Remove the 5 key roadblocks to global retail investment programs

By | Business Complexity, Culture, Customer Experience, Distributed Teams, Leadership, Marketing Procurement, Point of Purchase, Retail Fixtures, Shopper Marketing, Supply Chain | No Comments

In Marketing one of the hardest things to achieve is consistency of brand execution across multiple markets. This is especially true when the presentation of your brand in physical retail outlets is a very important part of your marketing mix.

The role of Marketing is to emotionally connect your brand with the customer. From one country to another, customer needs and expectations will vary. Combining this with different cultures, beliefs, language, etc. it is clear that brand engagement needs to be customised. Then add the different retail landscapes into the mix and the level of complexity changes again.

This creates the so called “perfect storm” for local markets to go their own way and shun any attempts by the global brand teams to establish a coordinated and synergistic approach to retail investment. Does this sound familiar?

“The three rules of marketing; everyone has an opinion, every opinion is different and every opinion is right”

So what are the main barriers facing global and regional teams who are trying to implement regional programs and how do you overcome them? Here are the five main roadblocks, that we are sure you will have heard of before:

1.The centre doesn’t understand my market

Regional retail investment programs often fail before they are started. The reason is that not enough data and corresponding insights have been gathered to ensure there is a clear understanding of the differing retail environments that are to be invested in. It is imperative therefore that this weakness is addressed. Consider undertaking retail outlet assessments and using augmented reality tools to test how certain concepts may work across markets.

“Collective wisdom will always outshine individual judgement. This has never been truer than in shopper marketing.”

2.”This program won’t work in my market”

The challenge is that the focus for the program ends up on the materials being designed. Each market looks at the materials being proposed in context of their own retail landscape and this is when they see issues. The focus needs to be switched to desired outcomes. The objective is all about delivering the most compelling and immersive experience possible to the customer to influence purchase behaviour. Develop a Purchase Decision Journey that connects every touch point into a consistent retail experience for key outlet types. If everyone can become aligned around the journey and the desired outcomes, then gaining commitment to the regional program is so much easier.

3.”There is no ability to customise the materials”

In many cases, materials are designed without a clear definition of their exact role from the customer’s perspective. This also impacts the way they are deployed. In addition, materials are often looked at in isolation of each other. Establish a retail investment kit for each specific outlet type. Build in customisation so that materials can be “flexed” to deliver a specific customer experience that meets specific brand, product or outlet objectives. This will remove the need for many local markets to have unique alterations.

4.”I can source it cheaper”

Invariably, when this position is put forward, it is more often than not a comparison of apples and oranges. The materials being compared are not to the same specification.

For an objective like-for-like assessment to be undertaken of the various potential sources of supply, there is a need for accurate and full availability of technical specifications. If a full technical specification is not available, then this claim has absolutely no validation.

5.”I need to buy locally”

Having a local source of supply is usually put forward for two reasons; lower cost and speed of response. Once you have full technical specifications you need to engage with a supplier who can provide full flexibility on supply. A supplier who can provide a supply chain model that meets the local market needs and can be adapted as requirements change. You need a supplier who can arrange offshore production (for lowest cost), local manufacture or a combination of the two.

“For a regional retail investment program to succeed, you need to switch the focus from the materials being developed to the customer experiences that you wish to deliver.”

So in summary, the format for running regional retail investment programs has to be fundamentally adapted to include the following 5 key criteria:

  1. Market insights on the differing retail environments
  2. A clear and aligned Purchase Decision Journey for each outlet type
  3. Customisable retail outlet investment kits
  4. Detailed technical specifications for every item
  5. A flexible supply model that can support offshore and local sourcing

By following these principles, many of the challenges of implementing regional or even global retail investment programs can be removed.

