Origin of Species’: ‘It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt to and to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself.’”

Clearly, adaption appears to be the word of the day, and the days to come. I end our discussion by asking Schaper if he has any last pearls of wisdom for us all as we “get ready” for all that is to come. He must have sensed my silent cry for affirmation and wish for a shot of courage somehow, as he simply yet confidently urges me (and you) to take courage, resisting the urge to cower in the face of change—even if that change looks and feels like a roller coaster ride. “Don’t see the upcoming changes as a threat,” he says, before offering an alternative tactic, one requiring us to empower ourselves by stepping out of the passenger’s seat and stepping up to grab the steering wheel. “Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do, but look to which tools are best adopted to solve the challenges you face. Then test, experiment, get data and iterate!” I find myself emboldened by Schaper’s words. There is an authority to his demeanor, and raw truth to his advice, that both serve to allay many of my fears that were brought to the table today. Somehow, throughout the course of one single interview, many of my own trepidations and wild imaginings of the worst have been tamed, replaced by a newfound sense of direction amid the disruption. And as we move forward and heed the good doctor’s advice—boldly stepping into the driver’s seat to take charge and move out—I still suspect they’ll be heart palpitations and more than a few pairs of sweaty palms white-knuckling that steering wheel. And that’s okay; it’s all going to be.




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“Procurement Foundry is the fastest growing private procurement and sourcing parctitioner network in the world.” MICHAEL CADIEUX FOUNDER