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Purchasing Intelligence Function

Percieved World Around.pngDo you make decisions based on how the world around really looks like, or based on how you perceive the world around, i.e. based on what you actually know about it?

How do you help the buyers in your purchasing community to become smarter and stronger in negotiations?

Answer: Build a function for Purchasing Market Intelligence!

This is what some buying managers say about their company’s Purchasing Market Intelligence (PMI) function:

“By keeping track of the market factors which influences my business, generally and specifically, I will become more aware of real costs and excited to secure my future competitiveness.”

“By using PMI among my other key information sources, I avoid so called “information overflow” and keep my purchasing market monitoring simple and focused, supporting good decisions.”

“By knowing what is affecting my prices and how much we should really pay for a certain product, I will as a purchaser enter the negotiation table more equipped with hard facts and confidence.”

Purchasing Market Intelligence builds on the same principles as Competitive Intelligence, that is more common in the field of Market Strategy and Sales. It’s all about identification of the company’s (procurement department’s) information needs, gathering the desired information, analyzing it and valorize it into intelligence, and spreading it to those persons who need the information.

CI cycle

In other words, the process of Purchasing Market Intelligence can be explained through below steps:

  1. Identify what the company needs to know
  2. Gather information about the business environment
  3. Use internal and external info sources
  4. Select and compile key information
  5. Analyze – build up knowledge
  6. Spread intelligence to decision makers
  7. Decide and act smartly!

The objective of PMI is well illustrated through Michael Porter’s 5-forces industry analysis. PMI strengthens the buying company’s power toward the suppliers. Se below:

Increase Buying PowerThe scope of the intelligence work is defined in the very beginning of the process. The information need of the company can be shown is below “Intelligence Map”. Now, the challenge will be to find the optimal sources to be utilized for continuous tracking of these factors in the world around. Optionally, a business analyst will manage the coordination of the PMI process, and add value to the information through his/her analysis and spreading of the information to the right persons in the right time.

Intelligence Map

Read all about Purchasing Market Intelligence in the pdf-presentation. Installing a smart function for PMI is easier and less costly than you think. You don’t even need a full-time employee for managing the function and the continuous tracking system. Invest in your procurement human capital! Become a more intelligence sourcing team! Establish a function for tracking and analysis of the factors in the world around that impact the company’s sourcing activity.

pdficon_largeDownload the complete 50-slides presentation about Purchasing Market Intelligence, containing two real business cases. Click on the PDF-icon or here.

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Supplier Relationship Assessment brings you a tool for assessment of supplier relationship types, called ASRT – Assessment of Supplier Relationship Types. You may use the tool on all your suppliers, assessing appropriate relationship type for each. The assessment tool can be applied on a limited number of key suppliers (i.e. your top 10), in order to determine the absolute top 1-2 suppliers with whom you will embark on an SRM program journey together – read all about this in the SRM 4-Step Process.

Managing suppliers is part of your job as buying manager, and you might be not quite sure what you should do with each different one. You also don’t have enough time to manage relationships with all of them. So, how can you find out which suppliers to devote more time to, to get best results? Make sure you bet on the right horses – use the ASRT tool. The tool is Excel-based, and the summary sheet is shown in below image:

Supplier Assessment Summary 2

The summary sheet displays the results from the assessment and input done by the responsible buyer. There are totally 10 criteria, or evaluation parameters, building on the MOISTER tool that is explained in the SRM 4-Step Process. Five of the criteria are grouped as “Business Value Criteria”, and the other five under “Mutual Match Criteria”. The two groups form the X- and Y-axis in the chart above.

The ASRT-tool will automatically calculate all the input values and display recommended relationship type with the assessed supplier! Accordingly, you have now done your assessment of the supplier relationship. By applying the tool on all your suppliers, you are coming through the entire supplier segmentation (phase 1 in the SRM 4-Step Process), and you may swiftly proceed with formulation of your supplier strategy and start planning and executing your sourcing activities together with your suppliers.

