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AOP 2018 Annual Letter (Part 2): Art of Procurement in Review

By December 28, 2018January 4th, 2019No Comments

The end of 2018 marks 3.5 years since I decided to “risk it all” as they say, leaving the confines of comfortable employment with a top tier firm to try and make a difference at scale.

It has been an ongoing evolution:

AOP1.0: Experiment: Is there a community of like-minded professionals dedicated to pushing themselves and their teams and challenging the status quo?

AOP2.0: Community! We professionalize content creation.

AOP3.0: Funding? Is it possible to build a community-supported business rather than relying on corporate sponsorship?

What worked in 2018:

There are lots to be happy about in 2018:

I strengthened a number of relationships and got to meet and connect with a number of others who inspire me and my team to do the work that we do every day.  

I continued to build the team at the Art of Procurement; we have the foundations for growth! We have a plan, and I’ve never felt happier about our plans going into a new year as I do heading into 2019.

We built a tech-enabled product! The CatalystCo Platform is a few months old, and we have our first corporate and individual clients engaged. They are using the platform to help them take action and challenge their status quo.

We brought in a team of interns over the summer of 2018; it was a pleasure to work alongside so many bright young professionals.  They challenged my thinking and helped put in place some behind the scenes changes that were much needed. We are really looking forward to working with more interns again in the future.

We experimented with a daily podcast, our #TakeActionOctober series.  I was really happy with the feedback received.

I learned a lot about running a business, mostly by making some mistakes along the way! I learned from a business partnership that did not generate the anticipated results. I “trusted the process” in one part of our business and was not decisive enough when it became clear that the strategy was not working.  

Each conversation with a procurement professional is a gift that can never be taken away. Every one validates, refines or matures my thinking.

We have a client base that I am proud of: procurement leaders willing to take a risk on the small guys in pursuit of a different outcome.

What Did Not Work in 2018.

The first three-quarters of the year were the most difficult months of my professional career.

I brought in some help to support our business development efforts. We both had a lot invested in the success of the relationship. I learned a lot, but it just didn’t work out how we hoped.  

We made it too difficult for prospective clients to understand exactly how we can help. Are we the Art of Procurement?  Are we Palambridge? Are we CatalystCo? What do we actually do?

We didn’t evolve the diversity of content in the way I would have liked.  I had hoped to grow a more vibrant blog with practitioner-led guest posts, and new podcast formats to stop the interview format going stale.

I said “yes” to too many things. As a result, I have an inbox that, to be honest, is out of control and a schedule to match. I may declare email bankruptcy to start off the new year. Please know that if you are still waiting for a response, it isn’t personal – and please reach out again!

Challenging Our Status Quo in 2019.

We are going back to basics to make it much easier for members of the procurement community to know how we can help them on their change journey in 2019. (Watch this space for more details soon!)

We are going to add a number of workshop-based offerings (remote and in-person), working with members of our community to help deliver programs that empower participants to drive change with confidence.

We will continue to invest in the development and growth of The CatalystCo Platform.  We strongly believe it is the future cornerstone of procurement learning and development; that it helps learners grasp new ideas but also provides the structure to put into practice what they already know.

We are going to start mixing up the podcast format.  There is still room for a 45-55 minute interview, and we have a couple of months worth already recorded,  but less can be more. We’ll still have a podcast every week, but with more dynamic formats.

I’m not entirely sure what to do with This Week in Procurement. For the first 9 months of 2018, we produced an almost weekly newsletter, This Week in Procurement, that had evolved to become a detailed piece of writing. As a result, it suffered from consistency issues in terms of the publication schedule.  I have become more dissatisfied with, and less inspired by, the content that is written about and for procurement in 2018. In short, there is a lot less that is shareable and isn’t a rehash of the same old content. Paradoxically, of course, that means that there should be a greater interest in the curation of those writings that do add to the conversation.   So, we will continue to experiment with the format and timing. Please, let us know by what you like, and what you do not.

We want to immerse ourselves in emerging technology.  There is so much recycled hype out there. What is real?  We have tried to be responsible in covering the digitization potential of procurement, but there is still too much conjecture and not enough pragmatism about what the future may hold.

We have our plan, and I hope you have yours!  Here is to a successful 2019!


To read Part 1 of our 2018 Annual Letter, which focused on the procurement profession, click here.

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