Institute for Supply Management Annual Conference

Manufacturing Negotiation


Every year, sometime in May, the ISM convention is held at rotating sites around the country. This year’s event, held in Orlando, May 21-24, was attended by several thousand procurement and sourcing specialists from leading companies across the U.S.

Mobus Creative Negotiating brought a small team to share some of our expertise in negotiation, and to learn from other thought-leaders in the supply chain field. This is our third year participating in the convention and we strongly recommend this annual conference to those who are interested in tracking the latest trends in procurement.

The convention got off to a fast start with a rousing opening session featuring Colin Powell. The former Secretary of State, a retired four-star general, started by addressing an unspoken question that was on the minds of many: What gave this former military man the authority to speak on supply chain issues?

He immediately emphasized the importance of a vibrant supply chain to not only business but to military organizations as well; noting that as a young officer serving in Vietnam, the army could only go as far as the supply lines and logistics tail would carry them. On the global stage, in today’s world of business, Americans are leading the way in pioneering new approaches to make supply chains even more effective.

Frank Mobus and Bill Sanders ISM

Frank Mobus, Genelle Patacsil, Bill Sanders

That opened the door to Secretary Powell’s main theme: That globalism has spurred a worldwide wave of innovation, which has benefited countries with entrepreneurial cultures, while others have struggled. In a relaxed discussion after his main speech with Tom Derry (who, by the way, is the best interviewer I’ve ever seen at conventions like this), the Secretary illustrated how some countries foster an entrepreneurial culture while others don’t.

He noted that if you walk into a Walmart, Target or Costco and browse through the electronics department, you can pick up an item, turn it over and see that it’s likely to say “Made in China”. Wander over to the clothing section and articles will say “Made in China”, or “Indonesia”, or “Malaysia”. But you can search the whole store in vain to find one product that says “Made in Russia”. And yet, one of the leading entrepreneurs of the past generation is a Russian immigrant, Google co-founder, Sergey Brin.

His point was that one of our great strengths as a country is a culture which encourages entrepreneurship, acting like a magnet, attracting top talent from around the globe. In our upcoming blogs, newsletters and webinars we will be offering our insights into how this spirit of innovation is transforming supply chain organizations, especially through strategic sourcing initiatives.