Below is an example of assessment of one criteria , Supplier View of Buying Company, that belongs to the “Mutual Match Criteria” (Y-axis). The question on the top shall be answered by giving a value between 1 to 5. Extensive supporting information for the analysis and scoring is provided below the question. There is one Excel work sheet for each criteria. Work yourself through the ten criteria, and your relationship assessment of the supplier is done.

Supplier Assessment Input 2

Expand your professional toolbox today with ASRT – Assessment of Supplier Relationship Types! The analysis supported by this Excel-tool provides a relevant, detailed and solid basis for your decision on supplier strategy.

pdficon_largeDownload in PDF-format a complete guide to the ASRT tool. Click here or on the pdf-icon.

Do you want the ASRT-tool in Excel-format, so you can start working with it? If so, contact us via email by using the EMAIL US form.

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Procurement in the future

 Trend toward more SRM

Procurement in Future

Research in the USA indicates that future trends relating to Purchasing and Supply Chain Management will include more focus on collaborative Supplier Relationship Management among other, such as:

  • An increase in the strategic importance of the Procurement function within companies
  • Leading organizations will establish strategic purchasing competence centers with highly trained, cross-functional personnel responsible for achieving competitive advantage in collaboration with their chosen supply chain partners
  • Tactical purchasing activities, such as ordering in expediting, will increasingly be automated and selected low-value, non-critical, standard commodity purchases are likely to be outsourced to full-service providers
  • Strategic alliances with suppliers will increase
  • Organizations in the same supply chain will increasingly share resources, including intellectual properties information, people and other assets
  • Global supplier development will be critical to global penetration
  • There will be an increasing emphasis on win-win negotiation
  • While the price paid will be an important measure of purchasing performance, this will be considered as part of the overall contribution of PSM to profit
  • Environmental factors will become increasingly important to purchasing considerations
  • The Internet will be the main vehicle for electronic purchasing, which increasingly will be used for purchasing transactions and also be the key to globalization
  • Personnel employed in PSM will require a higher level of training, including that in leadership and influence skills

Source: Purchasing and Supply Chain Management, Lysons and Farrington (2006)


Increasing need for two-brains buyers

Two-brain buyer

Integrating right-brain talent is imperative for winning procurement teams. Buying managers need to develop SRM skillsets beyond traditional procurement skills, in order to: 

  • engage on supplier energy
  • lead cross-functional teams
  • embed communication and change management into the process
  • deeper and more durable value creation to identify new opportunities

Companies that take SRM seriously, determined to capture supplier value and build profitable relationships, must make sure having the right people on the right supplier relationships. The buying responsibility of the most strategic partner suppliers, cannot only be assigned to the most senior and mature buyers – the relationship managers for those critical suppliers need to be equipped with strong right-brain capacity.

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Supplier Development Plan

We share with you here a very useful example on a Supplier Development Plan. The document is done in MS Powerpoint format, with some embedded tables created in Excel. You will; need to read the presentation in the SRM 4-Step Process in order to understand all aspects of this particular SRM program documentation.

The Supplier Development Plan exemplified here consists of 9 Powerpoint slides:

  1. Supplier Passport – (or Supplier Profile) summarizing information of the supplier
  2. Agreed objectives – KPI targets and tracker
  3. Projects – list of agreed prioritized actions for business improvements, used as tracker
  4. Key Account Teams – overview of all resources involved in the relationship
  5. Contact Data – detailed information about all persons in the teams above
  6. Meeting Organizer – calendar with proactively agreed meetings and dates
  7. Agreed Conditions – special agreements beyond the legal contract
  8. Production Capabilities – detailed overview of the supplier’s capacities and competencies
  9. Objectives of the SRM program – optional appendix (careful sharing with supplier)

It’s up to you to add more pages or use less than in the example. You may also consider to use another format for your SRM program documentation, using MS Word, please see Supplier Business Plan – Example here.

pdficon_largeDownload the Supplier Development Plan in PDF-format (click on the icon to the left).


