Managing/Governing By Spreadsheet

My career at Digital Equipment corporation was just starting out at the time spreadsheets came out for personal computers. They were a big deal during those days. People savvy with figures (finance, accounting) could get results faster and hopefully more accurately.

Then, something else happened. It seems like people began adjusting figures in those spreadsheets and then using the resulting figures to lever how businesses operated especially staffing and projects. Somehow, someone decided that knowing just the figures was the way to go. You did not have to know what stood behind those figures.

Either coupled with or influenced by the spreadsheet mentality came the “Monday morning” advisors who tout you can do that — run a department for example– much cheaper. These advisors usually are long on talk, and run if you ask them to perform a task.

Sadly, people who should not have listened to these advisors did, and as a result, things are the way they are.

We are entering annual election time in our town, and I am hearing those worn out words like plans, budgets and tough choices. Sadly, it seems like there is more pulling the spreadsheet out of a hat than understanding the processes and problems behind the spreadsheets.


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