Seeing Excellence: Learning from Great Procurement Teams


 Home Up PeriSCOPE!

A Little History

In 2002, the Colorado Department of Personnel & Administration merged five officesState Purchasing, State Controller, Central Payroll, State Buildings and Real Estate Programs, and Central Collectionsinto a single division, the Division of Finance and Procurement.  The department had recently adopted a set of guiding principlesthe "3 Cs": customers, communication and credibilityto align the department.  The division leadership met and, despite widely varying missions, realized that they had three essential things in common.  They all had financial oversight functions with some operational responsibilities, all had external customers and interested internal stakeholders, and all had a role in oversight of delegated authority in a decentralized environment.

During August 2002, the Division of Finance and Procurement Core Team outlined a methodology around the acronym "SCOPE," which in the beginning stood for "Systematic Controls, Oversight, and Policy Evaluation," to reflect the internal control and oversight nature of the division's mission.  Over time, the relevance of the model to operations emerged.  For example, SCOPE was used to implement the 2004 statewide audit recommendations relating to the statewide accounts receivable debt collection function and processes. 

Back to the Future

My first foray into quality occurred with the Air Force's Total Quality Management program in Washington D.C.  Like other TQM implementations, the customer focus parts of the implementation were very good, but the metrics aspects of the program never seemed to gain traction.  Further, the momentum was difficult to sustain.

Two books were central to the development of SCOPEVision out of the division's work in continuous improvement. One was The Consultant's Calling by Geoffrey BellmanIt reinforced the conclusion that all managers are consultants, challenged just like external consultants in sustaining improvement and making organizations self-reliant.  That led to another book, The Six Sigma Way, that explained Motorola's Six Sigma system, now often combined with Japanese lean manufacturing principles as Lean Six Sigma.  The epiphany was that all of these models had very much in common, but in some ways they were difficult to apply to our division's mission. The use of SCOPE and research that followed helped flesh out the SCOPEVision core.

Use in the Division of Finance and Procurement

In the Division of Finance and Procurement, the model was used primarily in a financial controls and supply management environment.  The division's achievementsthe "missions accomplished" on the division's radarscopeincluded contract and procurement thresholds adjustments which eliminated transactions out of the central system, about 30% reduction over three years.  SCOPE was used to survey the state's contracting community and make improvements to the process. The model was used to clarify relationships between the Department of Correction's Correctional Industries and state agencies (who must purchase office furniture from them) and to streamline construction contracting review.  SCOPE was to implement statewide audit recommendations arising out of the statewide audit of the state's central debt collections operations. 

The original seven-SCOPE core was joined in 2004 by CinemaScope® as the metaphor for the leadership dimension.  In 2005, the horoscope was added as the metaphor for the organizational learning and knowledge management dimension, a reflection of the challenges being faced by lost knowledge in the division that was on the bow wave of retirements.  SCOPEVision evolved from SCOPE and is described in a 2005 Introduction, a piece that included some history of quality management, written before the stethoscope joined the SCOPEs as the visual metaphor for risk and change management.

I left state service in 2005 and returned to the practice of law.  The division eventually was dissolved in a reorganization and SCOPE disappeared.  In February 2017, I wrote a retrospective piece about SCOPE and its implementation in the division.

The Evolution, the Present, and the Future

I kept developing the concept, that teams can use some resources about and training in essential team disciplines.  SCOPEVision was integrated into supply chain management presentations at local meetings and conferences of the Institute for Supply Management, National Contract Management Association, and American Society for Quality in Colorado.  A seminar—Launch! Practical Personal, Project, and Performance Management—was developed in collaboration with a project management consulting company, Winning Ways Management LLC.  The inaugural seminar was held in April 2006 in Denver, Colorado.

A negotiation page was added to the original version of this website in 2008 to illustrate the central role of negotiations.  A leadership page was developed to provide an approach to self-discovery about the key principles of leadership.  This eventually became the foundation for chapter 10 of Seeing Excellence.

The tenth scope— stethoscope—was added in 2010 as the visual metaphor for risk and change management. Beginning in 2010, I started "story spotting" for effective project and quality management practices in public procurement.  My first story about an enterprising Ohio procurement professional who tackled cost reduction in cost-per-copy office machines was published by American City & County in the Fall of 2010.  For the next 2 1/2 years, I researched the back-story of exceptional procurement team achievements.  At first, these stories were published on this website.

In 2013, I published the stories in Seeing Excellence: Learning From Great Public Procurement Teams.  The stories at the heart of Seeing Excellence illuminate the three parts of the book: Expand the Team's Thinking; Focus the Team's Attention; and Sustain the Team's Efforts.  The book's chapters represent the 10-disciplines of effective teams.  The tenth, Lead Laterally: Choose to Help, is organized around five principles of effective leadership in teams.

In 2016, I learned that procurement offices were using the book.  Over the past year, I have written articles and spoken to groups about themes in the book; those presentations and publications are shown on the home page.  SCOPEVision still lurks below the surface during presentations, and the visual metaphors remain good placeholders for the 10 disciplines. 

Seeing Excellence has been adopted by the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) as a companion text to State and Local Government Procurement: A Practical Guide in its Procurement U initiativeI'll continue to speak about the essential disciplines of teams and lateral leadership when I'm invited.

I hope that you find the resources on this site useful.

Richard Pennington
Denver, Colorado
November 2017


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