Fairly Good Practices


“Maybe we would be better off if we developed a list of ‘fairly good’ practices...”
- Jim Highsmith



Pound Smart, Penny Foolish

"Penny Smart, Pound Foolish" is a phase often heard when describing business spending. It's easy to count the nickles and completely screw up the large stuff. I watched a company upgrade all of their computers and as part of the purchase they replaced all of their perfectly good 19" monitors with new 19" monitors. That same company is much more willing to have their well paid programmers tear apart their mice in an effort to clean out the dust on the roller than they are to but new optical mice (at a cost of under $10 each, less than it costs them to have the programmer clean the mouse.) Quite frankly, this is no way to run a business. It amazes me that a company can pay a person over $75,000 a year and yet doesn't trust them to spend $500 a year to buy the things that would increase their productivity. It amazes me even more that these $75,000 a year employees somehow think that that $500 may not actually be part of their salary in the first place. Do they get paid so little that they can't afford a $10 optical mouse?

That's where everyone has to change, the company and the employees. When a manager abuses an expense account program to stock their personal wine cellar, that's not a problem with the program. That's a problem with the manager. Unfortunately, politics often result in the manager keeping the wine and the guys who come in on the weekend working unpaid overtime being denied a pizza to eat as they work through lunch.

So embrace an attitude of penny foolishness again. Watch the expense, but be honest with yourself when it comes to the nickles and dimes. Is it really cost justifiable to demand five levels of signitures for a $10 optical mouse? Should a $75,000 a year programmer spend 1500 hours a year in an uncomfortable $50 chair? How much does it really cost to make your employees happy and eager to come to work? And what do the results do to your bottom line?