More on the changing role of the Chief Procurement Officer – the CPO as Lady Gaga

Having spent last weekend at Reading Festival, but of course still thinking about our series of posts on procurement outsourcing, a link between the two topics suddenly occurred.

We discussed the idea here that the a key role of the CPO these days is, as we defined it, to “combine internal and external provision of services most effectively to maximise the contribution the procurement function can make to your organisation”.  

So here’s a musical analogy. I’ve been reading Keith Richards’ biography, and one of the interesting aspects is how tight the team was in the early days. The band, a handful of people close to them – now that changed over time as they got huge, but reading the book it is clear that for many years, the key session musicians they used for instance became very close to the band and were very much part of the “core team”.

A parallel in classical music might be leading orchestras where it is very much an employed team of people with a leader (conductor or musical director).  There’s some external input but it is the core team that is the key.

So they are our parallels with the “old” world of business and being a CPO, as in my day in the 90s where I managed 100 staff and used minimal external resource (whether that was people, technology, or other tools etc).

Now, let’s think about 2011 and Lady Gaga.

Life is more complicated, and the stakes are higher in the global music business – just as they are for high profile CPOs. But Gaga certainly does not employ everyone she works with. Some, yes – I’m sure a number of her most trusted musical, fashion, personal associates are employees of Gaga corporation. But not many, I would bet, and a lot of others aren’t, even those that are key to her overall success – and that will include musicians, songwriters, dancers, technicians, publicists....

So her job is to lead the ‘Gaga brand’ (or the function if you like), be the prime embodiment of it, take the lead on many outward-facing activities, and to choose how she acquires and manages the resources she needs to provide the “service”  - that her client base demands and will pay for.

Blending internal and external provision, motivating both types to perform to the best of their abilities, understanding what they can deliver to the common cause - these are all skills that Gaga needs . And arguably she has done that brilliantly – and those almost managerial skills are pretty much as important as her own personal performing and writing genius.

The CPO as Lady Gaga?  Think about it.

(I’m seeing an interesting competition here – which CPO you know most resembles Lady Gaga?  Maybe not...)


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Voices (6)

  1. David Atkinson:

    A slight variation….

    I’d see the job of the CPO to work with every single member of his/her team to ensure that each and every one embodies the desired brand values that, together, they have developed.

    And Mr. Guitar Man, everyone’s CPO has to resemble Dexy’s Kevin Rowland in the ‘Don’t Stand Me Down’ era.

  2. The Guitar Man:

    …or the CPO that most resembles Keith Richards. If it were also the lifestyle of Keith Richards, I could think of a larger number of potential winners!

    Your alternative, or additional, Friday afternoon light relief post could be “Which musical icon does your CPO most resemble?”

    John Denver or John Sebastian perhaps!!!!!

  3. Toni:

    Interesting title here Peter!
    It happens we are going to discuss this subject during a webinar with Lady Gaga… sorry I mean with a CPO on 22nd September, 12.30 to 1.30 pm for more info

    all the best


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