Since leaving CPO Agenda a couple weeks back, Geraint John has changed the name of his blog to the mysterious: CPO Confidential. Regardless of the name, the good news for all of us is that Geraint is continuing on in the same spirit as before, leveraging his knowledge and relationships to report and analyze the market from a vantage point that few others share. A recent post is further proof that Geraint is here to stay. In it, he provides some personal anecdotes about why most procurement executives can't cut it at the highest levels, suggesting that many presentations and presenters he's heard over the years at procurement conferences "were basic and/or superficial, some downright dull, while others were simply unfathomable".
The fundamental challenge is whether or not these guys and gals could sit "around a boardroom table engaging in an intelligent business conversation -- not just a procurement one -- with their CEO, CFO or other C-level executives AND walk out the door with their reputation enhanced". Unfortunately, the answer in most cases is probably no, Geraint argues. And also unfortunately, I'd have to second Geraint's perspective, at least on this side of the Atlantic. Perhaps together we'll come up with a CPO literacy test or tutorial to help procurement executives better hold their own in general business conversation and presentation with the most senior members of the organization and their shareholders.
Granted, much of the talk at this level can be somewhat superficial and more focused on general cultural business literacy, but if you're just in the weeds and stuck in the language of basic cost savings initiatives and programs, chances are you're not going to get much further in your career. Even though I've long frowned upon the need for people to go to a top business school -- or business school at all for that matter -- there is a level of education by cultural initiation that takes place within these programs (as well as top consultancies and investment banks). If you want to crack the c-level code coming from procurement, best to learn and practice the language.