Cutting The Cost Cake

Sunday, September 25, 2011

We are in now in cost cake cutting times! We are being forced by financial reality to tighten the fiscal belt until our eyeballs water – and then more so.

The cost cake is a mixture of three ingredients – the worthwhile, the necessary, and the rest – the stuff that is worthless and not wanted – the worthless stuff, the unhealthy stuff, the waste.  But it costs just as much per morsel as the rest. And there is a problem – all three ingredients are mixed up together and our weighing scales can not say how much of each is in there – it just tells us the total weight and cost.

If we are forced to cut the cost of the cake we have to cut all three. Our cake gets smaller – not better – which means that we all go a bit hungrier. Or as is more likely – the hand that weilds the knife will cut themselves a full slice and someone else will starve.

Would it not be better if we could separate out the ingredients and see them for what the are – worthy (green), necessary (yellow) and the worthless waste (red) – and then use the knife to slice off the waste?  Then we could mix up what is left and share out a smaller but healthier meal.  We might even re-invest our savings in buying more of the better ingredients and bake ourselves a healthier cake. We would have a choice. 

If we translate this culinary metaphor into the real world then we will see the need for a way of separating and counting the cost of time spent on worthy, necessary and worthless work. If we can do that then we can remove just the worthless stuff and either reduce the cost or  reinvest the resource in something more worthwhile.

The problem we find when we try to do this is that our financial accounting systems do not work this way.

The closed door to a healthier future is staring us in the face – it is barn-door obvious – we just need to design our accounting methods so that they can do what we need them to do.

What are we waiting for?  Let us work together to find a way to open that closed door. It is in all of our interests!