We are delighted to welcome this post from our friend and former colleague Peter Smith on the launch day of his new book.
When I stepped back after eight great years of running Spend Matters Europe, at the end of 2018, I had a few items on my “to do” list. More cycling (achieved), become vaguely competent on the bass guitar (debatable), more golf (failed miserably) and stay engaged in the procurement world, largely through “writing some books.”
A Procurement Compendium, self-published last year, was a bit of a cheat, as 95% of the words in it were articles from Spend Matters, but the genuine fruits of my recent labours become public today, with the publication of Bad Buying — How Organisations Waste Billions Through Failures, Frauds, and F*ck-ups.
Going back to when I signed the contract for the book a year ago, I envisaged this being a lovely publication day. I’d spend the morning wandering around a few WH Smiths at the London stations and Waterstones, Hatchards and Foyles in central London to check it was on display. Maybe even a bookshop signing session, although Penguin did tell me gently that they weren’t sure it was likely to quite justify that!
Then a nice lunch with my publisher, leading into the highlight of the day — an after-work party for friends and leaders of the procurement world in The Clarence pub in Whitehall. Maybe combine that with a Pub Debate (as in the good old Spend Matters days!)
I also wrote the book with a particular vision in mind — a manager, of any level, or a civil servant maybe, seeing the book at the station or airport, picking it up and thinking “this looks interesting — and enjoyable too.” A week and 300 pages later, they would understand a whole lot more about procurement, without feeling that they had read a textbook.
Well, let’s hope that sometime next year we get back to those being credible scenarios, but for now, I might make it to a quiet pub with my wife today, but no party (sorry) and book promotion is through social media and maybe a bit of mainstream media if I’m lucky. As such, I’m really very grateful for those who have published my articles, everyone who has supported any of my LinkedIn posts, tweets, the Bad Buying website, podcast, the Spotify Bad Buying playlist, etc! I’ve virtually become a marketing person, I’m shocked to say. But seriously, many thanks.
This is phase four of my career, after line management, consulting and running Spend Matters Europe. To finish on a philosophical note, I think the advice I would give in terms of getting older and perhaps looking at career changes is to keep an open mind and try to be receptive to new people and ideas.
Many people get more fixed in their views as they age. I can honestly say I’ve gone the other way. I can see both sides of arguments on many topics where I used to have really strong views, from fox-hunting to Margaret Thatcher. I vote for different parties at every election, it seems. And I’m still fascinated about ideas and issues in the procurement world, from supplier diversity to the implications of US/China trade wars.
It is the same with technology. When I was a young purchasing manager, some of the older hands saw the first P2P systems as something that would never catch on (to be fair, they were pretty rubbish!). It’s easy to slip into that sort of view, or to think that you’ve seen it all before. But once you pass 50, I think it’s healthy to try consciously not to slip into negative thinking. Particularly at the moment, we have to stay positive, however tough that is, and actually the amazing advances in tech of all sorts does give reason for hope.
That’s enough of the deep stuff for today — but thanks again to everyone who has ordered the book. And check out the links to ‘Bad Buying’ here if you’re still hesitating!