Rebranding The CPO Part 2: It’s What’s Inside That Counts!

Mike Cadieux

With noses pressed against the window looking in on a group of happy people feasting in the warmth of a fire while we stand outside in the cold shivering.

We want a seat at that table.

For years this has been the lament of the procurement professional. Like Rodney Dangerfield, all we want is respect. An acknowledgment of the fact that what we do makes a difference, and that our opinion is worthy of being heard.

But is it? Is what we have to say worthwhile? How do we know what we know is of any value to our organization? After all, wanting a seat at the table doesn’t mean we deserve one. 

Finding Our Value – Finding Ourselves

While the title of this article may be posing the question about rebranding the CPO, such an exercise goes much deeper and broader than a single office. Think of it from the standpoint of the chain only being as strong as its weakest link.

If there isn’t a strong case for our value in one area, then it draws into question our value across the entire chain. In other words, the value we deliver isn’t limited to a title or a position, but to a way of seeing and doing things in the emerging global (digital) marketplace.

As technology advances and supply chains become more and more extended and complex, execution at all levels is a necessity.

What this means is that we can no longer view our role from a transactional standpoint, i.e., the acquisition of goods or service, but a strategic one.

To be strategic means that we must expand our areas of expertise beyond the limited and limiting scope of the past. Supplier risk management – something we usually treat like a hot potato, managing acquisition splintering such as when CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs, predictive analytics, and data cleansing, and many others are responsibilities with which we must now take the lead.

Changing Mindsets Versus Rebranding Titles

Of course, to reach this level of expanded perception of what it is we do versus what we should be doing requires that we change our mindset both on an individual and collective basis.

Several years ago, a CPO Roundtable on the future of the procurement professional concluded that one strategic thinker is worth more than ten every day, “run-of-the-mill” buyers!

If that doesn’t provide the necessary motivation for change, perhaps the words of IACCM CEO Tim Cummins will. During a more recent international panel discussion before an audience of 700 procurement professionals, Cummins indicated that 40 percent of those sitting in the room would be redundant within five years.

As you think about whether you are part of that 40 percent group, here is where the CPO “rebranding” thing comes into play.

Real Change Starts at The Top

Once again, rebranding in and of itself is not enough as it suggests a surface change like putting a fresh coat of paint on a dilapidated house. The paint may be new, but the house itself is still old and ready to fall apart.

What is needed is a “rebranded attitude” starting at the top.

Far too often, there have been many procurement professionals who have the vision and energy to step into the strategic player limelight, only to be told by way of performance reviews and incentives that their job is still getting the best price.

As you read this, the question you must ask yourself is whether the CPO is extinguishing your vision and energy or encouraging and championing it.

In this context, it is the attitude of the CPO and not “their brand” that matters the most, because that will determine which side of the 60/40 equation you and they are on.