None of Us is as Smart as All of Us

July 13, 2023

“None of us is as smart as all of us.” This quote from Kenneth H. Blanchard struck home as I waited for my flight after the Accelerate Executive Summit for buying groups and purchasing cooperatives.

If you are learning how to run a buying group, you are generally on your own.

No textbooks have been written on running a buying group. No Harvard Business School courses on how to change a membership agreement in the face of a small, but vocal group resisting change. No government statistics on purchasing cooperative spending.

How does someone new to the buying group world learn how to run a group, manage their members and engage suppliers, all while maximizing rebates?

We’ve all heard the adage “If you’ve seen one buying group, you’ve seen one buying group.” Partially because of the lack of learning materials, partially because of unique industry factors, and partially because of how groups have evolved, there is no “you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all” when it comes to groups.

Despite this, over the twenty years that I have been working with buying groups, one observation has always stood out – no matter how different a group is, they all face the exact same challenges. Member engagement, supplier participation, private equity, succession planning and generational changes, board management, competing against Amazon, large members versus small members, adding value, rebate optimization, and adopting technology are all common themes.

While the problems are the same, the approaches can be different. This is where Kenneth Blanchard’s quote comes in. As a group, we are smarter than as individuals.

That’s what makes events like Accelerate so valuable.

Accelerate gives buying group leaders the chance to sit down together, share notes, ask questions, and work out best practices. This year’s event included subjects as diverse as turning members into high performers, compassionate leadership, generational differences amongst member-owners, using artificial intelligence within your group, strategic planning with your board, and more.

LBMX’s recipe for the conference has been simple: Get a bunch of interesting and experienced people together, break the ice with actionable/practical sessions delivered by people actually in the buying group world, and maximize networking opportunities by meeting in a fun environment with limited numbers so everybody knows everybody.

Then we get out of the way.

We see ourselves as starting conversations rather than framing them, creating relationships across sectors and countries that endure beyond the conference, and learning through collaboration rather than by rote.

The chance to sit with a group of 80 people and not have to explain to any of them what a buying group is or how it is different than any other business organization is rare. The fact that they understand your pain and your victories.

Whenever you get a chance to attend an event exclusively for buying group leaders, grab it. Because all of us are smarter than any of us.

If you have questions about Accelerate or wonder how you can get involved, please contact me at


LBMX offers a business-to-business marketplace platform, helping independent businesses, their buying groups, and suppliers buy better and sell more. Its Private Group Marketplace for Groups has transformed billing and ordering, rebate management, real-time analytics, e-commerce and product information management across the building materials, HVAC, plumbing, sporting goods, industrial supply, manufacturing, and agricultural industries. Its LBMX Supply Cloud platform allows suppliers to look at their industrial distribution customers through one lens, offering full EDI, PIM, Analytics and Payments.

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