If you would like more information on how LeanPie can transform your shopper experience supply chain, please feel free to contact David at

Procurement – switch your focus from sourcing to supply chain management

By | Business Complexity, Culture, Data Analytics, Leadership, Lean Manufacturing, Lean Thinking, Marketing Procurement, Productivity, Supply Chain | No Comments

I have worked in marketing for more years than I care to remember. The one key observation I have regarding this discipline is that it continues to expand in breadth whilst at the same time growing in complexity. This is clearly a challenge for marketers but, in addition, it also provides a whole new set of challenges to the procurement teams who are tasked will helping marketing make their investments go further.

I am also a cofounder of several start-ups, that have been developed to help marketing procurement leaders address this complexity and unlock hidden value. BUT to be honest I mostly find myself facing a wall of silence. However, there are some young, highly talented individuals who seek knowledge at every opportunity, embrace change, address risk and add exceptional value to a business. So, this is my way of sharing the attributes of these unsung heroes.

As Arthur C. Clarke once said:
The Information Age offers much to mankind, and I would like to think that we will rise to the challenges it presents. But it is vital to remember that information — in the sense of raw data — is not knowledge, that knowledge is not wisdom, and that wisdom is not foresight. But information is the first essential step to these.”

Procurement thinking
The real challenge is that Procurement focuses too much on margin reduction rather than removing waste from the supply chain. The first approach reduces the margin and profit of the supplier thereby negatively impacting them whilst the second can benefit all parties.

The challenge, if you negotiate or even bully a supplier to give you a lower price, is that several things happen; you become less important to them, you don’t gain access to their best people, they take their innovations elsewhere and ultimately, they deliver their best service to their more rewarding clients. However, the biggest negative is that they don’t see the relationship as a partnership of equals and you lose access to very valuable information. Information that is essential to remove waste and to deliver real value to the business.

Lean Thinking
Very simply Procurement needs to embrace Lean Thinking. To achieve this, you need to understand every element of the supply chain and this requires partnership with all the stakeholders. By understanding every step in a supply chain, you are then enabled and empowered to identify areas that don’t add value and to remove them.

So, how important is this? Well, Mark Pritchard certainly thinks it is. Look at what he says about the “media supply chain”. Even Mark Ritson throws more fuel on the media supply chain fire. What is interesting is that the same theme comes through from two of the most influential and experienced marketers globally; to deliver value you must have information, transparency and standards. To be honest this is not just an issue with digital advertising, it transgresses all areas of marketing spend.

 “Good procurement practice is negotiating a better price but great procurement practice is removing waste from the supply chain.”

Like-for-like comparison
It is not just standards but it is the ability to compare one element with another in an objective way. This requires the marketing procurement team to confirm that it is indeed comparing like-for-like. If comparison is not possible, how can you achieve an objective judgement?

“If you are not comparing oranges and oranges when running a marketing tender of any sort, then you are participating in an exercise in pure futility.”

Dissect the supply chain
Due to the complexity of many of the materials and services used by marketing, it is inevitable that the supplier you are working with is outsourcing huge elements of the programme. If you don’t know how the supply chain works or who is involved, how can you have any chance of identifying where savings can be made?

Spend time to get to know how the supply chain works, what the steps are, who are the responsible parties, who adds value and who doesn’t. Once you have a clear picture, identifying and adding value becomes relatively easy.

Focus on the detail
Adapting the well-known saying:
“Look after the marketing pennies and the marketing pounds will take care of themselves.”

This is very true and it is often the small details that can unravel a supply chain and cause untold problems. Identify these blockers and develop solutions which are specifically designed to remove them.

Invest in Flow
Flow is a key component of a Lean Manufacturing supply chain and it is where one task is completed and the project is moved onto the next task. Invariably marketing supply chains break down at these points. An obvious example is where Marketing have spent so long working on and approving creative, that production only has days to deliver the required materials leading to excessive overtime costs.

Gain control over the supply chain flow and these problems can be removed along with all the extra costs associated with short production lead-times or other shortfalls.

 “In a marketing relay race, it is not how fast you run that counts but how well you pass the baton.”

