Friday, February 3, 2012

A bushel of magic beans

Sometimes I think of my daily occupation as counting magic beans.

Farmhands harvest the beans, and bring them into the silo peck by peck, where they are combined to count into bushels.

It's my job to add the number of beans in the bushels and let the owner of our bean farm know how many beans we've harvested each year.

The other day I was asked to prepare a document summarizing the year-to-date take of beans. The head farmhand provided me with a tally of how many beans were in each peck basket delivered each day. By adding up those numbers, I could find out how many beans were in each day's bushel. So I prepared a spreadsheet showing the number of beans harvested each day, and totaling them up.

There was a lot of accompanying data I was asked to track - which peck basket came from which bean-field? What was the total yield of each bean-field? What was a monthly yield? and various other questions.

Then everyone began to nitpick. Were all the beans brought in? Were the baskets completely emptied? Were some north bean-field beans put in a south bean-field basket? Please do another count.

And so I was given another tally of how many beans were in each peck basket delivered each day.  I had to add up all the numbers again to compute each day's bean harvest.

It took me several hours, but I updated the document and finally presented it to the Farm Owner for his satisfaction.

The total number was exactly the same as before. Yes - even though I had to completely re-count all the beans we harvested this year and combine them in different aggregate groups of beans, the final report I presented read exactly the same as it had the first time.

Calorie-free magical beans!


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

May I recommend a related story, Aunt Snow?

M. Bouffant said...

The management mind-set at work. I'm surprised anything ever gets done anywhere ever at all.

kcinnova said...

well OF COURSE they were the same!
(shakes head sadly)