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Supplier Pool Matrix

Editor’s note:

I built the Supplier Pool Matrix as a practical tool when just starting a new assignment as regional category manager. I needed to understand the current supplier situation and to establish a plan for spend concentration and SRM programs aligned with the company’s business needs. Moreover, as a regional procurement team, we needed to have one agenda driving in same direction without colliding initiatives concerning the supplier strategy. At a first glance, the Supplier Pool Matrix looks like a simple table only with some supplier names stated. It’s so much more than that! In fact, this little table became the most important document and working tool in the entire procurement category team. Read more, and you will understand why.

Make your own Supplier Pool Matrix. Look at the illustration below, and simply follow the guide.

Supplier Pool Matrix 2

Decide on your specific X- and Y-axes

The first thing you need to do is to divide your category (spend scope) into relevant “spend pockets”. In above example, the X-axis is sub-categories (i.e. applications, technologies, industries) ) and the Y-axis geographical clusters (i.e. countries, group of countries, regions). A certain sub-category and a specific geographical cluster becomes a “spend pocket”. Each spend pocket will have its own pool of suppliers, hence the name “Supplier Pool Matrix”. You will need to spend a good amount of thinking power before deciding on your X- and Y-axes, as your entire sourcing strategy and supplier management activities will be organized based on the structure of the Supplier Pool Matrix.

Populate the table with your supplier data

Insert all suppliers in your category (spend scope) in the table, using MS Excel. After each supplier name, state the annual spend with the supplier (i.e. the spend value with the supplier within the specific spend pocket) as well as the relationship type. The sum of the spend of all suppliers should correspond to your total spend value of the sub-category in the geographical cluster. Are you not familiar with the relationship types? You may learn all about supplier relationship types in the SRM 4-Step Process. Structure the suppliers within each spend pocket with the most preferred suppliers of that spend pocket on the top and the least preferred suppliers in the bottom.

The key supplier(s) on the top of each spend pocket (normally with growing spend) are marked green, while suppliers subject to upcoming discontinuation are marked red. The suppliers with white background, or in the middle of the supplier pool, are not fully defined. Their destiny may be decided by next RFQ/bidding, becoming either green or red, or remaining white and in the middle. This color coding makes the Supplier Pool Matrix a very powerful internal communication tool – going forward it becomes crystal clear what suppliers are selected as preferred/growing and what suppliers are in exit plan.

The Supplier Pool Matrix needs to be updated – and COMMUNICATED – regularly, and immediately after RFQ’s when business allocations to suppliers are agreed and internally approved.

Use the Supplier Pool Matrix as Risk Assessment Tool

Risk assessments can be done in many different ways. The Supplier Pool Matrix is quite a good tool for assessing supply risks, when used supplementary to more detailed risk evaluation methods. Note the vertical bars in green/red/amber color on the right side of each spend pocket. You simply evaluate the supply risk by considering the amount of players in the supplier pool, both incumbent and potential suppliers. Also the magnitude of the  impact for the business from an eventual supply disruption may be taken into consideration.

Red risk (level 3) means that qualification of new supply sources for a spend pocket will be included among your sourcing strategy actions. Green risk (level 1) tells you that the supply risk is very low. If the amount of incumbent suppliers is high there is an opportunity to reduce the suppliers in the supplier pool. Be strategic in your supplier reduction efforts (if that is a priority for your company), and reduce most suppliers in the green spend pockets, while being very careful in reducing suppliers in amber (level 2) spend pockets.

Analyze your supplier portfolio through the Supplier Pool Matrix

Have a closer look at the suppliers in the illustration. What does the category manager actually need to do in this case? What actions should be among the prioritized in the sourcing strategy plan?

