Shelly Palmer – Middle Management Errors Vendors Love

Great set of lessons along the age old line of finding solutions rather than buying product.

On specifications, I returned to Africa to work in the Rwanda Genocide crisis of 1994, millions of people displaced freezing in rain and at high altitude. I was setting up the supply chain to get people food, health and shelter (water was through others). Having received shipments of second hand clothes I wrote a missive to London HQ, Save the Children, asking for more warm babies’ and infants’ clothes. My boss called me in – ok, good intention Crook. Now specify. Heights, weights, gender, wet or dry weather? What about their feet? Their heads? Do they wear hats? On he went making me realise the devil is in the detail of what we were trying to achieve.

I received a shipment of knitted blankets shortly after – they fell apart in the weather. When back in the UK I was asked on to the BBC to talk about things and at the same time give effusive praise for Save the Children supporters who saw pictures on the screens and thought knitting the blankets was the way to go. I learned again the joys of balancing people shouting expletives with those who felt a moral obligation to do something without truly being able to understand the intentions.