Monday, 11 February 2013

Credibility and procurement

I recently had the good fortune to attend a lecture by the Swedish Finance Minister, Anders Borg, at the LSE - you can access the transcript of his speech here. Perhaps you managed to catch him being interviewed on Newsnight. His ear-ring and pony-tail are not what you expect from a successful politician and economist - appearances are one thing.

Borg impressed. He spoke with authority, was charismatic and above all was credible. Indeed 'credibility' could have been the theme of his speech as it seemed to be weaved throughout his message. For example, the need for the market to view the national economic strategy as credible.

Credibility is central to anyone paying attention to you, your opinions and your plans. Lose credibility and you are in a very precarious place. One of the reasons I am sceptical about some of what I hear is the absence of credibility, for example, the sprochling* for a cause of the recent horse meat debacle. Nevertheless, think of the last time a supplier made a promise to you, let you down, then again, and then the defaulting supplier said: "we've it sorted, trust me".

The CPO needs credibility too. Those who engage, both internally and externally, with CPOs need to be convinced that the sustainable procurement policy will make a difference, the new procurement strategy will make a difference, the sourcing plans will make a difference, the new eProcurement solution will make a difference - I'm sure you recognise it. The CPO needs to be credible if they are to bring about change and bring key stakeholders with them.

Sadly, there is a more bizarre dimension too - you may not realise when you are losing credibility. Over the last few months I have met a number of CPOs who exuded confidence but others lacked confidence in them - quite simply they lacked credibility. The CPOs were in denial, deluded, suffering from hubris and if they could have just been a tiny bit more humble may have been able to gain/regain credibility, which unfortunately, outside their personal 'bubble', they just didn't have. So it does seem that pride may come before a fall and while you are falling you may not even realise it.

As you may have picked up, I have given quite a bit of thought recently to personal accountability and indeed there appears to be a growing public expectation of the need for public accountability - consider, for example, the recent headlines regarding the Mid Staffs NHS mess and the allergy to personal accountability and the Health Secretary's call for those involved to be struck off. I am clear in my own mind that the need for personal accountability in procurement will increase. It goes hand in hand with procurement risk management and procurement justifying it's seat at the 'top table' and 'C-suite'.

But I have also come to the conclusion that personal credibility is a key ingredient for the effective procurement practitioner. Is it the 'X Factor'?

I may return to this discussion with some observations on how to gain credibility.

*'Sprochling': an Ulster Scots word best thought of as the image of a drunk man trying to extract himself from a very deep and muddy ditch. (At least you can't say you didn't learn something from Dr Gordy!)

No comments:

Post a Comment