A Poem to Inspire Lower Management Level Managers

March 15, 2011
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With this blog I am taking a “walk down memory lane.” I provide a poem written by Clive Dupont who is now a retired banker and wrote this poem in the 1990s when he was struggling as a project manager implementing an activity-based cost management system (ABC/M) system.

With this blog I am taking a “walk down memory lane.” I provide a poem written by Clive Dupont who is now a retired banker and wrote this poem in the 1990s when he was struggling as a project manager implementing an activity-based cost management system (ABC/M) system. He was challenged to get buy-in and acceptance from his senior executives and co-workers.

Clive was what I refer to as a “champion.” My observation is that although it is ideal to have executive team sponsorship to drive the adoption of new methods, unfortunately all too often executives are distracted with fire-fighting and internal office politics. It has been passionate champions with a sense of urgency who convince their organizations that new methods, like ABC/M, are essential for long-term sustained survival. Enjoy.

Ode to an ABC Project Team

Once upon a time in Organization-land, not so long ago,
there was heard a cry from the innermost sanctum — the Finance Executive.

“Bring us ABC,” said the voice.

Now, this was quite a revelation as you can imagine. Not surprisingly mutterings were heard:
— “What’s ABC?” cried one.
— “What’s wrong with what we have got?” cried another.
— “Not before it’s time,” grumbled another.

So, a team of intrepid explorers set off to see what they could find.

Many gates were barred to them, by those fearing for their jobs.

Some had heard that this ABC thing identified what resources were used by work activities — and how much they cost.

Along the way, the explorers found a magic cross. [The www.cam-i.org ABC/M Cross]

Finally the team met with the man who had dared to ask for ABC. He had a simple request. On a tablet of stone he had written down that the total costs for the products his organization made were between $ x and $ y.

This information, he said, was not helpful enough to manage affairs. It may not even be accurate, he thought to himself.

Fortunately, the finance and accounting function were somewhat rebellious in their ways, unusual for their breed. They were open-minded to new ways. They asked the explorers to build for them information as the cross instructed.

What was the purpose of this construction?
— it provided a first iteration prototype of ABC
— it was a proof-of-concept of the end-to-end ABC design
— it established initial cost assignment and driver methods
— it determined the quality and availability of data
— it allowed them to play with ABC software
— it quickly delivered results
— it served as a basis for improved next iterations

The explorers were bold. They received no rewards, just the honor of a good deed done.

— (modified from Clive Dupont, Barclays Bank PLC, London)

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If you enjoy this type of humor, read my article Beware Misguided Accountants that that also pokes fun at organizations that are reluctant or skeptical to implement ABC/M.