The one with the procured idea

I’ve never worked with a serious procurement function before. There have been serious buyers in the organisations I’ve worked for but they have been focussed on buying materials or products for the business to work with rather than buying the ‘stuff’ the business used to do it. My new role therefore has an added dimension and growing to understand the procurement process is so far proving intriguing…

During a recent conversation with a senior procurement colleague he happened to grab a marker and stand in front of a white board (there were no post its – he’s not a trainer) and draw a model which he was using to illustrate the different perceptions of value inherent in the work his team do. He referred to the model as the ‘triple bottom line procurement model’ and you can find more information is this very well written wiki but essentially the model looks like this:

It was developed by John Elkington and first referred to in his 1997 book “Cannibals with Forks: the Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business” and has been adopted organisations including the UN as a structure for driving sustainability.

So why is this of interest to a) me and b) you?

The easy answer to a) is I love a good model and I’m sure I’ve mentioned here previously whether they are directly relevant to the problem at hand they usually prompt a good discussion and the investigation of a problem from a different perspective.

The answer to b) is slightly more difficult to articulate.

I am not alone in having wrestled with the different models of training evaluation and have at various times dabbled with Kirkpatrick and his 4 (or 5) levels, Jack Phillip’s model of ROI, Robert Brinkerhoff’s model of success and some I’ve tried to cobble together from a mishmash of others but I’ve never really found anything that resonates with the rest of the organisation. Who really gives a stuff about happy sheets and whether they thought the trainer could do his job?!!

In my discussion with my colleague he immediately stated that the work I do/lead would be in the social sphere (“fair and beneficial business practices toward labour and the community and region in which a corporation conducts its business”) and I argued that whilst that may be the perception the work I do/lead should be about the economic sphere (“economic value created by the organization after deducting the cost of all inputs, including the cost of the capital tied up”) and that anything in the social sphere is an added benefit. An interesting debate ensued, our conversation concluded and we went about our days.

However (and there had to be a however) the more I’ve thought about it the more I’ve realised that a model such as this could be a lever (or at least part of one) to increasing the perceived value of developing people. Companies need to assert their sustainability credentials, they are measured  on how responsible an investment they are and our colleagues in CSR have used this leverage to push their activities up the corporate agenda. Why can’t we do the same?

This is still a bit of a random idea at the moment but it’s been bumping around my head for about a week now so I wanted to put it out there and see if anyone had a view….just me???


1 Comment

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One response to “The one with the procured idea

  1. Eh? I read it 3 times and either I’m thick (strong possibility) or you were pissed when you wrote it (even bet on this).

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