Take out waste
What do I mean by waste? Well very simply it is any cost that does not directly or indirectly contribute any value to the final solution. There are many ways you can identify waste. Here are a few examples:

  • Teams spending too long in meetings where limited actions are taken (resource waste)
  • Solution goes through multiple changes (duplication waste)
  • Delays happen due to late or delayed approvals (process waste)
  • Use of third parties that are just passing information from one party to another but not impacting the final solution (layer waste)
  • Too many solutions are created (production waste)
  • The wrong solutions are delivered (planning waste)

“Focus on looking for marketing waste and you will find it everywhere. Change your mind-set and transform the marketing procurement function.”

Achieving success
This is a hard one and I do not envy the challenge that many of these very capable marketing procurement professionals face in trying to deliver additional value to the business. However, you must adopt a mind-set where you seek to become the most informed individual in the supply chain. By achieving this, you will be able to focus on removing waste and in so doing, to gain the commitment, support and data that you need from all stakeholders, both internal and external, to establish a lean supply chain that is subject to continuous improvement.

So, the next time an email arrives or the phone rings, consider this. Is this an opportunity to gain further data, insights and knowledge? To succeed, you need to be open to learning something new every day, so embrace every opportunity to network, find those hidden areas and unlock that additional value.

If you would like more information on how LG&P and LeanPie can transform your shopper marketing supply chain, please feel free to contact David at

Ditch mediocrity and transform supply chains in 2017

By | Business Complexity, Culture, Leadership, Lean Manufacturing, Lean Thinking, Marketing Procurement, Point of Purchase, Productivity, Retail Fixtures, Shopper Marketing, Supply Chain | No Comments


It is that time of year where a significant number of articles are written about the key trends that will be happening in the year ahead. I don’t know about you but I find that businesses don’t really pay any attention to these types of predictions and it takes forever for companies to adapt to market changes. There are only ever a few individuals who are willing to take a risk and actually set out to make a real difference to their business by implementing real change.

So this is for you, the mavericks, the pioneers and the risk-takers who won’t accept the status quo and where the word “mediocre” is consigned to the dustbin.

I am specifically going to focus on non-core supply chains. So here is my list of predictions for 2017. To be honest, it is more a wish list than a set of trends, but in my mind the individuals and teams who follow these principles will add significant value to their companies and transform how supply chains are managed.

1.SaaS (Software As A Service) will become Software And Services

Many people see software as a means to fix broken processes in companies but this is just not the case. Software is an enabler. It provides organisations with the opportunity to be more efficient about how they manage part of their business BUT it cannot fix underlying problems where processes are broken or skills are deficient. The challenge with supply chains is that they are complex, multi-disciplinary and require every element to function efficiently. If they don’t and one element is broken then the supply chain falls over. This is why TCO (Total Cost of Ownerhip) was introduced to ensure that there is responsibility defined for the entirety of the process.

In many cases, organisations don’t have the depth of experience and skills to ensure that a supply chain operates in the way it should and so they rely on suppliers to fill in the gaps. The end result is that these suppliers act in their own best interests rather than putting the customer first. This has created an opportunity for a new type of software company that not only provides software but wraps services around it in a highly transparent way that addresses these market shortfalls. Supply chain leaders need to embrace these new types of organisation and transform their supply chains.

2.Networkers will become the leaders

I have to say my biggest bugbear is when individuals within large organisations create barriers to information flow. They never respond to a communication, their phones are automatically directed to voicemail and worst of all they say they’ve passed on your details to colleagues who will get back to you if they need to. So how likely is it that these people have conveyed the opportunity successfully? I doubt if they even understand what the opportunity is.

The individuals who will prosper in this new networked economy will be those people that “Pay it Forward” and seek to help people both internally and externally connect. Too many people believe that an organisation comprises employees only. This is just not the case. The success of any organisation depends on all stakeholders; employees, partners, suppliers and most of all customers. Everyone has a contribution to make to the success of the company and their voices must be heard. So, if someone calls, set aside 5 minutes and take the call. You will never know what you can learn and what opportunities might await.

