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Fun in Stockholm

Good news if you’re based in the Nordics or fancy a trip to Stockholm – my great new colleague Geetha will be presenting at the SAP Ariba Nordic Forum on 7th March. Geetha has a novel and rather inspirational take on procurement’s metaphorical transformation from Pac-Man (if you missed him you probably missed the 1980s too) to today’s Procurement Ninja and it appears it’s not too late to register either.

For me the fusion of the 1980s and Ninjas conjures up images of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, named Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello; truly. They also had a Master Yoda type figure who was a wise sewer rat; really and truly. I can only guess at the chaotic process which inspired this great TV series.

Last week I was reminded of the importance of chaos as advised by, the once unfairly maligned but now with reputation restored, Friedrich Nietzsche (It was his sister’s fault, he was actually a good egg ). Without chaos we can’t give birth to any dancing stars. Could there be a more compelling reason for chaos?

Evidently, the famous philosopher was as hot on metaphor as Geetha. Where the great and good lead I shall follow. I assume the point is entertaining disjointed thoughts helps creativity do its work leading to bright ideas. So, I decided to explore what it was about those four renaissance Italians which made my cartoon heroes borrow their names.

Option One: They made art. No stars with this response

Option Two: They collaborated, they innovated, they inspired, they mixed science and art, they were transformative. Definitely a star which might dance with a bit more detail.

Dancing Star Option: Donatello revived the classical subject matter of naked men ( bronze David) and clothed horsemen (this guy). He studied with masters like Ghiberti and Brunelleschi (doors and dome of Florence’s baptistry & cathedral). Michelangelo “did” David years after Donatello. A contemporary of Leonardo, Michelangelo mocked his rival’s non-completion, until 500 years later, of a giant bronze horseman. Leonardo’s other unrealised designs include a flying machine and a submarine but that he dared to dream them is quite special. According to people who know better than me Raphael’s “innovative spirit was spurred … as he responded to … Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo”.

Dipping into those four biographies, the extent to which the artists inspired, learned from and competed with each other made me appreciate anew the dynamic environment of Renaissance Italy. I can’t resist the temptation to think of that environment as an eco-system. Given I live in the 21st century and work in IT, that seems fair.

The possibilities around me in my day job now seem very alive. Since about 60% – 70% of the value of a company is in its supply chain – in the stuff it buys, going beyond procurement to total spend management can be transformational. This is certainly true when procurement gets into the fun stuff like co-engineering product as Sky Group is already doing. Going further what if businesses could be part of an ecosystem which connects that procured spend to every 3rd party genius?! That’s the vision SAP Ariba’s daring to dream … Come and join us in Stockholm

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