the all-seeingeyeThe Tyranny of the Spreadsheet

Years in a large institution have made me somewhat cynical about the processes involved in decision-making. What I have noticed in recent years is an increasing dependence on formulaic decision-making. People are more and more often relying on answers generated by the summary cells in spreadsheets. Undeniably, there are cases where this is just what is called for. These cases, however, are only those whose variables are clear-cut and reasonably objective. There is a difference between a question about, say, office supplies, and, for example, a mission statement. I have found myself confronted with an administrator who can provide an infinitely detailed and reasoned budget, but is completely mute when asked what the budget is supposed to accomplish. Lest you think I'm pinning down the wrong person for that sort of information, it's pretty generally true that a company or institution where everybody knows why they exist is a lot better run.