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Commercial Innovation …. or Inspiration?

August 10, 2020

Commercial innovation lies at the heart of human progress. It is through commercial innovation that we have created the conditions for successful invention, the framework for trade, the access to goods and services.

Innovation is clearly fundamental for any successful commercial and contracting practitioner. But we must accept that we are not all innovators; in most cases, the important point is that we encourage and welcome innovation, that we do not resist the benefits of change.

What about commercial inspiration? Where does that fit within the job role or personal characteristics of commercial professionals? The answer is that it has a massive role to play – never more so than in these testing times of worldwide uncertainty.

Inspiration is defined as ‘being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially something creative’. This implies a strong link to innovation, but they are quite different. Perhaps most important, while not every commercial practitioner can innovate, every one of us should aim to inspire.

Tackling barriers, grasping the opportunity

Back in 2018, IACCM undertook research with the support of behavioral psychologists. We identified that the most common characteristic among commercial staff – whether legal, procurement, contract or commercial management – was ‘preventism’. Essentially, that meant they saw their role and value primarily in terms of preventing bad things from happening.

Inspirational? I think not – and a direct consequence of this characteristic is that colleagues from elsewhere in the business frequently view commercial teams as people best avoided, as people who tend to come up with problems. Clearly, this has a massive impact on our influence and status.

COVID-19 has thrust many commercial groups to the forefront as they seek answers to the many challenges and issues that have arisen. Often, those answers are themselves inspired, or have perhaps proved inspirational to others. As we move forward, we must retain this ‘can-do’ spirit and ensure that commercial management continues to occupy the high ground. Today’s uncertainty and volatility is not going away. The need for more rapid and creative solutions remains essential for business survival – and, at a personal level, to career opportunity and growth. It matters little whether you are inspired, or whether you inspire others – the key is that there is inspiration and that it is associated with you!

IACCM’s TASK program – helping the commercial community to emerge from the pandemic and flourish in our altered world – continues with the topic ‘Inspiration in the face of change’. Join us – and be inspired!


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