What Would Paddington And Harry Potter Do?

Posted 23/02/2015

If the evidence is right, and procurement don’t have a natural bias for creativity our challenge is how to generate that much needed creative mind set. Firstly, being clear on why we need to be creative is key - Is it to identify new opportunities for value delivery or to solve problems in existing sourcing scenarios? 

Having established the motivation, the task becomes to 'Be Creative' and there is nothing more likely to constrain creativity than to demand it! Creativity is rarely found through doing what we’ve always done or are used to doing, or to be stimulated by sitting at a desk with an excel spreadsheet open and simply a desire to type up a list of ideas. A different environment, new behaviours and new ways of thinking are all essential. So taking oneself off to a museum to solve a problem may just be all we need. The issue is our mind will come with us and if it’s not used to thinking differently a museum may not help. It might need a little more assistance.

This is where role play can be powerful as  a technique for putting normal thinking to one side and thinking/doing things differently.

Asking ourselves, What would a different person do in this situation? can stimulate different trains (and aeroplanes!) of thought. Multiplying role play scenarios, multiplies the potential number of ideas and solutions. There will be time to judge and evaluate these ideas later – this is a creative process - where no idea is a bad idea.

There’s an infinite number of people we could role play – mentors/coaches/super stars/rock legends/TV characters  and even family, friends or neighbours. We could even ponder on what our car, dog or even car would do in the current situation! Don’t mock it till you’ve tried it. 

The type of role play I’d like to consider today is characters from books – let’s see how we get on if we consider a common problem procurement problem – we don’t have enough time to do everything – and explore what each character has to offer: 

  • Rhett Butler –Gone with the Wind – “I don’t give a damn” – yep stopping worrying about it would help
  • Harry Potter – has a wand to accomplish some of the mundane tasks or uses Dobby the house elf – since we don’t have a wand delegation might be a better idea
  • Arthur Dent – Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – the answer to the universe is 42 – not much help but he also can’t go back to earth as it’s been demolished – look forward not backwards
  • Jean Luc Picard – Star Trek Next Generation – “Make it so” - set a clear direction, speed, activities and roles and responsibilities. It could also suggest we talk to our captain to determine the priorities
  • Winnie the pooh – would eat honey – sometimes having time out is a good idea to reduce the stress and all that constant doing
  • Tigger – Winnie the Pooh – would just bounce his way through his to-do list and enjoy every moment of it
  • Paddington – I don’t know enough about Paddington to know what he’d do – same as Winnie I suspect but with Marmalade sandwiches
  • Charlie Bucket – of chocolate factory fame – do what he’s told and be a good boy – don’t whine about it and just get on with it

Of course, I wonder if this says more about my reading habits than anything – so happy for other suggestions in comments below. A great reminder though that metaphor is very personal so I’ve seen the solution that best fits my current situation. On another day or with a different issue I might interpret it differently. You may notice therefore that you observed different meaning from this same list of characters. 

Do let us know how you get on and what characters or people helped you find more solutions to a situation you were working on.

For more on the procurement training and coaching we deliver, including thinking differently, see here or call Anna on +44 (0)1483 243520+44 (0)1483 243520

Tagged by topic: Category Management , Learning and Development , Procurement Transformation

  by Alison Smith

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