Communication is Sometimes Partial

Five week delivery parts needed in three…

This story comes from many years in the past when I was still working full time designing and building control systems for a specialty machine builder.

There was some change or some development or some early mistake that was uncovered in the development process. There was time to recover but only with swift action by a couple of us engineering types.

We put our heads together and found a solution. Information about parts required was conveyed to the purchasing folks that we understood it would tight but please buy the parts “Super Hurry Rush!” As luck would have it, a new crisis arose to divert management’s attention and the engineering staff focused on the smoldering embers before they attracted enough oxygen to become an inferno. These were heady days in the engineering group. We were busy. We forgot to tell the purchasing folks to get back to us if the delivery could not be met so that we could prepare for the ensuing dilemma and become as the ether and hide from the managerial wrath.

About two weeks went by and we refocused on the previous crisis. I finally got around to following up on the parts needed. The build shop had kept open a place to mount the special equipment needed for the solution. Calling the purchasing manager revealed that the parts had not been ordered when requested. As it was explained at the time, the shortest delivery was five weeks and we had requested a three week delivery. Unbeknownst to engineering, purchase of the parts had stopped to wait for engineering to decide if it wanted to still buy the parts even though there would be a known two week deficit in the shipping schedule.

Alas there was now, at best, a four week deficit. Communication was not as succinct as it could have been.

The takeaway is follow up even if you are too busy to check on things. Follow up before the deficits become disasters. Re-order the medications promptly. Make sure there is enough toilet paper inventory. Plan but be aware God is laughing.

Live life and learn from it.