Tuesday, 19 February 2013

GO Awards: Cynic, Entrant, Sponsor, Judge, Winners, Losers

The closing date for entering the 2013/2014 GO Awards is 8 March. The publication of the closing date reminded me of my own journey from a cynic.

My interest in procurement awards started during the 1990s solely as a result of the Best Value regime. I wanted some sort of external validation to demonstrate that we were good at our job. I was a cynic being opportunistic.

It wasn't easy to tailor our entry to the award criteria, especially since there was a word count restriction but the discipline and effort paid off. We didn't win but we did get invited to the award ceremony and ended up with some sort of commendation. The real value came through the spin-offs. The profile within our organisation soared. The team's internal credibility soared. The espirit de corps soared. The team's confidence and pride it itself soared. Yes, it was a big dividend for the small investment in entering.

Something like a decade later, I was programme managing the National Programme for Third Sector Commissioning. I wanted some demonstrable evidence of how the public sector were embedding Third Sector Commissioning. The GO Awards were an obvious part of the strategy - sponsor, encourage entries, get really good case studies into the public domain, and, as icing on the cake, get the MInister to speak and make the awards. Yes, a big dividend for a comparatively trivial investment.

Surprisingly, last year I was invited to judge. I had the luxury of reading all the entries for the categories I was judging. Some great case studies, some not so good, and sadly some who just didn't seem to match the award criteria at all. It was an encouraging insight into the hidden world of procurement successes as opposed to the 'bad press' our community seems to be dogged by.

Public procurement is facing what to me appears unprecedented unfounded criticism at the present and we desperately need to get on top of that criticism with a strong marketing strategy before our reputation is completely eroded - the GO Awards provide a showcasing opportunity we urgently need.

When I compare my cynical journey of just wanting external validation of good performance, I wonder how long it will be before the tables are turned and CPOs will be called upon to give an account as to why they DID NOT enter - after all it only takes a few minutes and the potential dividends are high.

When asked this year to be a judge, naturally I said 'yes'. Now I look forward to reading the entries and being a part of sharing some of the success of the real practitioner heros of the procurement world. I hope I am bogged down with entries to read. I just wish that I could also pat on the back the many good entries which just are beaten in the competition and therefore don't get the accolades they deserve too.

Losers - well perhaps that's just those who don't think they've a good enough deliverable to share. Is it a lack of confidence in performance which stops you entering now?

My advice:
  1. Take the few minutes to complete the entry with your team;
  2. Focus on matching the criteria;
  3. Remember the word count;
  4. Self-critique your entry as if you were evaluating a bid against the evaluation criteria;
  5. Share and celebrate your success.
How could you possibly lose?

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