The Four Faces of Procurement, part 3 – The Diplomat

In this excerpt from our recent research paper, The Four Faces of Procurement, sponsored by Gatewit, we look at the first of the Four Faces themselves and start to describe just what we mean.

Professionals will need to blend an effective internal and external focus; and a combination of relationship and technical or analytical skills.

Let’s look at each of the Faces in more detail. (The first combines the "External" focus on one axis and the "Relationship" skills on the other).

THE DIPLOMAT - worldly, sophisticated, connected but tough

Success for many organisations will depend on access to scarce resources, and for larger firms in particular, an ability to work successfully with governments. Note the current situation in the financial services world, with regulatory issues, or take the example of large mining companies. Their ability to persuade national or local governments to grant them exploration or mining rights relies strongly on what they can offer in terms of developing the local economy. And a major factor within that is supporting and developing a local supply base. So procurement activities and executives play a key role in what is one of the most important and strategic drivers for the organisation – winning the trust of government.

We see this understanding of what we might call “responsible procurement” as being key for the procurement person in 2020.  And yet, responsible procurement must be allied with a hard headed, practical and pragmatic understanding of how to operate in a global environment. That also needs strong negotiation skills – but not a simple power based, “beat the supplier across the head” approach! We will need subtlety and sophistication.

This looks to us like the classic set of “diplomatic” skills, which go right back to the Venetians, through the renaissance courts, to the current day ambassadors and global UN negotiators. And as recent world events have shown, our procurement Diplomat will require toughness as well as charm. It can be a dangerous world.

Download the whole paper if you want to hear about The Analyst, the Investigator and  the Leader, who along with the Diplomat form our view of the Four Faces of Procurement...!


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