Our tale starts late on Christmas eve, in the bedchamber of Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge has worked long and hard to establish himself as Chief Procurement Officer at Midsize Industries. Scrooge has been successful but he has not had a happy career, gaining enjoyment from the misery of his suppliers and a reputation as a merciless negotiator.

It was a gloomy chamber, as dismal as a tomb. The walls were bare and stained with damp, the windows were cracked and filthy, and the curtains hung in tattered shreds. The only furniture was a bed, a table, and a chair, all of them old and worn. The bed was covered with a thin blanket, and the pillow was hard and lumpy. The table was littered with papers and books, and the chair was broken and uncomfortable. The fireplace was empty and cold, and the only light came from a single candle, flickering and dying.

The ghost of Jacob Marley appeared to Scrooge, where he lay awake, caressing his beloved paper contracts. Marley’s ghost was bound with heavy chains, made of ledgers, promissory notes, and invoices. He looked pale and miserable, and his eyes were full of sorrow.

“Who are you?” asked Scrooge, trembling with fear.

“I am the ghost of Jacob Marley, your former CPO,” said the ghost. “I have come to warn you, Ebenezer, of the fate that awaits you, if you do not change your ways.”

“What fate?” asked Scrooge, incredulously.

“The fate of prehistoric procurement, Ebenezer,” said the ghost. “The fate of those who devote their lives to the pursuit of cost savings, at the expense of everything else.”

“What is that fate?” Scrooge asked, impatiently.

“The fate of being chained, Ebenezer,” replied the ghost, sadly. “Chained by your own greed, your own selfishness, your own indifference.”

Scrooge looked at the ghost with horror and disbelief. “Jacob, this is madness. This is nonsense. This is a nightmare. Procurement is a noble and honourable profession, a source of wealth and power, a means of success and happiness. I have done nothing wrong, nothing to deserve such a fate. I have followed the rules, the laws, the standards of my business. I have been a prudent and efficient buyer, a shrewd and competitive negotiator, a wise and profitable trader. I have been a good and faithful partner, a loyal and respectful employee, a reliable and trustworthy employer. I have nothing to fear, nothing to regret, nothing to change.”

Marley shook his head and said “Ebenezer, you are deluded, you are mistaken, you are deceived. Procurement is more than a profession, more than a source, more than a means. It is a responsibility, a duty and a mission. It is a responsibility to ensure the quality, the sustainability, and the ethics of the products and services you buy. It is a duty to respect the rights, the interests, and the needs of your suppliers, your customers, and your employees. It is a mission to create value, not only for yourself, but for your society, your environment, and your world. You have failed in your responsibility, you have neglected your duty, you have betrayed your mission. You have done everything wrong, everything to deserve such a fate. You have been an imprudent and wasteful buyer, a dishonest and unfair negotiator, a foolish and unprofitable trader. You have everything to fear, everything to regret, everything to change.”

Scrooge looked at the ghost with curiosity and doubt. He said “Jacob, what chance, what hope, what way?”

Marley replied “You will be visited by three spirits, Ebenezer. The spirit of procurement past, the spirit of procurement present, and the spirit of procurement yet to come. They will show you the past, the present, and the future of your life and your business. They will show you the errors of your ways, the consequences of your actions, and the possibilities of your choices. They will show you the fate of procurement, Ebenezer, the fate of procurement. Listen to them, learn from them, change with them. Or else, you will share my fate, Ebenezer”

Scrooge looked at the ghost with fear and wonder. “Jacob, when will they come, how will they come, why will they come?”

Marley said “They will come tonight, Ebenezer, tonight. They will come one by one, hour by hour, spirit by spirit. They will come for you, Ebenezer, for you. They will come because I have asked them, Ebenezer, because I have asked them. They will come because I love you, Ebenezer, because I love you.”

And with that, Marley faded away, and Scrooge was left alone in his cold, dark bedroom, waiting for the spirits to come.