3.Transparency will be the No1 priority

There is a lot of focus on analysing data but the question I always ask is do you have the data you need? In so many supply chains there is little to no real transparency. You may have prices but you don’t know what the true costs are from your suppliers. It is like the iceberg, you only see a small part of the puzzle. It is imperative that supply chains are opened up and every element and every cost is transparent, so a real understanding develops of what all the cost drivers are from start to finish.

Strive for transparency but do this with the principle that transparency will help create additional value that can be shared. If you see transparency just as a means of reducing margins, with no other end result, you will promote and encourage the lack of information sharing that you face today.

4.Real-time updates will take precedence over historical reporting

The vast majority of company reporting has been focused on historical reporting. The problem for procurement and for supply chains is that this information comes too late to address any issues that have arisen or to create additional value. The problem with complex supply chains is that if an issue is not addressed immediately then the problem only gets worse. How often have you received that call from the supplier that your shipment will be three weeks late? Clearly a problem like that did not happen overnight.

It is imperative that real-time data becomes a priority. This should take precedence over any other form of reporting. Remember if you can’t influence the outcome then the data and subsequent analysis has limited merit.

5.Procurement will switch from margin reduction focus to removal of waste

Lean manufacturing principles have transformed a number of industries and functions, but procurement have been slow on the uptake to adopt these principles. Procurement’s main focus has to be to obtain the best possible price and this in general has always been focused on reducing the margin taken by the supplier e.g. negotiating the final delivered price. This needs to change. Procurement need to take ownership of the process and to switch their focus to finding ways to remove waste, where resources (people, time and money) do not contribute to the final outcome. This requires leaders to look internally as well as externally.

Consider this: A one hour meeting attended by seven people is the equivalent of one Full Time Employee. Also consider how long it takes to get anything done. Perhaps your diary is so booked that you are not able to see a supplier for 6 weeks. Well that is 6 weeks of potential opportunity to add value back to the business that has been lost. It doesn’t take long to identify significant opportunities to dramatically reduce waste in this way and to add real value back to the business.

How many of these principles will you be supporting next year?

If you would like more information on how LeanPie can transform your retail fixture and permanent POP supply chain, please feel free to contact David at

Undervalue decision-making at your peril

By | Business Complexity, Culture, Distributed Teams, Leadership, Marketing Procurement, Productivity, Shopper Marketing, Supply Chain | One Comment


When the topic of decision-making comes up, it is often a debate on how does one make the right decisions, rather than the wrong ones. However, this focus completely undermines the fact that for a decision to be of any value it has to be implemented successfully.

Decision-making in corporations is complex and fundamentally if the process is not conducted in the right way there can be severe repercussions for the potential value that is created. The most obvious issues include:

  • Lack of participation leading to substantial delays in reaching a decision
  • Lack of ownership in the decision leading to a lack of team engagement and productivity
  • Lack of commitment in implementing a decision leading to fragmentation, misalignment and poorer outcomes

So how does one go about establishing the right conditions for team decision-making to be optimal? I believe consideration should be focused on the following areas:

  1. Establish team working
  2. Understand the objective
  3. Identify the challenges
  4. Build insights
  5. Consider all options
  6. Ensure alignment on identified solution
  7. Test and validate to build confidence and commitment
  8. Focus and implement


Leading a team requires key leadership skills and it is very important to establish clarity on how the decision-making process will be conducted. Different nationalities have different ways of reaching decisions and this can be quite alarming when it is not familiar. It is also essential that the approach to decision-making is highly democratic in respect that everyone has a voice, every voice is equal and every voice is listened to. Here is a link to another blog titled “Procurement and the challenge of distributed teams” that provides some considerations for creating a high performance team.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” Michael Jordan, Retired American Professional Basketball Player


The most usual case is that members of the team may have different objectives or different perspectives on the same objectives, so you need to start with a clear Core Purpose. Once the end goal (destination) is set it becomes easier to develop and agree on a strategy to get there. It is the outcome that is important, rather than the process by which that outcome is reached.


