This month marks three years since I had the good fortune of taking over as CEO of SIG. These three years have been filled with both blessings and challenges. During this period, we faced a worldwide economic crisis, a recession unlike any since the Great Depression, and a daunting future for membership organizations. Now businesses are slowly recovering, unemployment is no longer rising and SIG’s membership and services are growing exponentially. SIG persevered through unimaginably difficult circumstances. I credit this to being blessed with a team that owned our situation and found ways to grow in spite of it.
I’ve recently been reading "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese and was reminded of a folktale about Abu Kassem, a Baghdad merchant who could not rid himself of his battered slippers. The moral of the story as relayed in "Cutting for Stone" was that happiness and success can be found by owning your slippers…owning who you are…owning your output…owning the talents you have and those you lack. Not only our actions but also our omissions, become our destiny.
The SIG team owned our situation. We knew we had to innovate or risk failure. We knew we had one chance to emerge from the recession triumphantly—we had to passionately own our shortcomings and finesse them until they became our strengths. By starting with a blank sheet of paper, we created a new and improved SIG. Our team is bigger, our events are more abundant, our offerings are greater, our membership is growing, and our Summits are richer and more widely attended by senior executives from offices ranging from CPOs to CIOs to CFOs.
At the Fall Leadership Summit, I heard how many of our members have owned their own situations and risen above them through innovation, which many say has become the definition of "next practice". No longer is writing in the margins and issuing change orders enough for people to say they are successful—they must make wholesale change to thrive. This message was reinforced at the Aberdeen CPO Conference, where I heard Dennis Omanoff, McAfee’s SVP, WorldWide Supply Chain, Procurement, Travel and Corporate Real Estate, talk about how he challenges his team and his supplier partners to innovate. Likewise, I was inspired by Ruben Taborda, CPO, Medical Device and Diagnostics and VP of Supplier Diversity, Johnson & Johnson, who discussed how he feels it is his personal responsibility for the Office of the CPO to drive revenue generation through innovation.
I am invigorated to hear the words "we are", not "we need to" in conversation about the goals being set for today’s sourcing professionals. I am excited to see the Offices of the CIO, CPO, CFO and BPO beginning to have conversations about how they can work together to drive innovation and change. And I am humbled to be leading an organization that we now hear regularly has become the defining organization for sourcing and outsourcing professionals. As you think about what innovation means to you, I encourage you to consider this quote from Abraham Verghese, "Leave no part of your instrument unexplored. Why settle for 'Three Blind Mice' when you can play (Bach’s) 'Gloria'?"