When the NLPA launched the SPSM-BOK Mastery Model in 2014, one of the important principles we wanted to convey is that some procurement competencies are more advanced than others and that there should be a path to mastering those competencies in an optimal order.

So, we recommend starting one’s procurement education path with the online course “Mastering Purchasing Fundamentals.”  It covers the basics that every procurement professional should know, whether an entry-level junior buyer or a seasoned procurement leader.

We have had procurement professionals with over 25 years of experience tell us that they were surprised that they still learned a lot from that course.  There were things that they had forgotten.  Things that had changed since they were entry-level buyers.  And things that simply were not taught in the less formal education of their formative years.

But, relative to other competencies, the tactical purchasing taught in “Mastering Purchasing Fundamentals” is not mind-bogglingly difficult to understand.

However, as one advances into Level 2 and beyond, the competencies become increasingly challenging.  As such, as in any educational journey in which the goal is to know everything there is to know about a profession, some people often approach the limits of their intellectual capabilities.

And this frustrates them.  Sometimes they blame the NLPA for presenting material that is difficult for them to understand.

For example, global sourcing is a very challenging aspect of procurement.  It’s not easy.  As you execute global sourcing, there are a lot of details you need to check and double-check before taking a step in the process.  That’s much like our course “Executing A Global Sourcing Strategy“:  you have to check to make sure you understand the concepts of a lesson before taking the quiz.

It’s an advanced course, the 10th in the SPSM-BOK Mastery Model.  So, it won’t be as easy as “Mastering Purchasing Fundamentals.”  But the NLPA’s goal is so much more than simply making it easy for students to pass the quizzes.  The goal is to give you the knowledge and help you practice the skills that will make you successful in the workplace and which will translate into success in the future.

Think of a weight lifter whose goal is to bench press 700 pounds.  Maybe they start with bench pressing 100 pounds and it’s pretty easy.  So, they move on to bench pressing 200 pounds.  It’s a little tougher, but still doable.  At 500 pounds, things start seeming hard as h*ck.  And 700 pounds sounds absolutely impossible.

Should the weight lifter blame his trainer?

I don’t think so.  Five hundred pounds is a lot of weight.  There is no way to deny that.

The inability to easily bench press 500 pounds just means that the weight lifter has approached the limits of his physical capabilities at that point in time.  With continued effort and a smart approach, however, the weight lifter may be able to extend the limits of his capabilities on the way to his ultimate goal.

That’s where we find some of our students as they get up into the higher levels of the SPSM-BOK.  They are approaching the limits of their intellectual capabilities.  And that hurts the brain.  But, like the weight lifter, they need to know that it is possible to extend the limits of one’s intellectual capabilities.  It isn’t easy and it may not be much fun.  But, it is necessary if you want to reach your goal of mastering the vast body of knowledge of the procurement and supply management profession and reach your true potential.

So, if you are getting into the advanced courses in the SPSM-BOK and are starting to find it not so easy to wrap your head around the concepts, please welcome the struggle.  It means that you are pushing yourself and growing your intellectual capacity, not just “lifting the amount of weight you were always able to lift” (i.e., confirming what you already know).

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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