  1. There are currently two Partner suppliers in the region, Deltacom and Giller. These suppliers are the most strategic suppliers for the buying company managed through SRM programs. Supplier Betos is a Collaborative supplier, supplying in several geographical clusters and being potential supplier in some spend pockets. Betos could be candidate for an enhanced relationship and SRM program, making three Partner suppliers totally in the spend scope
  2. Sub-category C is generally lacking supplier options. We need to understand the reasons for that. Could it be the product/service specifications in that sub-category that limits the choices on the supplier market? The category manager needs to deeply analyze this situation and eventually agree with R&D and Marketing to simplify the specifications. That will open the door for more suppliers to enter that sub-category
  3. Geographical cluster 4 has overall too many suppliers. Here is the largest opportunity for supplier reduction. A competitive bidding should be conducted, and business allocations given to fewer suppliers than today’s situation
  4. Despite the fact the Deltacom is a trusted Partner supplier, the category manager may need to build an alternative supplier for Sub-category B in Cluster 2 (sole supplier situation)
  5. In Cluster 5, something has gone wrong with supplier Lurcom. This was a key supplier until recently, and the category team has concluded that discontinuation of this supplier is the only way forward. As a result, swift qualification of alternative suppliers (i.e. potentially incumbent Regarded, Collaborative or Partner suppliers) is required for sub-categories B, C and E

Have you found any other relevant action needed, on top of the 5 above?

Well, that’s basically it about the Supplier Pool Matrix.

By doing above steps, you should by now have  a great tool to strategically track and manage your supplier portfolio. Please read as well the related post on Smart Supplier Database. Ensure that you keep your supplier strategy documentation well updated. Communicate it frequently and hammer your clear and winning messages  into the minds of your team members, collaborators and stakeholders.

pdficon_large Download the Supplier Pool Matrix in PDF-format here, with better visual quality than above image (click on the pdf icon).

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Smart Supplier Database

How do you keep track of your suppliers in a smart and efficient way?

Solution: Create a smart library with detailed information about your major suppliers, so-called “Supplier Passportsor “Supplier Profiles”, as well as a summary and comprehensive list of the most necessary information on each provider. Keep these together in one place, preferably on an intranet platform easy accessible for all co-workers who need the information.

Supplier Passport

Make an updated one-pager on each supplier. Should you have a very large number of suppliers, you may limit the Supplier Passports to cover the suppliers corresponding to 80% of the spend (the 80/20 rule), or to cover only Collaborative and Partner suppliers. A Supplier Passport (or Supplier Profile), could look like below example:

Supplier Passport

The Supplier Passport is a great way to keep updated key information on your suppliers, such as;

  • short company description (turnover, production sites, global HQ location, etc)
  • production capabilities (this could be very detailed with relevant capabilities list with checked tick boxes)
  • business with buying company (relationship since what year, mutual spend/turnover shares, contract details, payment- and inco terms, etc)
  • other (known) customers the supplier is serving, i.e. including competitors to the buying company
  • key account manager and contact information

Above is only examples what you may cover on the Supplier Passport one-pager. We call it “passport” as it should contain short and important information about the supplier that define the company making it a unique piece of information. Keep it updated at least once per year.

Depending on the complexity, it may seem like an exhausting task to create Supplier Passports for the suppliers in your spend scope or category. However, if you are a team, split the work among all buyers in the purchasing team. If you have an assigned “relationship manager” for each supplier, this is the person who should create the Supplier Passport for the supplier and keep it updated. Once created, the work on updating the one-pagers is a quick activity, and you will have a fantastic source of information on your suppliers. This one-slider is used in the Supplier Development Plan (as front page) with those suppliers with whom you will run collaborative and relationship enhancing SRM programs. Read more about that in the SRM 4-Step Process.

Supplier list with key information

Without a comprehensive list of your suppliers that contains key facts on each player, you will have endless work on gathering data for your own needs or to serve others in the company. Have ONE LIST, ensure it contains the information you (and your colleagues) need and update it regularly. This will bring order to your widespread data and save you time once you need it. Such supplier list may have following appearance:

Supplier List

You may find out from this list the following information on each supplier:

  • Size of the spend with the supplier
  • Share of category spend
  • Relationship type (read more about this in the SRM 4-Step Process)
  • Lead country (relevant if your spend scope is regional or global)
  • Contract expiry date
  • Agreed conditions, whatever is relevant for the buying company (for example annual price reductions or contractual clause on Value Creation or Continuous Improvements)
  • Payment terms, Incoterms
  • Lead contact – name of the buyer who is relationship manager for the supplier

Rather than having several supplier lists, our recommendation is to add relevant columns and stick to only one supplier list. You may work with this list to show your spend concentration plan, by for example highlighting the supplier name cells in different color (red for “exit planned”, green for “growing supplier”, and so on). Just be creative with this list and make it the one-and-only list of the suppliers in your spend scope. If you have different categories for all your suppliers, either insert a column stating “category”, or make different sections of the table that keep the suppliers in different categories separated from each other.