Define the problems, challenges and barriers to success. Be honest. Once you have identified these, you will be able to ignore distractions and focus on working to resolve and overcome the identified impediments. Identifying and addressing primary constraints are the single biggest reason why change does not happen and why team initiatives do not succeed.

“A problem well-defined is a problem half solved.” John Dewey


The better informed the team, the easier it will be to remove subjectivity and to make insightful decisions. There are generally three rules in business when it comes to decision-making, in an environment when goals are not clear and information is scant at best:

  1. Everyone has an opinion
  2. Every opinion if different
  3. Every opinion is right

Very simply the more insightful the debate, the easier it is to reach agreement.

“Collective Wisdom outshines individual judgment.” Vineet Nayar, Author Employees First, Customers Second


Consider all points of view and recommendations. The approach needs to be inclusive to promote and encourage all team members to fully participate. The best way forward often comes from the most unexpected source. Each recommendation should be treated equally and with respect.


It is crucial that each individual team member is engaged and that their agreement is provided. I have been in corporations where I attended a presentation and as I did not question the position, my silence was taken as tacit agreement. This is not acceptable. Everyone needs to voice their full agreement in an open and collaborative way.

“My opinion, my conviction, gains immensely in strength and sureness the minute a second mind has adopted it.” Novalis (1772 – 1801), German Author and Philosopher


Risk and the fear of failure can motivate some team members to withdraw their full agreement. This needs to be addressed and the best way to do this is to test the agreed hypothesis and to work through this to create validated learnings. This not only ensures you have found the best solution but it further motivates commitment, builds confidence and ensures the entire team’s full focus and support is provided.


When a team is participating in a single programme, it is likely that all team members will have differing priorities and tasks so it is important that roles and responsibilities are well-defined. In addition, having made a decision, there is no value in questioning the decision. The best possible decision has been made and the team should focus on implementing it to the best of their ability. It may turn out that a better decision could have been made, but you will never know until you act.

“When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellency becomes a reality.”  Joe Paterno (1926 – ), American College Football Coach

Decision-making is often an integral part of a change management programme and therefore another useful guide for this is Growth River’s Seven Principles for Team Effectiveness:

  1. Inspired by purpose (well-defined clear goal or desired outcome)
  2. Focused on a shared journey (detailed process for achievement)
  3. Accountable and collaborative mindset
  4. Right skills in the right roles
  5. Strong and clear interdependencies, reinforcing team agreements
  6. Advocating strategies from a customer value perspective
  7. Laser focused on implementation that resolves primary constraints for the highest impact and return on investment (ROI)

The process of effective decision-making lies at the heart of why many companies find it challenging to run successful pan-regional programmes. This is especially true in complex areas like shopper marketing where very different retail landscapes are coupled with consumers with different needs, expectations, languages and cultures. In these cases, it is imperative that a clear and intentional process is created that will guide decision-making for all stakeholders in a fair, equitable and clear way.

Procurement and the challenge of distributed teams

By | Business Complexity, Culture, Distributed Teams, Leadership, Marketing Procurement | No Comments

workplace 1200

Procurement has to work in a complex, matrix environment. In many cases they will need to engage with colleagues in different functions, different offices, different countries and often different time zones. This distributed structure brings significant challenges. There is not only distance created by physical location but there is also distance in levels of alignment, engagement and degree of cooperation.

For a procurement leader to be successful they have to develop people skills that enable them to lessen the impact of distance and to be able to create highly collaborative team working.

The following provides some insights and recommendations as to how a team leader can overcome the lack of co-location in order to build a highly productive team.

