Month: September 2013

Creativity versus Rules

As I was preparing to leave a former position I spent most of my time writing instruction booklets.  I knew that the new incumbent might be newly promoted or new to the business of education.  This person might need a few guidelines. I have never regarded these instructions as rules.  At best they are helpful

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Learning Through Stories (Cocktails Optional)

A lot has been written recently about storytelling as a teaching tool.  We don’t remember facts well, but we do remember stories. In this blog I relate stories of my experiences working at a school district.  I do this because I hope that they are instructive. The danger is that I may inadvertently embarrass a particular

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When to Say No

I recently overheard two employees chatting with their supervisor. “We want to learn Excel” they said. “Can you teach us?”  They do not need to know Excel for the work they do currently.  Much of the time they are doing data entry.  However the next position up the pay scale uses Excel extensively.  The supervisor

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Year End Closing Powerpoint

I have posted a Powerpoint presentation on the Year End Close.  Yes it is one of those presentations with lots of text and no interesting pictures.  However, not all presentations are of the Steve Jobs variety. This presentation is designed for school business professionals new to the year end close process, and it is designed

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Shock Points: Hiring an Analyst Part II

I find that among the ranks of young and eager accounting graduates who enter school district business offices there is a certain percentage who go into shock soon after they first arrive.  Despite our efforts to select someone who is both enthusiastic and capable, these “shock points” are generally in the following areas: Lack of knowledge

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Stealing from Children, Part III

How do they do it? Sometimes the details of crimes are left vague.  Probably the thinking is that if we provide an explanation of exactly how something was done it will be a blue print to thieves for future bad behavior.  I take the opposite view.  People who are bent on stealing already know how to do it. 

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Stealing from Children, Part II

Why do People Steal Think of an excuse, any excuse, that people might give as to why they stole.  It has probably been used. The reasons that thieves use to justify their behavior are really not instructive. In the movie The Big Chill  Jeff Goldblum’s character says: rationalizations are more important than sex. We can go for weeks

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Stealing from Children, Part I

Who Steals? When it comes to stealing, I can share some awful details and they won’t actually reveal where the crime occurred.  Why? Because the details are depressingly similar. But the similarities are not what you think they are.  We are not talking personality types.  There are two pretty consistent themes in school theft: Opportunity (which YOU provide)

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Boxes, In and Out

When the old boss first arrived she reviewed a particular process and said, “Just tell me one thing.  Tell me the reason you aren’t following the accounting manual.”   She elaborated that it is OK to break the rules if you have a well-reasoned argument. It is not OK if you don’t even know what the

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Workarounds

Not too long ago I put this one word sign on my desk:  Workaround? The meaning being that I should constantly ask myself “Is this a workaround?”  If yes, fix the root cause.  Perhaps I am working around a person I don’t trust?  That has to be addressed too. Workarounds arise when you have to

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