You may give your Smart Supplier Database a brand name of your choice that you sell in to colleagues and stakeholders. Refer to the supplier database by its given name with a link to where its accessible. Make people used to find it and capture the information they need by themselves. You will be perceived as a good house-keeper, and you will save time! You may also save money through a Smart Supplier Database. Agreed conditions with suppliers might get lost due to organizational changes or details of conditions in past agreements may simply be forgotten. By keeping details and key information included in the supplier list, you will manage your spend flawlessly without such human mistakes.

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Supplier Business Plan

Editor’s note:

This is an example of how you can make use of a business plan (or development plan) with your key suppliers. The business plan is created in MS Word and requires about three pages. Read more about supplier business plan in the SRM 4-Step Process

I have used this very format in my collaboration with several suppliers. The benefit of using Word-format is basically that you have all information collected in one place and it’s easily readable in one flow. It’s fast to update and makes a great tool for communication to internal stakeholders as well as to the persons closely involved in the SRM program with the supplier.

Content of page 1:

Time period covered (agreed) is stated in the headline and when the common document was latest updated. General information about the supplier and the company’s capabilities are followed by a list of persons from both companies who are extensively involved in the relationship. The page ends with a short update of the supplier’s industry situation. Image of page 1 below:


Content of page 2:

List of key trends (technology/customer needs/etc) of the market that is relevant for both the supplier and the buying company. In relation to the industry situation and market trends, you should list the competitive advantages of the supplier. The analysis of the suppliers’ competitiveness goes deeper through the 6 competitive questions (invented by GE / Jack Welsh). Below each point, state 1-3 points. The idea is to consider these relevant points when setting the action plan that will make “your and your supplier’s common supply-chain more competitive, beating competing supply-chains” (i.e. be better than your competitors and their suppliers). Image of page 2 below:


Content of page 3:

This page is the heart of the Business Plan, with a list of all KPI’s or Targets that are agreed between your buying company and the supplier. In this case, the plan reaches 3 years into the future, but you may choose another time horizon, for example 5 years, depending on your industry situation and business needs. The table is used as tracking tool and historical performance is stated (preferably compared to the agreed targets in order to see eventual gaps to targets). Please read the SRM 4-Step process  in order to learn more about target setting and measuring supplier performance. The most important part of the document is the Action Plan – here you list all activities and projects that are ongoing or should be implemented by the supplier (or executed jointly by the supplier and the buying company). The list of prioritized actions are used as tracker tool and should be updated and communicated after each business/projects review meeting. The last piece of the Business Plan is alignment with stakeholders and top management. Tick the boxes when you have got their acknowledgement of the documentation of the established SRM program. Image of page 3 below:


pdficon_large  You may download the whole business plan in PDF-format (click on the icon to the left).

See also the Supplier Development Plan (SRM program documentation using Powerpoint format).

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Risk Heat Map

Posts on Risk Management will be created in first half of 2015.

In the meantime, a great tool is using Heat Map where you may evaluate suppliers or categories.

Do your analysis, plot the suppliers or categories in appropriate position on the map. Explain your critical risks (red, yellow) how you will mitigate the risk – actions that are integral part of your Sourcing Strategy road map.

Risk Management Heat Map


Conflict as Learning Source

Conflict is desirable from a teaming learning point of view. In fact conflict is inevitable in teams because teams, by definition are made of members with complementary skills and roles. Members with complementary roles are going to perceive situations from different angles. This is positive, but only if the differences are discussed in an open and positive way.

Research has shown that harmonious teams are not as effective as teams which confront, and learn through, conflict. Harmonious teams will often avoid unpleasant situations; problems will be ignored. Therefore the efficiency of the team is reduced. Only by confronting issues will a team learn. In fact according to the FIRO theory teams can not advance to efficient levels of operation without first confronting issues of control (conflict) in the team.

