During the past 3 years purchasing teams have been consumed with Urgent firefighting tasks requiring immediate attention. At the same time, we changed how we work going from in-the-office to work-from-home and then back to the office or a hybrid of the two.
These factors have taken the focus away from Important activities like employee training and commodity strategy development and execution.
During World War II, then leader of allied forces Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) was faced with a constant deluge of Urgent issues while needing to achieve Important milestones. He defined Urgent and Important as follows1:
- “Important” activities have an outcome that leads to us achieving our goals, whether these are professional or personal.
- “Urgent” activities demand immediate attention, and are usually associated with achieving someone else’s goals. They are often the ones we concentrate on and they demand attention because the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.”
Being an organized, military person, he then began segregating his activities into a two-by-two matrix (those of you who attend our training know I love 2by2 matrices):
The IKE process to do the Urgent and Important and schedule a time for the Important but not Urgent. The issue for those of us in purchasing is that for the past 3+ years there has been a constant influx of Urgent and Important that has overwhelmed calendars keeping many from scheduling and completing Important but not so urgent items like:
- Commodity management strategies that align our suppliers and internal functional areas with our CEO’s vision for the company.
- Employee development that improves our results and help us retain employees while building negotiation and commodity management skills and knowledge in our teams.
If this is your situation, I suggest you drop down to the lower two on the matrix:
Are there tasks you can immediately eliminate? Meetings you can and should opt out of? Reports no longer necessary?
Are delegating what can be delegated? If you are at a buyer level, what can you get your suppliers to do?
The good news is that we are seeing folks getting back the Important but not Urgent items. Hopefully this is a trend that has grown in 2022.
Learn more about our Commodity Management Program that teaches commodity strategy and development: