Procurement Transformation Delays – The Role of Personality!

Procurement Transformation Delays

We’ve all heard of the need for Procurement to embrace the Digital Procurement transformation for many years. 

So why are so many organizations still in the beginning of this process?  

Why are industry projections failing to materialize despite ample technological advancements in Procurement?

Personality Matters

There are few procurement-specific personality surveys available.  However, I am aware of one from Pierre Mitchell that found the Myers-Briggs ESTJ type is the dominant one in procurement with over 20% of survey takers. In all, 5 personality types made up of 60% of all participants.  


The point here is that the majority of procurement professionals tend to be pragmatic doers who put more emphasis on facts than emotions or others’ opinions.  This combination does not naturally lend itself to innovation.

It would be valuable to see surveys of procurement professionals with other measure like DISC or Hogan Personality Inventory.

Team Composition Matters

In a 2017 study of team personality, researchers pointed out the importance of having a good mix of personalities to achieve optimal team performance.  Since team roles are largely defined by individual personalities, I suspect that procurement groups shine in characteristics of result, process, and rule orientation, and high pragmatism.  

Given the survey above, the same teams most likely lack the other two team roles, relationship building and innovative/disruptive thinking.

What’s The Remedy?

1. Assess

Take a good look at your procurement team and find out if you suffer from too much homogeneity. Knowing the personality and behavioral tendencies of individuals is the first step in understanding your team’s potential.  There are a number of free sources to do this like 123test.

2. Evaluate

Make a table of individual personalities, behavioral tendencies, and team roles.  A simple spreadsheet would suffice (no need to run statistical analysis) to count up where each member belongs.  More adventurous teams can also correlate personalities/behaviors by team roles for more insight.  The results should reveal any areas that are missing or lack.

3. Improve

This is the hardest part of moving forward.  While I won’t go into detail about change management (a topic that deserves its own segment), here are a few basic pointers to improve team performance from knowledge gained by the above tests.

a. Acknowledge, Accept, Allow

All change will meet some resistance whether or not people admit it.  In simple terms, detaching from the past is necessary for being open to change.  Having a group discussion about the test results is one way of creating the environment and mindset that is necessary to find new avenues for improvement.  Teams that are prone to groupthink may consider having a facilitator for this phase.

b. Contemplate, Commit, Change

There are always options for change.  Some teams will need new people, some will need training, and others may need organizational change.  Brainstorm about what you need, how feasible some of the solutions may be and create a plan to execute.  It is incredibly important to have commitment to the new approach by all members (or at least a majority).

c. Scrutinize, Standardize, Solidify

No change will be successful without monitoring activities and outcomes.  This should be natural to procurement teams as they tend to be analytical by nature.  The trick is to make the new way of thinking and doing things a habit.

Ideas to change team composition

Augmentation – procurement teams can borrow expertise from other departments, contract for missing skills/personality

Training – some topics that might help here are team building exercises, individual courses on self-analysis and introspection, or whatever seems to be the ‘shy’ area

Communication – improving methods and frequency of communication generally results in higher team cohesion

New practices – developing new individual and team practices is important for keeping mental agility and a culture of flexibility

Procurement Transformation

At the end of the day, procurement teams are no different from other teams and face similar challenges.  

The difference is the unique personality composition of the procurement industry that could use a jolt of fresh perspective from dissimilar people.

Procurement transformation article and permission to publish here provided by Katalin Brennan. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on January 10, 2019.