This does not mean the handling conflict is easy. As the Relationship Awareness Theory states, when I am in conflict I am affected by an inner stress or tension. To protect myself, I change behaviour. How I behave will depend on the stage of development of the group, and on the level of my personal development. I may become quite and withdrawn (passive aggressive), I may become openly aggressive, or I may be able to exchange my feelings with other members of the team.

Regardless of the outlet of my discomfort it is important to try to exchange feelings and learn from the conflict.


Warranted and Unwarranted Conflict

The Relationship Awareness Theory recognises that there are two types of conflict, warranted conflict and unwarranted conflict.

Warranted conflict occurs when the people involved do not agree on the desired outcome. For example, in a budget debate one person may think that investing a portion of money in savings for the future needs is the only reasonable action while the other person believes that that same portion of money should be spent on equipment to improve operations. There is sincere disagreement about the goals.

Unwarranted conflict is frequently the result of people’s behaviour being misunderstood or misinterpreted. Literature and research on the subject indicates that the majority of conflict is unwarranted.

Experience suggests that unwarranted conflict can be substantially reduced as individual grow in their self-awareness, grow in their understand of others, and are able to express their feelings.

There are a number of strategies which may be used to resolve conflicts: accommodation, competition, avoidance, compromise and collaboration. In a team where long term relationships are important, the success of the team depends on the co-operation of all of the members, and the team wishes to learn. The only strategy to adopt is collaboration. That is win/ win! If the team is not able to reach a consensus decision (that is a decision all members agree to follow) the chance of the success of the decision, or of the team learning from the conflict, are small.

Using an open communication style, as discussed previously under team circles, is an effective way of ensuring all teams members have the opportunity to express their opinions. The best solution is reached because number of different options are explored. A mutually agreeable decision is reached, and the group continues to operate and learn on an efficient level.

Timed Talk

If two members are in conflict, Timed Talk [1] may be an appropriate strategy to resolve the conflict. The essence of Timed Talk, as with team circles and thinking partnerships, is giving an each party the opportunity to express their opinions while the other party listens attentively.


  • each person has three minutes to talk without interruption, while the other listens attentively
  • use a timer or watch
  • take as many turns as necessary to resolve the issue
  • do not interrupt each other or take over each other’s turn, no matter what
  • if you don’t need all of the time in one turn, save it for your next turn
  • stop talking the instant 3 minutes is up

Do theses things if you can:

  • keep eye contact with the other person when they are speaking
  • focus on finding a good idea, not on winning
  • remember that there is an idea neither of you has yet thought of that will resolve the problem better than you can imagine
  • breathe out

if time runs out before you find a mutually good idea, schedule a time soon to continue.

[1] Developed by Nancy Kline, Time to Think

Open Communication

The success or effectiveness of a team is directly related to the quality of the team’s communication. The quality of the team’s communication is directly related to the quality of the individual members thinking and their willingness/ opportunity to share their ideas.

That is, if you are given the opportunity to think clearly and you are willing to share ideas, your team will be very successful.

Open Communication

If you have a reasonable level of self-awareness and good self-esteem, you will not feel threatened (consciously or unconsciously) discussing difficult ideas. You will not feel uncomfortable in being open and sharing your thoughts. That is, if you have strong self-esteem you are willing to share your ideas.

We are going to look at how we can create an environment to think, and the opportunity to share ideas.


The quality of everything we do depends on the thinking we do first. The quality of our thinking depends on how other people treat us, that is the quality of their attention. So by giving you my undivided attention I am in effect encouraging your thinking and I am giving you the opportunity to share your ideas.

Our success depends on the quality of our thinking!

Team circles simply involve giving everyone a turn to think and share. By doing this we raise the intelligence of the group by increasing the quality of the members thinking and sharing.

When I give you my full and undivided attention I am saying: you matter, your ideas are interesting, you are worthwhile.   I am also giving you room and encourage to think.

