Peter Smith’s Bad Buying Podcast Episode 3 – Stupidity, Avocados and a Book Launch

Peter looks at how “stupidity” is a common driver of Bad Buying, and shares the experience of his book being published – and reviewed in the Times. He also looks at the human rights issues around avocado growing in Kenya and the supply chain for fresh produce, and the link between Bad Buying and “Procurement with Purpose”. 

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2 replies
  1. Richard Woods
    Richard Woods says:

    I’ve just been listening to you on the Jeremy Vine show about your book ‘Bad Buying’ and you mentioned an example where NASA were supposed to have spent millions on a zero gravity pen to use in space, when a simple pencil would have done the job. However if you had done a bit of simple searching first you would have found out this story is simply NOT TRUE! Here is a link from the ‘Scientific American’ magazine from 2006 which shows this story is just a myth and the link is:

    • Peter Smith
      Peter Smith says:

      Apologies, I thought I had approved your comment and replied days ago but we had a site “crash” this week and I think both disappeared. Yes, I am now aware that there is clearly some debate about whether the story is true or apochcryphal! However, I wasnt getting at NASA or crticising the public sector in using that story – I know Mr Vine kicked off the interview focusing on the public sector, his choice not mine, but the book has loads of private sector examples of fraud and failures too! anwyay if you read the book, the pen story is used to illustrate the importance of focusing your specification on the performance, outcomes, or outputs of what you are buying, rather than the technical details. another example – do you buy an expensive lawnmower or hire someone to come and do the lawn three times a year? what is the outcome you want? you should look at the options beofre you decide on a partcular model of lawnmower. As such, I think the pen is a really useful and amusing story and whether it is true or not it illustrates the point well I think. I will however add a reference if we do a re-print or second edition to say “this may be apochryphal”! hope you do read the full book anyway and enjoy it of course. Peter


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