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Change, Risk & Integration

October 17, 2017

At the end of each IACCM conference, we like to summarize key themes. Today, I am featuring the observations of Sally Hughes, IACCM’s Chief Operating Officer.


Change is a constant enigma to us all.  While one executive presenter told us to embrace change, to “make change your best friend”, another observed that in reality change is reacted to by one of two things – complacency or terror!

We are all facing change – in our organisations, in technology, in the projects that we are managing – so don’t we all have a duty to react to change in a very different way – to focus on it as an opportunity?  And in the context of contracting, we need to design our contracts as an instrument for managing change.  Our organisations are demanding us all to be more agile, more adaptive; to remain relevant – we have to contribute to this agenda.


We heard a lot about risk throughout the conference. Again, I would like to quote the speaker who commented that risk is always owned by a customer in every case; customers can lend that risk or share it – but customers always own it.   So, we need to have the courage to talk about risk and focus on appropriate risk allocation, on risk management and risk mitigation – to focus on minimising risk.  It was noticeable how everyone ran out of the conference room following a presentation on GDPR, terrified of the potential impact of a regulatory fine – 4% of annual revenue.   But we seem to concern ourselves so much with what needs to go into the contract to protect us and not the practical solutions to avoid the risk becoming a reality in the first place!  It took on of our Leaders of the Future to observe – “…why are we so worried about 4% of annual revenue when it might not happen?  Why don’t we worry about the 9.2% value erosion that is already happening as a result of weaknesses in contracting…!”


My final theme came as a result of the output from the Great Debate.  The audience, by a very small margin, voted that procurement should become a sub-element of Contract Management.  However, I think the real output was in fact the need to focus on integration. And that brings me back full circle to our opening remarks on Wednesday where we talked about the inclusiveness and diversity of the IACCM Membership, one of the great strengths of IACCM.  The Chief Compliance Officer from 3M talked in her presentation about the “15% Culture”, the need to spend 15% of your working day focused on activities beyond your role because this is the source of innovation, of value. This is the thinking and the opportunity that IACCM provides  – extensive networks, the ability to outreach, a commitment to research – beyond your organisation, beyond your industry and beyond your geography – to gain those outsights.  So, don’t let this be the end – one of our Leaders of the Future talked about how she was excited to have found “applicable solutions” to challenges that she can take away from these three days.  That is the purpose of this conference, to give you tangible takeaways so that rather than just saying – “…it was an OK conference…” – you can say it was an “outstanding” conference and start putting into action the things that you have learnt when you get back to your desks on Monday morning. And key to that learning is to think and operate as integrators of ideas, approaches and people.

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