What am I assuming if I interrupt you? I can help you by thinking for you, my ideas are better than yours, to be professional I need to give answers, if I don’t interrupt I will never have a turn, I know what you are going to say, I am more important than you, interrupting will save time.

We also need to ask ourselves: do we really listen or do we finish sentences, moan, fill in phases, look at watches, sign , frown, tap fingers, give advice…

If your team becomes a thinking team, you will grow to understand each other, deal with conflict effectively, be creative, and have a great time.

Everyone has something to offer, team circles are a good way of ensuring everyone has the opportunity to share their thoughts. If this does not happen the quality of the groups decisions and action will suffer.

Each activity in a group has two sides:

Content – what is discussed, the tasks that have to be solved.

Process – how the discussion is conducted, how the group solves the tasks and the feelings experienced.

In the majority of cases how the decision is reached is of considerable importance to later work. If a significant minority see themselves as losers, the next stage in the process can be adversely affected. If conflict in the group are not solved by the time the decision has been taken, or if the discussion has been wound up too quickly, the group’s work will not be as efficient as it might have been.

If the decision making process has gone well, in other words everyone has a had an opportunity to contribute their views, and consequently has felt a part of the process, the efficiency of the group will be very much greater.


The 10 components of thinking team circles

  1. Attention – listening with respect, interest & fascination. Don’t confuse silence with not thinking!
  2. Asking incisive questions – removing assumptions that limit ideas. A question works because unlike a statement which requires you to obey, a question require you to think. You may ask: “what might we be assuming here that is limiting our thinking in this issue?”
  3. Equality – treating each other as thinking peers; giving equal turns and attention, keeping agreements & boundaries.
  4. Appreciation.
  5. Ease – offer freedom from rush and urgency.
  6. Encourage – moving beyond competition.
  7. Feelings – allowing sufficient emotional release to restore thinking.
  8. Honesty and openness. Let’s quickly discuss what this means: If we agree truth is an objective assessment of a situation. And we agree honesty is expressing how I feel, my understanding, my thinking about a situation. Then in communication, and with ourselves, it is most effective to all be honest while allowing for the possibility we do not know the truth. Only you know if your are being honest, but remember: people are only boring when they are not honest.
  9. Place – creating a physical environment that says back to people: “you matter”.
  10. Diversity – adding quality because of the differences between us.

Running Team Circles

  1. Before the meeting, decide on the agenda., and communicate to those concerned; or ask others what they would like to discuss, prepare the agenda and communicate it.
  2. Go around the circle and give everyone a turn to: answer a positive question prepared before the course, or to say something that is going well at work, in life …. This brings everyone minds in to the room, and starts positive thinking.
  3. Go around the circle and give everyone a turn to comment on the first point on the agenda. give everyone attention without interruption during open and even fiery discussion. ask incisive questions to reveal and remove assumptions that limiting ideas thereby freeing the mind to think a fresh. divide into pairs when the thinking stalls and give each person five minutes to think out loud without interruption. go around the circle every now and then to give everyone a turn to say what they think. everyone should be honest and should share information.
  4. At the end ask everyone what they thought went well in the meeting (this ensures a positive finish regardless of how heated the conversation became).
  5. If you would like, ask everyone to say something they appreciate to the person on their left (people do not normally hear anything positive about themselves, however appreciation builds esteem which frees thinking).Follow the same procedure for a brain storming session.

Other things to remember:

  • when going around the circle everyone has the right to pass.
  • knowing you will have your turn improves the quality of your listening
  • the mind works best in the presence of reality, so make sure you have access to accurate and up-to-date information.
  • for meetings, if possible arrange chairs in a circle, without tables. This way there are no barriers between everyone, and everyone can see everyone else. If you need to use tables, make sure you sit in a circle so everyone can see everyone else.

Question: doesn’t this take a long time?

An astronaut was once asked: “in 10 seconds your spaceship will explode, what will you do?” The astronaut answered: “I would think for 9 seconds, and then act”.

Taking time to think saves time!

What takes a long time is acting without thinking because the action often needs to be repeated in the right way, mistakes are made, and the best ideas aren’t used. Also knowing you won’t be interrupted frees you to think faster and say less.