Knowledge From Numbers?And People
Planning comes from people, not spreadsheets. Here's one manager's take on how human interaction can be more important than fancy figures.
In the back of one of my file cabinets is a stack of documents. Every now and again, as the need arises, one or more of these volumes is pulled out, dusted off, and a number, an observation, or some factoid is pulled out for inclusion in some new report I am working on.
What are these works? There's a couple of consultant reports, two major internal task force self studies—one with a rebuttal written by the previous management—a handful of business plans for new equipment acquisition and a half dozen other miscellaneous reports on this or that aspect of the department. The documents represent thousands of hours of work by dozens of people over the past dozen or so years. All in all, the pile of documents is about nine inches tall.
While the books' service as a reference source is invaluable, they have another, even better use that I occasionally put them to: dropping this stack of work on a table or desk and remarking,"Haven't we studied this issue to death?" makes a bold and dramatic statement.
This is not, I'll admit, an original tactic. Seems to me that some years ago there was a congressional inquiry on simplifying the tax code. Some bright staffer suggested that they display a copy of the entire federal tax code so that the good congressmen and women could see for themselves the size of the dragon they were dealing with. If I recall correctly, at some point during the hearings the table groaned, then crashed as it collapsed under the weight of the documents. I don't recall if it was discussed at that time whether the table had been sabotaged; it was a simpler, more trusting, time then.