Gymnastics — The way to go for agile purchasing departments!

agile, purchasing, procurement department, gymnastic
March 19th, 2019
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At the most recent Procurement breakfast series, an event organised by Determine, purchasing professionals came together to discuss how procurement organisations can be agile. And to kick off the discussions, participants watched a video—which has since gone viral—showing the gymnast Katelyn Ohashi at a university competition in Seattle, performing the floor routine that achieved her a perfect 10 score. Based on the gymnast's routine, participants came up with four key elements of an agile procurement organisation:

1. Innovation

It wasn't just her technical skills that was impressive, but also her innovative approach to the sport: the original musical mash-up she performed to, the expression on her face, her contemporary moves etc. She did not just achieve a perfect score, she also shook up university gymnastic standards.

An agile procurement organisation must follow the same approach: going off the beaten track to try new solutions, processes and technologies and building a culture of innovation. Against this backdrop, mistakes aren't seen as something negative, and people will be willing to test out new ideas.

2. Flexibility

Needless to say, Ohashi showed incredible flexibility throughout her routine. Not only that, she did it with a smile on her face—and that made all the difference!

By their very definition, agile organisations must be able to adapt, understand, and change direction etc.—and to do this quickly to meet to ever-changing needs. And, just like Katelyn Ohashi and her smile, an agile procurement organisation must be flexible and stay positive, by maximising potential and taking full advantage of situations.

3. Collaboration

Shortly after the video went viral, Ohashi said in an interview: "my teammates and my coaches have all allowed me to step into my individuality, and not be defined by just being a gymnast".

The same can be said for purchasing departments that have the ability to persuade the broader ecosystem work towards a common objective. Whether it be with departments, managers, or suppliers etc., collaboration is key to fostering innovation, mitigating risks, improving performance and meeting the needs of stakeholders more effectively.

4. Anticipation

Gymnasts need to constantly be thinking ahead and ready for the next stage in their routine. Whatever the acrobatic trick, they always get back into position, ready to execute the next move.

Anticipation is also a key characteristic of experienced purchasing departments. To be successful and proactive, they must have in-depth knowledge of their suppliers, trends and the needs of their users.


So what do you think? What other characteristics are essential to an agile purchasing department?