Worried about not being world class? Take Robin Williams’ advice

Paul Snell is managing editor at Supply Management
14 May 2015

Buyers struggling to live up to the example set by ‘world-class’ companies should take comfort from what the procurement director at TDIC calls the ‘Good Will Hunting realisation’.

According to Kieran Dowd, director – global sourcing at the Tourism Development Investment Company in Abu Dhabi, procurement professionals should listen to the advice of Robin Williams’ character in Good Will Hunting that “it's not your fault”.

Dowd said it was a myth that there was one path to best practice that was right for every organisation. And the reality for most companies is they are not at the level suggested on graphs indicating the maturity and evolution of the procurement profession. These don’t take into account the constraints, day-to-day challenges and individual characteristics of organisations.

He told delegates at the CIPS Middle East Conference this week: “I’ve sat where you are many times, and I have seen guys present their slick ideas and processes about how we can make our organisations better, become world class, and apply best practice. And then I realise, ‘hang on a second, I’m not even up to competent yet, I’m still tactical'.

“And this is where after some soul-searching I came up with the Good Will Hunting realisation. Taken from the film, you just need to know ‘it’s not your fault’.

“We deal in constraints. Everything we buy has constraints, whether the stakeholder you are dealing with doesn’t know what they want, the marketplace has a dearth of supply, or local market and labour market conditions impact everything you are trying to buy for.”

He added that striving for best practice is not a bad thing, but there is a danger it can pull you away from aligning with the objectives of your organisation.

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