Awards and Honours, Music and Procurement

Well, we didn't see that coming - James Blake winning the Mercury Music Prize. Strangely enough, it was the last album I listened to (in the car on Wednesday afternoon) before the awards. I did think "this is very good, if a bit odd" without imagining it would triumph. When I reviewed it in April I said this:

"So this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but there are times when it all comes together into something quite beautiful. 8/10"Good for the judges really, at least it wasn't Laura Mvula or Bowie. I just felt Blake's work wasn't really a major step on from his excellent first album - which was in our top ten albums of 2011 by the way.

Let's move on to the process for awarding the prize, which has come in for some criticism. The list of judges is kept pretty secret, the process is fairly opaque, labels have to pay to enter... all factors that can ring some suspicion about the integrity of the process.

I read one article that suggested the list was put together simply by combining each judge's own top ten, which does tend to lead to the obvious choices being selected - I would suggest you need to meet and give judges the chance to argue the case for choices that may be less known but which they feel passionate about. But them I heard another report suggesting that was indeed how they did it!

But anyway, that led me on to thinking that we've been fortunate in procurement (in the UK anyway) that our two leading sets of awards, the CIPS SM Awards and the Procurement Leaders (PL) Awards, have both generally been credible, well organised and transparent in their processes.

There's always an odd grumble of course but generally, I've never heard anyone suggest that the process isn't trying to be as fair and rigorous as possible - within the constraints that the judges themselves tend to be busy people who can't spend months simply on the judging! There are some differences, and CIPS tends to attract more public sector entries whilst PL gets blue-chip global firms lining up to compete, but both I'd argue have good credibility - and long may that last.

I'm still available to join the Mercury judging panel next year by the way - and here's a James Blake track in case you don't know his work.

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