Spend Matters welcomes a guest post from Art van Bodegraven.
Saved By The DVR
No, I have not been loafing and binge-watching the off-and-on TV sorta-hit that takes place in upstate New York with some tee-hee anachronisms and bizarre sci-fi occult characters. But, I did catch an online post that made me grasp the newel post for momentary support.
Some savant (not the good kind) opined in an absolutely wretched argument that marketing folks were girding their loins to do battle and rein in the excessive influence of the procurement folks. As you might imagine, I spent little time on that bucket of drivel, but was gripped in some uncomfortable afterthoughts.
Looking Back In Time
I quickly checked my timepiece – sure enough, the year appeared to be in the 2014-2015 range. I cast my gaze about, looking for a band of strange little men, oddly costumed and passing the time in quaffing spirituous beverages and playing at ninepins. Seeing none, I examined my own garb, either hoping or fearing to find myself in doublet and breeches, shod in buckled footwear, and trembling at the excesses of the crown in the New World colonies. Hooray or alas, whichever, I discovered that I was clad in garments previously the property of one Jos. A. Bank.
Good tidings or ill news, 'twas difficult to say, but it was clear that my timepiece was correct, that I belonged, whether in Sleepy Hollow or Peekskill, in this clothing, that the crown he been dealt with, possibly severely, and that General Washington was on his own.
So, I was not lost in time. Neither had I fallen asleep in one age, only to waken in another. Shaken even so, I turned fruitlessly to Katrina for comfort and counsel, no was shaken yet further by her absence.
Time Out Of Synchronization
But how to explain the animosity and threat of conflict between marketing and procurement? Surely this was not an open sore still festering, as it had for all these generations. I had heard it all before. Marketing, with a dismissive smirk, said, "We can't sell it if it is not on the wagon!" And the CEO, swaying in the winds of business and shareholder proclivities, seeming to agree. Procurement, all teeth and smiling, but not with their eyes, added "Waste not, want not! Your inventories are too high! We can get a better price if you let us do our jobs!" And the CFO, energized from finally burning Joan of Arc at the stake, nodding and rubbing his hands together, silently promising to rat out the CEO to the board of directors if he failed to line up behind the keepers of the purse.
But all this, so fresh and burning in my mind, was from another time, 50 and more years ago, resurgent some 30 years past, and at last killed by an overdose of common sense a decade ago. Back, like Lazarus, again? Gaining strength, like Voldemort amassing support for a final battle with Harry Potter? How could this be?
All storytelling, fantasy and hyperbole aside, I really was a bit more than taken aback by the posting. The idea of peer functions within a functioning organization battling one another for control and dominance is so last century. I really thought that any enterprise with any level of contemporary understanding was seeing and adopting collaboration (internal and external) as a win-win for functional peers and for companies, their customers and their suppliers.
Further, it is nearly amazing that any commentator who has not been asleep for half a century would promote the conflict as a legitimate contest of modern ideas in a mightily changed marketplace. I am frankly baffled.
My Bottom Line
If there are really enterprises of any consequence out there who are ready to watch marketing and procurement duke it out, winner take all, I am not predicting success for them. Any company in which the key players are not on the same page, in a sea of collaborators, are good candidates for drowning, for failing to acknowledge that learning to swim is essential to survival in the water.
I can always suggest that, in this case, procurement take the high road and make the opening overtures to the other combatant. That could be a mistake in an environment in which, apparently, a Caesar or emperor encourages death matches in public settings. Perhaps the right move here is for procurement to run, run like the wind, and stand clear of the apocalypse about to visit the poisoned environment.