Be Careful What You Wish For With Maverick Spend

Posted 21/11/2017

Caroline Myss, one of my favourite authors, tells us “each word is a universe”, or perhaps easier to get our head around “words have power”.

That is, every word we use has power to help us find a solution, or to keep us firmly stuck in a ground hog day-esque “not this again” cycle.

Every word also has the power to put up the barriers to those who can help us achieve our objectives, or bridge the gap to working effectively together towards a common goal.

Whilst delivering category management workshops over the last few months I’ve noticed a number of words procurement use that, unless we’re careful, can certainly make our life harder not easier. 

Here’s three of my favourites:


What words come to mind when you read the word maverick ?

Resistant? Unhelpful? Awkward? Rebel?

Not helpful words I’d suggest if I’ve labelled an internal stakeholder as being a maverick, because the word will inform my behaviour towards the stakeholder. It’s not too easy I suspect to be open, honest and receptive to someone we think is going to start a rebellion any minute now!

I was surprised therefore, when I looked at the definition of maverick, as it describes people who were unorthodox or independently minded.

What words come to mind when you read the word independent?

Confident? Assured? Knows their own mind?

Words I contend that illicit a different behaviour towards those very same stakeholders we were earlier labelling as maverick?

Next time you label someone as maverick you may want to replace it with independent and notice what you notice. It might just open some doors that were previously very resistantly closed.


“I’m just going to tell them what to do” said one delegate.

What’s your reaction if anyone wants to tell you what to do?

Unfortunately, I can’t print my reaction here, but it’s very similar to my reaction to the word maverick – resistant, closed, unhelpful etc.

After a standing in their shoes exercise one delegate on a workshop recently committed to ‘asking’ the stakeholders for their support, input, compliance rather than telling them.

If you’re a little too quick to ‘tell’ others what to do, try asking them instead and notice what you notice.


Us isn’t in and of itself an issue. The pattern I’ve observed however, is when the us includes procurement and excludes the rest of the business. It’s procurement’s category strategy not the business’s strategy. We, Procurement, have made the decision – not the business altogether.

One to watch out for, as it’s something that’s easy to use and easy to exclude the very person who feels it’s their strategy and their decision. 

What words do you notice that have power to generate a less than helpful response from others? Or are there any words that push your buttons and bring out an unintended and negative response for you? Please do leave comments below so that we may all become more aware of the unintentional impact we might be having in our communication. 

Do please get in touch if you’d like to explore how Future Purchasing could help you improve, or just become more aware, of your use and application of your communication and influencing skills.

Contact Alison Smith on 07770 538159 or or get in touch via the website if you’d like to hear more.

Tagged by topic: Business & Stakeholder Engagement , Category Management , Learning and Development

  by Alison Smith

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