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Seeing Excellence: Learning from Great Procurement Teams

Dan Heath and Chip Heath's great book, Made to Stick, coined the term "story spotting" as the process of using stories to make learning concepts vivid.  In 2010, I started interviewing procurement and other government teams to find examples of applied project, performance, and quality management tools and practices. 

Seeing Excellence: Learning From Great Procurement Teams showcases those teams and their stories.  To see how to get the book, visit

I have continued to write and speak about the back-story of procurement team achievements.  The following are session titles and descriptions of Seeing Excellence presentations to various state procurement conferences and national associations and their affiliates.  The home page shows my presentations and publications that use and supplement stories in Seeing Excellence.


Seeing Excellence: Learning from Great Procurement Teams (Keynote)

Description: Teams are the lifeblood of organizations.  Procurement is part of their circulatory system.  Hardly anything we accomplish in procurement doesn’t involve collaborationoften by team members having no formal, supervisory relationships.  The author of Seeing Excellence spent three years researching and writing about 10 team disciplines of great procurement teams and five essential behaviors in effective team leadership. Attendees practice at least one: using the art of the question to share insights about promoting team engagement.

Seeing Excellence in Procurement Teams: Laboratories of Leadership (Keynote)

Teams are the lifeblood of organizations and laboratories for developing leaders. From a procurement process improvement team creating tools for better project management, to school procurement professionals' use of mentoring for professional development, the study of teams is a path to developing leadership potential. Learn from the stories how outstanding teams portray essential team disciplines and principles of effective team leadership.

The Art of the Question (Keynote)

Among the disciplines that make teams and their leaders successful is using questions effectively. Like the purpose of teams, the effective use of questions is a thread weaving its way through Seeing Excellence. From continuous improvement to team dynamics, systems thinking to change management, project management to decision-making, good questions are key to learning and a common theme. Join us in this interactive session to explore how to be a more effective team member and lateral leader by practicing the art of the question.

Knowledge to Practice and Beyond: Learning from Great Procurement Teams

Teams are the life blood of organizations.  Procurement professionals can learn and practice the 10-disciplines of effective teams to help their own teams succeed. This interactive session explores one of the disciplines: team learning.  Teams learn throughout their performance using tools like after-action reviews.  But many teams engage learning in another dimension.  They are involved in training delivery or evaluation of vendors’ proposed training approaches in procurements. This interactive session goes beyond team learning tools like after-action reviews.  It explores a practical learning model that can be used for self-managed learning, training development and delivery, and for assessing others’ training approaches.

Manage Procurement Risk and Change: Learn from the Stars!

Description: One of the 10-team disciplines in Seeing Excellence is the management of riskand its cousin change, often the greatest risk to a project or procurement. In this interactive session, stories about outstanding teams illuminate effective team leadership in managing risk and change. And attendees explore practical approaches to identifying and treating risk and resistance to change.



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