Subjectivity and Supplier Engagement

Subjectivity and Supplier Engagement

Somewhere in that fascinating, and yet worryingly complex human mind a memory is stirred – of a taste, of a smell, of pain or happiness, and whatever it is, it’s controlling the way you understand the world around you and there is nothing you can do about it.

Everything you understand about the world is exactly that – what you understand about the world. Our own experiences affect the very way we view life.

Whether it be an event, a person, a building. Something you believe to be true, something you know to be beautiful, may not be to me. The only fact we can count on is that nothing is ever entirely objective.

That’s just how we are. And that’s the beauty of it. Or, the frustration of it. It depends, you see – like everything.

Scary, right? I don’t think so.

You wouldn’t want everyone to respond identically to the same picture or the same book. What kind of world would it be if we all thought the same thoughts?

It’s an Uncertain Business

In my day job as a Supplier Engagement Consultant – not the most common job title in the world, you’ll agree – I get asked all the time, “So, what is Supplier Engagement?” Every single time I think to myself, that’s a very good question. It depends.

Of course we have our own textbook definition at S4RB:
It is the level of commitment a supplier has to your brand, your values and your goals.
(Great! Problem solved.)

But, it gets me thinking, “It can’t be the same for everyone, right?…”, especially when you’re talking about something as intangible as commitment. It’s hard enough describing an object, something you can hold, something you can feel, in a way that everyone can identify with.

What might Supplier Engagement mean for you?

The standard definition of Supplier Engagement is just a jumping-off point, a springboard for something much bigger. The core idea that it’s good to foster meaningful, positive relationships with the people in your supply chain is a solid starting point.

However, the real fun begins when I start to look at what that might mean for each client I work with. They all have different aims, and a unique group of people to engage with. So, building Supplier Engagement looks a little different each time.

I’ve got a useful grab-bag of tools (communication, support, transparency), and plenty of experience of what has (and hasn’t!) worked in the past. But what really makes Supplier Engagement work is when you take those concepts, that experience, and apply them specifically to a context.

Supplier Engagement is not about ‘getting the most out of your suppliers’. It is about the quality of the retailer-supplier interaction. It is about suppliers wanting to give their utmost to a common goal, to mutual success, whether this is quality, innovation, compliance or beyond.

Supplier Engagement isn’t a formula or an off-the-shelf package. It’s what happens when you take the time to think about the people you work with, and what inspires them to care about what you care about.

If you ask me.

Alex Fitchett
alex.fitchett@s4rb.com

Alex is one of our Supplier Engagement Consultants. Responsible for planning and delivering bespoke software solutions and engagement campaigns to leading international retailers. An ‘interesting’ fact about Alex: He lived in Budapest, Hungary for almost a year 2013-2014, studying the industrial economics of the communist soviet bloc.

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