Align to the core purpose

  • Convey, share and build understanding for the company’s core purpose
  • Direct team energy towards business unit and corporate goals
  • Demonstrate how the team’s work supports the overall company strategy
  • Share executive dashboards
  • Regularly review company performance and key priorities

Ensure team balance

  • Create a culture based on a “team of one”
  • Leader to show support for all teams equally, irrespective of role, location or other factors
  • Mitigate any power bias by ensuring that all parties are able and willing to contribute fully, irrespective of other factors
  • Identify and share the key behaviors that you would like everyone to adopt

Get to know everyone

  • Understand cultural and ethical differences of all team members by talking openly about their individual beliefs
  • Be culturally sensitive
  • Encourage informal interactions between colleagues and discussions on non-work related matters so people can get to know each other

Build personal relationships

  • Build personal relationships (not just work relationships) with colleagues
  • Meet informally and spontaneously to foster friendship
  • Celebrate birthdays etc.

Engage frequently

  • Ensure frequent engagement but avoid being disruptive
  • Set aside a core hour per day, where there are no formal meetings, to encourage spontaneous interactions
  • Convey how individual and team contributions matter
  • Involve team in important strategic decisions

Find unstructured moments

  • Encourage people to have unstructured moments where they can talk about things away from work
  • Build in these moments to formal meetings
  • Encourage people to share constraints and to ask questions on items that are not directly related to the meeting

Encourage feedback

  • Encourage feedback, especially in regard to routine communications and interactions to make sure current approach works for everyone
  • Use videoconferencing to help promote more transparency and openness
  • Help build awareness on how the team works and how the various parties are seen by each other

Promote diversity of views

  • Encourage different viewpoints about the team’s tasks and also about the process by which the tasks get done
  • Frame these meetings as brainstorming meetings so people are happier to contribute diverse ideas
  • Use the 5 Why’s questioning to get to the heart of the matter
  • Solicit each team member’s views on each topic often starting with those who have the least status or experience

Use language wisely

  • When speaking, acknowledge and respect the language fluency of others
  • Seek confirmation that you have been understood
  • Summarize by rephrasing others’ statements for further clarification or emphasis
  • Monitor the frequency of less fluent speakers to ensure that they are contributing
  • Ensure less fluent speakers ask for confirmation on what they have conveyed and to also notify the speaker when they have not understood something

Support inclusion and diversity

  • Keep track of who isn’t and who is contributing
  • Actively encourage the dominant team members to engage the others for their input

Continuously learn

  • Ask a lot of questions before drawing conclusions
  • Probe to ascertain any potential challenges or needs for additional resources
  • Use questions and answers as a means of building strong two-way engagements between team members
  • By positioning yourself as someone who seek to learn, you will empower and motivate other team members to contribute more
  • When everyone is a teacher and a learner, team members will take on more responsibility for the development of the team as a whole
  • Leaders need to focus on facilitation rather than instruction

Focus on team outcomes

  • Build a culture that is committed to reaching a group consensus
  • No one way is right, allow the team to find its own way

Share information and reinforce messages

  • Follow-up meetings with a summary of agreed actions
  • Meeting summary helps reinforce acceptance of ideas and can be used for gaining written endorsement when required
  • Meeting organizers should communicate through multiple platforms to ensure that meeting outcomes are understood and acted upon

Lead by example

  • Team members will follow the leader’s example in using communication technology
  • Team leaders should adopt a flexible approach that has a strong appreciation for diversity of ideas

Consider type of engagement

  • Use teleconferencing and videoconferencing to enable real-time (instant) conversations
  • Videoconferencing enables rich communication in which both context and emotion can be perceived
  • Consider time zones when considering how to engage, so there is limited disruption to team members personal lives
  • Only use delayed communication like E‑mail when other members are unavailable. In general, evidence suggests that most companies over rely on delayed communication. A recent Forrester survey of nearly 10,000 information workers in 17 countries showed that 94% of employees report using e‑mail, but only 33% ever participate in desktop videoconferencing with a mere 25% use room-based videoconferencing

Leaders that understand and can overcome the impact that a distributed structure has on team working will dramatically increase the contribution that they can make to the business. This is even more significant for Procurement Leaders where the level of spend under control has a direct correlation with the ability to create value.

