China Sourcing: Defining the Mission
February 20, 2017
Do you ask your China sourcing team to get things done but you are not getting the results you expected? Do you assign tasks only to be disappointed – nearly every time? Maybe you set 4 major goals to be fulfilled by the end of the month, but only 2 got completed? If this kind of thing happens often, the problem may be that the mission you communicated to your China sourcing team is not specific or clear enough.
The inspiration for this post comes from a recent conversation I had with a colleague about challenges he was facing with his China sourcing team. He vented about a bunch of issues that he’s facing concerning his China buying program. I asked him to clarify and be more specific about the problems and he basically repeated everything that he said before.
It occurred to me that if he spoke to his China sourcing team the same way he spoke to me, there is a good chance his message would not be getting across. I offered him two words of advice: Be specific.
When you are communicating with your China sourcing team, you must be specific and define the mission clearly if you want anything to get done.
Communication is very important (I briefly touched on this in my 5-part blog series: (Are You Leaving Money On the Table? Part 2 – Trading Companies) especially when setting goals. Defining with clarity and precision the mission for your China sourcing team is crucial. Sure, it takes a bit of time to prepare, think through and articulate, but it pays off in a big way.
So how do we do this effectively? The good news is that anyone can do it, it does not take special skills. The process can be summarized in 3 points:
- Recognize the need. (i.e. Don’t assume people know what you mean, or can somehow read your thoughts, this is especially unwise when you deal with people of different cultures.)
- Present the mission clearly and concisely. (“What is well conceived can be clearly stated and the words to say it flow with ease.” Boileau.) I recommend listing key points in order of priority and using a “bullet point” format. Your presentation should include the objectives of the mission as well as the reason for it and the description should be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. and Timely).
- Be interactive with your sourcing team. Ask for feedback and comments, solicit better ideas to execute and seek confirmation of timing etc., this way you will be sure they are on your wave length.
There may be many milestones required to complete the mission. There may be multiple moving parts and more than one member of your China sourcing team might be involved to help bring it to fruition. All these elements must be clear.
The New England Patriots (who recently won Super Bowl 52 – again) is a prime example of an organization that is good at defining and communicating a mission.
Head coach Bill Belichick famous words: “DO YOUR JOB!” combined with a clear understanding of each player’s mission, what they are supposed to be doing, and how. The results speak for themselves. Every year, no matter who is in the line up, they manage to turn the team into fierce competitors on a championship level.
Is your China team responsive to your missions? What approach do you use to communicate your China sourcing missions? Do you have a set of best practices for this? Share them with us in the comments below.
By Guerschom Francois