Dave was one of my first clients as a management consultant. He was in a rotational leadership program at the regional utility. He became the leader of procurement for the construction services category overnight – without any training or preparation. My job was to guide him through the procurement process to identify cost savings.

Dave was taking a risk. In this new role, he was going to be responsible for setting up the vendors and systems that his colleagues would have to use. He cared about the cost savings and he cared about delivering a good outcome for his trusted professional relationships.

I helped Dave by outlining the procurement process. We worked together to define what success looked like. We engaged the people that would be impacted – the line workers, warehouse managers, and vendors. And we got started, working together over ~4.5 months to implement.

Together we identified run-rate savings of $10-15M, exceeding our goals and successfully proving out project ROI (return on investment). The secret in transitioning from uncertain operator to confident leader, though, was in these three things:

  • We built capabilities to run the process successfully time and again.
  • Dave won the respect of his colleagues, in part because they were included from the start.
  • We discovered the power of a growth mindset: by envisioning the future state, and believing improvement was possible, the team improved its performance.