MARKETING PROCUREMENT; How to master complexity without getting complicated 

By | Business Complexity, Culture, Leadership, Lean Thinking, Marketing Procurement, Productivity, Supply Chain | 7 Comments


Complexity is all around us. We not only see this in our personal lives but we feel it even more in our business lives, especially if you work in marketing. Marketing is a great example of how the business world has changed. There are now more ways to engage with customers than ever before and this seems to change on an almost daily basis. Just in the last week, the arrival of Pokemon Go has provided another means by which brands can effectively engage and interact with customers.

The challenge with complexity is how to deal with it. Most businesses respond by either adding more structure and processes or they try and force people to work in a certain way through off-sites and team events. The reality is that both approaches try and force a way of working on the individual that usually restricts their ability to operate in an optimal way. The individual ends up spending more time managing the complexity and their workload rather than actually doing the work and delivering value.

The Boston Consulting Group have created a great guide to helps teams overcome the complexity challenge. They call this “Smart Simplicity” and they have published a book called Six Simple Rules on this very subject. In addition, they have distilled the highlights into an eBook which you can access here.

The six rules are highlighted here:

  1. Understand what your people do 
  2. Reinforce integrators 
  3. Increase the total quantity of power 
  4. Make cooperation happen 
  5. Extend the shadow of the future 
  6. Reward those that cooperate 

I would like to take this opportunity to apply these to a marketing procurement team. In this way, I would like to provide some recommendations on how one might be able to overcome complexity, and the resulting resistance that ensues, to deliver sustainable value.

1.Understand what your people do

First of all, know what outcome marketing are trying to achieve. Then find out what is happening in the process to achieve this. Investigate the supply chain end-to-end and identify what resources are at work and where there are constraints or issues. Map this out and look at ways to remove waste and increase the flow from one stage of the supply chain to another. In this way outcomes will naturally be improved as the supply chain is more optimal and everyone benefits from the additional value created.

2.Reinforce integrators

This is about achieving cooperation. Cooperation is different from collaboration. Cooperation is helping others achieve their goals whereas collaboration is where a groups of individuals work together to achieve a collective team goal. This is all about finding a common area of value and aligning everyone to achieving it. You need to find a way to make your goals relevant to the goals of your colleagues.

3.Increase the total quantity of power

If you wish to help increase the ability of your colleagues to create more value, then arm them with the data and insights to make better decisions. This intelligence not only comes from analytics but also from the experience of others. Help colleagues become better informed through “Network Intelligence” by giving them the information they need when they need it but by also connecting them with others who can add expert advice, perspectives and recommendations.

4.Make cooperation happen

Create an environment where marketing rely on procurement for certain tasks etc. The first task, once you have gained control over the end to end supply chain, is to ensure clear definition of roles so overlaps are removed and interdependencies are created. Then look at the decision points and agree on how these will be handled so there is collective ownership on how the entire supply chain is managed. This way everyone has skin in the game and some ownership in the final outcome, not just part of the process.

5.Extend the shadow of the future

Establish a culture of continuous learning. Make sure that performance is evaluated and that validated learnings are captured and applied to all subsequent activities. This becomes more dynamic, when everyone is invested in the outcomes, so make sure everyone is involved up to the point of final delivery. In addition, by taking this approach, when issues do arise these need to be resolved as a team. This way, everyone is exposed to and has a responsibility to resolve them.

6.Reward those that cooperate

Agreeing desired outcomes upfront is clearly paramount but it is making sure that everyone is recognised for achievement against those that really stimulates cooperation. In other words, reward and recognise marketing for making costs savings at the same time that procurement is rewarded and recognised for delivering better outcomes.

I hope this provides some food for thought. We know that business is challenging and becoming ever more complex. That is why, at LeanPie, our mantra is to strive for simplicity, without adversely impacting the value of the outcome. As Albert Einstein once said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Please feel free to contact me directly at

Productivity is the real goal

By | Culture, Productivity, Supply Chain | One Comment


After ten years marketing for software companies, I made the decision to change course and to join LeanPie, a company that is setting out to transform the supply chain for the sourcing of retail fixtures and Point of Purchase equipment. When I mentioned this to a colleague, she immediately assumed I was going to focus on delivering a software solution rather than focusing on the actual manufacture of hardware items like shelving and gondola end units. When I explained the vision for LeanPie, she was surprised. So why the move?

