I was in a discussion with a fellow panellist last week on the subject of competition. My angle for the debate had been on purchasing and there were some striking differences between the approach a buyer would take to deciding who to appoint and the way my colleague on the panel would work in their specialism. Let me put it this way:
You are invited to bid for the contract described in the accompanying documents. Please note the following points;
1 You will not be allowed to see the work during the selection process, but you may conduct internet research into what we do as an organisation to help you make your pitch.
2 We will not reveal any aspects of the selection criteria that we will use.
3 Unsuccessful candidates will be notified following our decision. Under exceptional circumstances we might consider providing feedback, but reserve the right not to do so.
4 No terms and conditions are included. These will be provided to the successful bidder as part of the award.
Now if I went out to tender on that basis I would be in trouble. Apart from the possibility of the market just not bidding there would be repercussions for in the public sector I would be acting outside of the regulations and any, or all, of the unsuccessful bidders could seek redress through the High Court. My lords and masters up the chain would not be best pleased and they, together with any regulator, would be after my blood. In the private sector there could also be potential legal challenges, but generally it would not just be a daft way to do business, it would be fundamentally unfair and would do little to help us get the best deal. As much as I am a critic of the Public Procurement regulations there are aspects of them that make sense and part of that is the open way in which things are done.
Yet to my platform colleague playing cards close to the chest was the norm in her part of business and she was truly appalled at my suggestion that she should operate her selection process in such an open manner, especially in terms of letting candidates know what the scoring method would be and publishing the results.
And so there we left it. Two wholly opposed ways of managing selection. Her job? Oh, sorry, she was a Recruitment Professional. Maybe that explains how disgruntled some of the people I am helping towards their professional qualifications feel so bitter about the selection processes they have had to face.