All Frosting, No Cake

So I was catching up on my reading while watching most of my football picks choke this morning (some weeks are just like that right?) when I came across this bit of wisdom from Seth Godin:

Essentially he makes the case that the hardware is a pretty case, but it’s software that makes it useful. He’s right and it got me to thinking about an analogy I’ve been using for years.

It goes like this: you work for a boss or an organization that’s only really concerned with the frosting, not the cake. I mean. who doesn’t love a beautiful cake? Then you get it home and cut into it only to discover it’s what my wife and I call a “look at cake.” It’s dry, falling apart and tastes like sawdust. Will you ever go back? Do you feel cheated? Is the credibility of the baker now in question?

Unfortunately this how far too many programs are run. Particularly if the boss is an appointee and doesn’t really have a background doing the job (yes government…I’m looking at you here). When the focus is on the pretty part – the next public event, the next presser, and the next chance to appease the boss’ boss then what you have is an organization that’s all frosting, no cake.

It’s all well and good until somebody really needs the organization to perform. Once they realize that the competence is just a thin veneer of sugar and color everybody loses credibility. And in the case of a public safety organization, people can end up dead.

Don’t get me wrong – I fully understand the need to be visible and perceived as relevant in this world. Just make sure you don’t lose focus and end up frosting a cardboard box.

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