"Parts Is Parts" - The Key to Differentiating Yourself

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Canda Rozier

A long time professional friend, who is the CPO at a global company, recently reached out to me, asking my opinion about an upcoming virtual sourcing event. He said he wasn’t familiar with the hosting organization, and after having joined some disappointing online events, he was becoming more discerning about registering. I realized that I have found myself doing the same thing.

Back in the 1980’s, Wendy’s ran a very popular TV ad in which they compared their chicken sandwich made with real chicken breast to other fast food restaurants which used pressed chicken. A customer in a “non-Wendy’s” restaurant asks the clerk what was in the chicken and a girl walking behind the counter said, “Parts”. The customer asked, “What parts?”. The employee behind the counter blasély said, “Parts is parts”.

The implication was clear – it was just passable, not nutritious, and probably not very tasty, at least compared to Wendy’s chicken.

And to this day, when I hear a person say, “Parts is parts”, I immediately know that they mean it’s just good enough, it’s not memorable, and possible barely mediocre.

The phrase seems to be increasingly applicable to some of the plethora of content related to procurement and sourcing. The number of webinars and virtual conferences continues to grow, and the topics are often similar if not almost identical. In fact, often the same speakers (who may be legitimately experts and thought leaders) headline multiple events on the same topics, just with different sponsors.

Surely in a field as diverse and dynamic as procurement and strategic sourcing, content providers can find ways to differentiate their events, and to provide unique and compelling topics to the industry?

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To be fair, when the pandemic shut down business as we knew it a year ago, event organizers and content providers scrambled to shift to a fully virtual environment. And as a whole, they did a fabulous job. The amount of content, professional interaction, and industry thought leadership that has been provided has been tremendous. But as we emerge from the pandemic lockdowns to the a new, more hybrid environment that is both virtual and gradually in person, events and content will need to shift again.

Procurement leaders have limited time to engage in online content, and increasingly are choosing how they invest in webinars and virtual conferences. As attendees, we want content that is relevant, meaningful, sheds a new light or perspective on a problem or challenge in the industry, and provides us with a clear take away and value proposition.

In his groundbreaking book, “The Innovators Dilemma”, Clayton Christensen proposed that companies which find and maximize adjacencies are more successful than those that only continue with their historical focus. The same is true for procurement, sourcing, and supply chain. And those adjacencies can be the differentiators for industry events and content creation.

I would challenge the content providers to seek ways to make their events more compelling, more “100% real chicken” and less “parts”. Those which differentiate their content will be more successful, and will create stronger and more ongoing interactions with procurement leaders.

Likewise, I would encourage procurement professionals not to settle for “parts is parts”. Look for content that offers the 100% real meat. You deserve content that is nutritious, tasty, and makes you want to come back for more.

→→→  I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to SSON; they exemplify how to continually provide new and evolving content!


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