Purchasing Lessons From Napoleon Bonaparte … NOT!

OK, admit that ever since watching Borat, I've pulled the "Not" style of joke probably more often than I should (especially considering I'm the kind of person who is not that funny, but likes to think he is). But the way Cohen deploys it in Borat to such great effect at the end has made the technique stick in my mind (which is in contrast to the more matter-of-fact Chicago-style of comedy made famous by Second City). In any event, I digress. Over on Big Picture Small Office, our protagonist in the never ending corporate drama offers an executive perspective on the retirement of a former group buying head whom he describes as someone who saw himself as "Emperor for Life," much like the real Napoleon who viewed himself in the same light.

The description of "Colin" could easily suit the type of renegade procurement leader of the past: "[He] was easily given to excess, not feeling the least bit trapped by the trappings of power. He surrounded himself with luxuries, lapdogs and layers of protection from the common elements. If the members did not appreciate his ways and lavish means, they had neither the courage nor, apparently, the perfect occasion to say something. Of course, they have benefited greatly from Colin's ability to wave his two-edged sword in the direction of suppliers and the group’s Board of Directors had long been willing to turn a blind eye to his peccadilloes. This proves Napoleon’s observation that the two levers for controlling the minds and movements of men are self-interest and fear." Obviously, in today's Spend Management world, this type of renegade swash buckling doesn't work anymore, at least in large part. But I'd argue this "Ode to Colin" still offers an entertaining lesson in tactics and approaches that worked in the past, however out of date they might be today. And besides, like everything else on Big Picure Small Office, it's a great and enjoyable read.

Jason Busch

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