Dilbert and Traditional Accounting

I was perusing some random older Dilbert comic strips and stumbled upon this one.  What a great example of traditional accounting gone wrong.

(Click on image for a larger view)

I couldn’t pass posting this Dilbert cartoon.  How many times as lean change agents do you have work halted or the value not seen because of the way the accounting system calculates standard costing or budgeting?  How many times have you made an improvement that required less people for that area.  The people were reassigned (showing respect for people by not laying off due to improvement), but accounting system claims a labor savings.  At the end of the year, management is asking where is all the savings that was promoted throughout the year?  It’s not hitting the bottom line.

This is always one of my favorites to explain.  How about you?

Posted on October 25, 2010, in Metrics, Misc, Other and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Great way to start off the week, either with Dilbert or Calvin & Hobbes! What I find so interesting about the past/current cost accounting methods, it is the one dinosaur that may make it through the extinction of manufacturing in the USA.

  2. I love the cartoon, Matt. One of the hardest bridges to cross in a lean journey is the accounting paradigm. Very early on in a journey if there is no common understanding reached by Finance and the lean champions this will ALWAYS be a struggle. It was for us where I work. For the first 3 years of our journey I kept feeling this pressure to show big ROI. At one point we wouldn’t even have a lean event unless we could build a case for reasonably good ROI beforehand. Needless to say, this contributed to squashing lean initiatives. No one, not even our lean consultants, brought up the point that lean is mostly about freeing up resources and eliminating waste to deliver value, and doesn’t necessarily deliver big traditional ROI, although it certainly can. It was when I went to lean healthcare training at the U. of Michigan last year when Dave LaHote of the LEI pointed this out. It was very honest and liberating for me. Take a look at John Toussaint’s take on lean and ROI at this link. Good stuff. http://www.leanroi.org/archives/180

  3. Hi Matt,

    The NE Shingo conference drilled home the message that improvement is about easier, better, faster and cheaper…in that order. Shigeo Shingo got it right and yet most C-level executives have the order absolutely backwards. I understand as much as the next person that we have to drive results. However, it’s tough to engage folks if the first and only thing they hear is along the lines of, “Show me the money.”

    • Great point, Mark. I’m glad to hear the NE Shingo conference drilling home easier, better, faster, and cheaper and stressing it is in that order. Too many consulting groups that do lean (this is different than lean people doing consulting) drill home the cheaper part and sell it that way. This can lead to habits that need to be changed in the future and makes it even harder to do.

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