The Start of Summer: Soldier Field 10, G&Ts and Reverse Auctions

I’m running a 10-mile race tomorrow, hoping to dash to a personal best (“PR” among the racing obsessed) during the Soldier Field 10. For those in Chicago, this race is truly awesome. Not only is it not over-crowded (a field of just over 10,000 or so, and you pick up your race packet at a running store, not the massive McCormick conference center) you start next to Soldier Field, and you actually finish on the fifty yard line. And you honor the memory of those who served (and for which the stadium is named after) before the starting gun goes off.

The 10-mile distance also takes a spot in my heart as the absolutely best running distance. Not too short to be overly painful like a 5K or 10K at speed, not too long as to require inordinate amounts of training, and just sufficient enough to feel like you’ve actually accomplished something - earning the calories in the drinks and dinner to follow later in the day.

The race takes place on Saturday, which is, of course, is the first day in a three-day weekend for those in the United States – the traditional opener to summer, or Memorial Day Weekend (check back on Spend Matters on Monday for a history of Memorial Day and some procurement tie-ins around it). This of course makes the timing perfect for a weekend of family cookouts and the drinks that accompany it.

One of these beverages, at least for me, is the gin and tonic (or G&T as it is known among the spirit intelligentsia), a drink whose season is short-lived. If you follow the Preppy Handbook mentality, the G&T is only appropriate between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The good news: it’s easy to remember when to drink it and when not. If linen, seersucker, madras, poplin, and other fabrics are on display, you’re safe. Otherwise, it’s best to avoid, if you care about these traditional things that seem to increasingly be cast off by younger generations.

For traditionalists, this is certainly a short drinking season for a beverage whose lineage is most often associated with the Roaring 20’s. But the G&T has both a special lineage and a modern future (see the NYT article yesterday on interesting adaptations). Sip up while you can in the summer months. It’s not as healthy as a bitter IPA or mysteriously dark red (think Madiran, Chateau Montus is a personal favorite) in moderation. But this is the summer after all.

Taking a procurement twist, I see many similarities between my own drinking history and reverse auctions. The G&T was such a welcome break from the bad beer served at college parties when I first discovered it. So too was the reverse auction – a well run and orchestrated reverse auction, like the kind we pioneered at FreeMarkets – from old sourcing approaches based on incomplete information gathering steps and RFI processes and offline negotiations. But use either too much and you’re bound to get tipsy – or topple your influence in the organization beyond just serving as a price hammer.

Perhaps for more sophisticated procurement organizations that have moved on from the reverse auction as standard protocol to only one negotiation implement in the strategic sourcing tool belt, summer represents an ideal moment to go out and proactively rediscover some useful places to apply it. Tail-spend, anyone?

After all, even as we become more sophisticated and tune in with the subtleties of supply markets – and drink – there are times to revisit former standards, such as the G&T and basic (and even multi-attribute) reverse auctions, coupled with truly nailed lot structures, among other elements.

Just don’t mention (or hand me) either on the fifty-yard line tomorrow.

I’d like to wish all of our readers a Happy Memorial Day weekend. And please take the time to remember all of those who fought to preserve your freedom and liberties. We live in a great place and many died to make it so. We owe them a lasting debt that is far more important than an excuse to put some steaks on the grill and welcome the better weather. 

Voices (3)

  1. Ben Koberna:

    There is only one appropriate method of reverse auctions for government. We have been handling the reverse auction programs for City of Los Angeles and City of Chicago for the last two years. We worked with Cook County for a year (20 million in events awarded, 20% savings to benchmark) and strangely Cook County’s reverse auction statutes required us to show all vendor bids at all time. Chicago and LA do not require that and we believe that the only appropriate government reverse auction methodology is rank-only. Easy to figure out why, the amount of times Cook County or Chicago has to disqualify vendors for incomplete bid packages or failure to comply with MBE/WBE statutes is high. If you aren’t running rank-only you can’t rely on your 2nd and 3rd place vendors to keep competing when they see they can’t hit first place. Chicago and LA are experiencing huge savings across a lot of categories, Cook County is at a standstill, mired in vendor complaints and second place price issues. RAs are relatively new to big governments, that means that all of the early RA success has yet to be had by governments, lets run them right.

  2. Jason Busch:

    Thanks, Kim! I can’t believe how many people reached out today about this — including a bunch of folks I had no idea who are running it too! Have a great Memorial Day weekend. – Jason

  3. Kim L:

    Good luck tomorrow!

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