Summer Reading – A Handful of Recommended Books, Procurement and More

Now the summer holidays are here, we are going to suggest some reading that will keep you busy … you can read the rest of our preamble here if you missed it first time around!

So today, some books you might like to pick up over the holidays. I’ve tried to stick to works that are vaguely procurement-related but also vaguely “readable on the beach”.  So for instance, I have great  respect for the works of Jonathan O’Brien, whose oeuvre is probably the most impressive of any procurement writer over the past 20 years (I really think that is true – Andrew Cox being his only rival). But while his books are not “difficult” in any sense, they are probably a little too topic-focused to realistically enjoy in the departure lounge or by the pool.

Indeed, the same applies but in spades to the works of Dr Cox. A great man of the procurement thought leadership world – but generally not an easy read I’m afraid after a couple of Pina Coladas.

So what have we got? Well, we arrive at two types of book – those that are more procurement practitioner focused, and those that are not core procurement books at all but are interesting and potentially useful for those in the profession.

In the first category, we put Sigi Osagie’s “Procurement Mojo from 2014, which is both very readable yet packed with good thinking and advice. It’s one of the best procurement books of the past 20 years in our estimation.

Caroline Booth is one of the few other practitioner CPOs to write a useful book, aimed perhaps at senior non-procurement folk as much as practitioners. It’s also somewhat easier to read than the slightly daunting title Strategic Procurement: Organizing Suppliers and Supply Chains for Competitive Advantage might suggest!

We had mixed feelings about The CPO: Transforming Procurement in the Real World when it was published back in 2012. It’s an attempt by some clever AT Kearney consultants to write a novel with a real human story and some half-way decent plot and characterisation that also explains how best practice procurement works. We rate this more highly in retrospect than we did at the time; I might even re-read it over the summer.

The absolute classic in our list is “Getting to Yes” by Fisher and Ury of the Harvard negotiation project, which is still the number one negotiation book for both beginners and more advanced executives. There are other good negotiation books but this remains the classic and if you haven’t read it you should.

Moving outside our profession, we like Seth Godin as an inspiration in terms of marketing, digital thinking and even careers. His books are sometimes just a collection of his daily blogs, but if you haven’t checked him out, books like Linchpin and the Purple Cow are worth considering.

The we have the most important non-fiction book of the past 20 years, Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. We’ve said enough about this over the years – but in summary, it will change the way you think about the way you think!

And finally, moving away from procurement and business altogether … if you have a sense of humour and if you appreciate brilliant writing that appears effortless yet perfectly achieves its aim, take Chocolate and Cuckoo Clocks: The Essential Alan Coren with you to the beach, the mountains or the 3-hour passport-control queue. A collection of the late humourist’s best articles over a 40-year career as a writer, columnist, and broadcaster, it is simply excellent, very consistently funny, yet in a few places might just make you cry too.


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