What is interesting about software is that it is, in general, an enabler. It helps us achieve the same things but cheaper, to a higher quality and faster. However, recent evidence is proving that business has not been very efficient at applying and using all the advantages that software can provide to improve commercial productivity. A recent article by Neil Irwin in the New York Times provides an interesting perspective on what is happening in his article “Why Is Productivity So Weak? Three Theories

Another perspective is provided by Yves Morieux, of the Boston Consulting Group, who presented this fantastic Ted talk called “How too many rules at work keep you from getting things done.” I really like the way that he uses the example of a 400m relay team as to me this is a great metaphor for how a supply chain works.

The reality is that the real value of software is in how it is applied to transform a business rather than in its potential. This is where my real interest lies, in being able to use a great software solution to significantly change the way that an existing market works. This takes the combination of well thought-through processes combined with very skilled and talented people and then enabled with a great software solution. This sits at the heart of what LeanPie is setting out to achieve and in very simple terms, it is about enhancing the productivity for the sourcing of non-core materials.

Every day we will place productivity at the forefront of our agenda and through this we hope we will improve the productivity for the companies and suppliers we serve so everyone across the supply chain from substrate suppliers to customers will benefit.

Why LeanPie will be virtual from day one

By | Culture, Leadership | No Comments

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When creating a new company there are many elements to consider. One of these is where to situate the office. Having a place where the team can come together can provide benefits but it also brings with it a series of key disadvantages. The most obvious one is cost, but actually there are a host of other restrictions that an office can have on a business, which is why companies are now transitioning to virtual working.

Businesses that embrace a more virtual approach to team organisation can better position themselves for competitive advantage. This is achieved as, being a virtual company, it provides you with far more flexibility in the decisions you make in regards to talent, business strategies and deployment of funds.

The reality is that virtual teams are becoming a necessity in the global marketplace.  As such, it is companies that are virtual by design who are better equipped to address the challenge of team members who are not co-located and who will ultimately prevail. Academic studies have shown that companies who have successfully established a virtual team model have seen a reduction in operating costs, hired the best available talent, increased team productivity, are more flexible to changing customer needs, have a greater capacity for expansion and benefit from higher levels of diversity in skills and experience.

Now, coming back to the cost factor, it is not just the running costs that can put a drain on the company but you also need to consider the time and effort that is involved as well. This includes all the set-up, legal issues, maintenance etc. of the office facility but also more importantly the time that is spent by the team in commuting daily to a physical location just so everyone can be together in one place. These are costs that end up being passed onto the customer.

It is for these reasons that LeanPie has decided to become a virtual company from day one. Yes, we are not going to invest in costly office space that our customers have to pay for. We believe having a costly office infrastructure in every market you do business in is an old fashioned approach and we simply don’t see why the customer has to be burdened with this. Clearly some may say that LeanPie doesn’t have an office as they just don’t have the funds, but this is fundamentally not the case.

Our core purpose is to transform the supply chain for non-core materials such as Retail Fixtures and Point of Purchase (POP) materials. We are going to achieve this by learning from companies like Toyota. They created the Toyota Production System, based on Lean principles, and as a result they transformed their industry. We are setting out to do the same and so Lean sits at the heart of everything we do. The fundamental principle of Lean philosophy is to make obvious what adds value by reducing everything else. We put offices in this category.

So you may ask, how are you going to ensure team cohesion? Very simple, we have adopted the very best and most innovative software to overcome any issues that the team may face in not sitting next to each other. We have established “Sococo” as our digital workplace and in many ways this allows us to be even more productive, a fact that has been backed up by many studies looking at collaborative working.

What is there NOT TO LOVE? Our customers benefit from working with a more productive team that also doesn’t pass on non-value added costs like office buildings.

We look forward to talking to you soon, either virtually or at a location of your choice.