Sacked by Supply Management – part 2

Yes, thanks, I'm feeling a bit better now after my dismissal, but appreciate your concern, was a bit of a shock...

Anyway, I've had some response from CIPS on the questions I posed after Supply Management (SM) decided we were competitors and as such didn't want me to write for them, and refused to feature anything about Spend Matters.

I do accept it was a purely SM editorial decision, and the CIPS line is  "Steve (SM editor) has editorial control and makes his decisions in the best interests of SM as he sees it",  although that begs the question of what the Editorial Board is for...

What did surprise me was the comment from CIPS that "we would as a general rule not publicise other organisations in our space" and that there is a CIPS view that "we shouldn't encourage commercial advertising in SM from competitors such as training providers, the logic being that it could impact on the revenues we need to carry out our charter objects. This has been raised in the Council review of competitive risk".

Maybe I'm naive but I don't remember CIPS taking such a tough approach when I was involved, and I sense some tension here because training adverts - including related to CIPS qualifications - do appear in SM.  SM don't do training themselves so I guess they're pleased to take that revenue but CIPS are apparently not so happy.

So the logic on the CIPS Royal Charter responsibilities seems to be this.  CIPS can choose how it delivers against its charitable objectives, and if that means being pretty ruthless in its money making activities, and using it's pretty dominant market position to keep competitors at bay, that's fine, as long as the income is used to support its goals.  After all, Tesco doesn't have to tell people when Sainsbury's are cheaper on a product....

Which is fine I think, unless the Charity Commission decides there isn't enough emphasis on  'public good' benefits, which is probably unlikely given CIPS' worthy efforts in areas such as helping developing countries run their economies better.

But there is a wider danger. Every would-be monopoly provider tells themselves and the world that "actually, everything would be much better if we had 100% market share...honest! We'd be really good and kind and give lots of money to the poor people......"

And yet that doesn't seem to happen somehow with monopolies, and that's why procurement people like vibrant, competitive, innovative markets.

So, on reflection, CIPS and SM are perfectly within their rights to fire me and I suspect they shouldn't lose too much sleep over the Royal Charter and the Charity Commission!   But as well as the wider 'market monopoly' risk described above, there are two real business issues for CIPS and SM to watch out for if they persist with this approach.  I'll come back to them later this week, then I'll shut up about it!

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Voices (2)

  1. Charles Dominick, SPSM:

    I think that the notion of thinking of CIPS and ISM as “charities” because they are technically not-for-profit entities is a fast-fading perspective. They are businesses with fairly-well-paid executives and a competitive mindset. Their raison de etre is essentially to provide services to businesses, not to cure disease, feed the poor, or achieve world peace. They just fit within the legal system such that they don’t have to pay taxes.

    That emerging “non-profit-does-not-make-you-good” realization in the market along with the existence of education providers who are better/faster/more current/more tech-savvy/less expensive have put CIPS and ISM in uncomfortable situations where they feel they have to look over their shoulders all the time and protect themselves. They realize that the quality of their services isn’t high enough to keep them around, so they cling to the fact that they’ve been around for decades to survive.

    If you ever want to make the most of the fact that CIPS considers you a competitor, let’s talk.

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