Test Your ABM “Marriage”
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17 August 2013 - 22:53, by , in Activity-Based Cost Management, No comments

How strong is your marriage?
This thought provoking question was the focus of an article in the April 19, 1999 issue of NEWSWEEK. The magazine published a quiz prepared by John Gottman that tests the strength of a marriage. To take the test, you respond “True” or “False” to each of the following ten statements:

  • I can name my spouse’s best friends.
  • I can tell you what stresses my spouse is currently facing.
  • I can tell you some of my spouse’s life dreams.
  • I know the names of some of the people who have been irritating my spouse lately.
  • I can tell you about my spouse’s basic philosophy of life.
  • We love talking to each other.
  • There is fire and passion in our relationship.
  • At the end of the day my spouse is glad to see me.
  • My spouse is one of my best friends.
  • My spouse is usually a great help as a problem solver.

Give yourself one point for each true answer. If you scored above 6 or more, Mr. Gottman predicts that you have the makings for a strong marriage. If 5 or below, your relationship could stand some improvement and would benefit from some work on the basics, such as improving communication.

How strong is your marriage to Activity Based Management (ABM)? 
Are you and your organization madly in love with ABM or close to a divorce? Answer each of the following ten statements with a “True” or “False”:

  • My organization has sustained regular ABM reporting for more than twelve months.
  • I can explain the basic principles of ABM in three minutes or less to a non-financial person.
  • I can name at least two significant benefits my organization has achieved in the past year using ABM.
  • I can name our most profitable and unprofitable product, service and customer exposed by Activity Based Cost (ABC) analysis.
  • I know the improvement target for my activities and the continuous improvement steps to achieve that target.
  • I can name the customers of the outputs of my department’s activities.
  • I can name at least one person that I have mentored and passed along my ABM knowledge and experience.
  • I own at least two books on ABM or ABC.
  • I know how to do Activity Based Budgeting.
  • I know and talk regularly with at least one other person outside my company who has an ABM system.

Give yourself one point for each true answer. If you scored 6 or more, I predict that you and ABM have the makings for a strong marriage. If 5 or less, your relationship could stand some improvement and would benefit from some work on the basics.

My wonderful wife of 30+ years reminded me last year that husband is both a noun and a verb. I am a husband (noun). But to be called a husband, I must husband (verb), e.g. perform activities that are the responsibility of the husband. Tony Evans says in his book NO MORE EXCUSES that when the average man is asked, “Do you know the responsibilities of a husband?”, they respond “I don’t know” or will give an answer that reveals they don’t know. You must know (noun) before you can do (verb). The same issues apply to Activity Based Management.

As discussed in my book PRYOR CONVICTIONS, ABM is also a noun and a verb. ABM is not just a system or body of knowledge (noun). ABM is also a verb e.g. perform activities, implement improvements, make decisions. The ten ABM questions listed above are a test to determine if ABM is both a noun and verb in your organization. To have a strong marriage, it takes both a noun and a verb. Know it and do it.

As it has been often said about marriage, “Two heads are better than one.” Or as President Woodrow Wilson said, “I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow.”  To strengthen ABM and its benefits in your organization this year, add some brains. Consider some targeted ABM training to fill knowledge voids or specific requests from ABM system users. Expand the breadth and depth of ABM in your organization. Or maybe some onsite ABM coaching from a seasoned and successful ABM consultant would be a logical next step. And don’t forget that over forty books on ABM principles, uses, case studies and techniques are available to increase your knowledge and imagination.

Don’t settle for less than “10” in marriage or ABM. Take steps beginning today to improve your marriage and make ABM a lifelong partner.

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Tom Pryor
TomPryor@ICMS.net
(817) 475-2945

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