In our daily lives we procure not with money, but with our values. We buy cars that bring us ‘joy’, purchase clothes that ‘empower’, acquire services that make us ‘happy’ … and reject offers that do not match our ‘hopes’. Institutional procurement is moving in the same direction – we no longer decide only on price, speed and quality … but factor in sustainability, modern slavery, and social value. The brands we represent can no longer afford to associate with brands that are not aligned to our values; because of the transparency afforded by social media these intangible assets can decimate our tangible assets in a heartbeat.
The decision metric of procurement is not the just the dollar, but how aligned we are to those we procure from and with. When we decide to cut 3% from or budgets to increase shareholder value, the likelihood is that a community suffers, and worst still across multiple layers in the global supply chain others enter into slavery conditions. Because of you, some will end their lives in abject poverty, and others will celebrate life. Your decisions can lead to the ultimate sacrifice – in your hands is the power that someone lives or dies.
Whether the tender is for stationary or a billion dollar bridge, the future of procurement is changing. Governments already recognise that it is the single greatest instrument to achieve national objectives, enacting laws to align their suppliers with their values. It is surely time for procurement professionals to break away from the equivalence to the mundane world of accountants, auditors and actuaries, but to take our place at the top table in driving world change.
The 4th industrial revolution has provided us with a single instrument called Blockchain that can simultaneously measure, transact and delivery both financial and non-financial value transparently and at scale. This digital technology enables us to establish structures for good by making our financial decisions contingent on our institution’s alignment to a set of non-financial values. If we are being brave, we could involve AI to direct our decisions or to even fully automate the process, bypassing unfair or corrupt procurement which is prevalent wherever scale is involved. Furthermore, through tokenisation every single product, process, project, organisation or even person which is part of procurement can be fully aligned to all the stakeholders in our organisation – shareholders, customers, suppliers, government, environment, staff and the communities we serve.
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