A Spend Matters Book Club?

Should we start a Spend Matters Book Club? What do you think - is there an appetite for that?

I’m not suggesting we go off and read Hilary Mantel or the latest hilarious exploits of a single mum trying to cope with...  you know the sort of thing. We’d stick to procurement related books, maybe extending it to business or other factual books that have some relevance to our area.

We could choose a book, maybe every couple of months, and then we could review it here (with the ability for anyone to contribute to the review).  Perhaps we arrange an informal discussion session in the pub (London probably) as well for anyone who wants to come along?  And maybe we do a webinar or conference call if there’s enough interest?

Would that be a good way of making ourselves do a bit more reading, and an encouragement to continuous professional development? Or is everyone just too busy, or do we not read books anymore?

Now this came into my head originally because we have the perfect candidate for our first book. The CPO is a novel – yes, a novel – about a CPO, Thomas Sutter, who moves from being a mid level procurement manager in a German Automotive business to being CPO in Heartland Industries, a US based consumer products firm. It’s written by five (yes, five!) A T Kearney consultants -  Christian Schuh , Michael F. Strohmer , Stephen Easton , Armin Scharlach, and Peter Scharbert -  and it also features graphic novel type illustrations every now and again.

the CPO book

Its purpose is more educational than dramatic, in the sense that the novel format is used to get over key procurement ideas and advice. That very much follows a “procurement transformation” approach,  largely via introducing category management processes into a large global corporate, one that has been fairly backward in procurement terms.

I have personally considered many formats and ideas for procurement books over the years, and only got round to (co-writing) one. The novel idea has occurred to me, although I was thinking more in terms of a thriller with a procurement person at the heart of some huge global conspiracy! (Basically, think of the CPO as James Bond perhaps. Maybe a bit of wish-fulfilment fantasy there...)

The novel element in this book here is much more realistic, focusing mainly on the pressures Sutter faces when he moves to the US with his kids and lawyer wife, who also has her own career to worry about. I’m not sure yet that family dilemma is enough to sustain the non-procurement side of the story, but we’ll see - I’m about half way into the book.

So far, I think the five star reviews on Amazon are very  generous. The lead character is dull, dialogue is stilted and I don’t know how many firms would sanction a week away at a five star hotel in the Med for the entire global procurement team to kick off a transformation initiative! On the plus side, it’s certainly readable, the procurement advice is sensible so far, and it makes some excellent points about the human side of transformation programmes.

But I’ll save the full review for when I’m finished . Oh yes, and there aren’t any jokes. But then there weren’t in our book either (you’re not allowed to have jokes when it is an Economist book apparently).

Anyway, do let me know – comment or email (psmith at spendmatters.com)  if you’re interested in the book club idea. No commitment, no charge, just whether you are interested and think it is worth setting up something informal.

Voices (3)

  1. Ellen:

    Good idea. Can anyone join in? The CPO “novel” is a dodgy one though – reminds me of being at primary school where the teachers try to get a difficult subject into your head by making up a song about it…! Have to say – prefer the sound of your novel. Go for it. 🙂

  2. Peter Kobryn:

    Sounds a promising idea, and yes, would be interested in being involved

  3. Gordon Murray:

    happy to contribute – when I read a relevant book I tag it under book reviews on my own blog – you’ll find a review of CPO at http://drgordy.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/the-cpo-transforming-procurement-in.html – let’s see if we say snap?

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