A scary clown

Don’t miss updates on Procurement & Supply Chain, Subscribe here!

The last workshop I attended at the ISM conference today blew my mind. And not in a good way.

This workshop was put on by a supply chain director and supply chain manager. It was all about how they built and implemented a competency model for their supply chain team.

I had assumed that it was supposed to be about a success story. The presenters did indeed seem proud of what they did, but it sure didn’t exactly sound like anything in the same zip code as success.

This implementation of a competency model involved assessing the skills of the supply chain team, evaluating options for filling gaps between capabilities needed and capabilities possessed, and implementing improvements and training. Sounds like a logical progression, right?

How long do you think this took this company to accomplish that?

If you said several months, you’d be wrong.

If you said a year, you’d be wrong.

If you said two years, you’d be wrong.

How long did it take?

Three-and-a-half to four freakin’ years!

“Well,” you may say, “I bet with that investment of time and resources, they did things so perfectly that the business got tremendous value as a result.”

I thought that may be the case, too. Or maybe not. So, I had to to ask the presenters.

I said “This was a four-year process. So, what were your business results before this initiative, what are your business results now, and what’s the ROI on everything you’ve done?”

The director’s response? Well, it wasn’t we saved “x” dollars in 2006 and we saved “x+y” dollars in 2010. Far from it. The director stumbled through a response that went like this…

“Uh, good question…Our business is different…We just spun off, uh, the shipbuilding, uh, part. So we just peeled off, uh, 50,000 people and we no longer, uh, you know, we no longer build the submarines and the aircraft carriers, you know, they spun off into a, a, uh, a separate business. So, that’s not directly tied to this…So, has it had a direct, uh, ROI over that? No, maybe not. Uh, are we seeing ourselves, uh, out in, um, in industry, uh, you know, doing better things? Uh, yes.”

Four years. No measurable ROI.

I didn’t think companies let people get away with shenanigans like that anymore.

If clowning around with well-paid resources like that isn’t enough to get someone fired, what about the fact that procurement teams do not need to reinvent the wheel to assess the skills of the members nor pay any money to do so? Next Level Purchasing offers a free skills assessment to qualified companies. And this company would certainly have qualified.

Bizarrely, this director continued his circus of a presentation by advocating ISM as a single source of training and appeared to take a shot at other providers in general and Accenture in particular with his emphasis on the words “consultant” and “academy” in this borderline incoherent diatribe: “One problem that we have, uh, today is that, uh, the training, talent and development is, is a crowded market space. And so you have people showing up every day that can solve your problems. And, and some of them will claim to be ‘I’m, I’m, I will train and teach you development. I’m an academy and I’m a’ And you feel bad, you ask ‘You sound like a consultant.’ Any consultants in here? Good people, but…(laughs). But they’re creating noise. You know, they’re creating noise in a space that is well-served by ISM.”

OK. So this guy spent four years leading a project with no measurable benefit. And he is predisposed against all non-ISM training providers who may have actually helped him deliver business results and deliver them in weeks not years.

Do the letters B-O-Z-O come to your mind, too?

NOTE: Not all workshops at the conference were like this (i.e., bad). I hate to make my first post about the conference be a negative one, but this particular workshop was just so profoundly terrible that I would not be able to rest until I got these thoughts into writing.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At
Next Level Purchasing . com

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."

More Posts