Yesterday morning, I had one of the more perplexing moments in front of my RSS reader.

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Purchasing Magazine published a story in which they named Steven Schaffer, Boeing’s Vice President of Global Partners, its Supply Chain Manager of the Year.

That itself wasn’t perplexing. But what was perplexing was the content of the story.

It started off going into how a supply problem forced a significant delay of the the much-anticipated first flight of Boeing’s new aircraft. Then, it quoted Shaffer’s solution to the problem as “We trust our suppliers.”

I don’t know about you, but I started to wonder if it was April Fools Day with the way the article started. Was this an underhanded rip on Boeing?

It turned out to be serious.

Now I am not doubting Schaffer’s capabilities one bit. You don’t get to his position in a company like Boeing without being one of the best, if not the best, at what you do.

And I definitely won’t pretend for one second that I could do a better job than Schaffer. He may just have the most challenging purchasing job in the world and, throughout my career, I certainly have made mistakes along the way.

But isn’t it a bit strange to provide an award to someone in the midst of an unresolved, high-profile performance problem?

To be clear, I’m not saying that the problem was even Schaffer’s fault.

But could it have been? Sure. Here are potential sources of the problem – total speculation:

  1. Boeing’s purchasing provided unreliable supply market data to the planning team that ultimately scheduled the first flight
  2. Boeing’s purchasing wasn’t viewed as important enough to be involved in the development or scheduling
  3. Boeing’s purchasing didn’t investigate the potential of a supply market shortage
  4. Boeing didn’t act quickly enough to assure supply
  5. Countless other potential sources

I would have liked to see Purchasing address whether these items could have contributed to the program delay. I also think that the timing would have been better if the award was given after a problem had been solved, rather than in the midst of it.

What do you think?

Charles Dominick, SPSM
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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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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