Thursday, 1 March 2007

Silly Cookies

I am never good at fiction, but allow me to try:

Once upon a time, there was this nice small cookie company that made nice yummy brown peanut cookies. The peanut cookies were very well liked by consumers, who also bought other sorts of cookies. Not every consumer was the same – some liked the crunchy peanut cookies more, some preferred black coffee cookies during certain days and others enjoyed white chocolate cookies more. Most people ate all three types – but at different proportion depending on preference. Everyone was happy – cookies were cookies after all; every flavour was yummy in its own ways and the variety was celebrated.

As time passed however, something went awry. The nice small peanut cookie company became a big peanut cookie company with much power. At first, priority was made to produce better and tastier cookies, by improving the quality of the ingredient and recipe. Unfortunately, the managers of the company started to forget their original intention of making good cookies, but instead were preoccupied with internal politics, wasteful practices and self-glorification. Quality of the yummy peanut cookies deteriorated much and the managers, wanting to make more money to serve their excesses, made more and more peanut cookies at the expense of making the cookies worse and worse. Even then, peanut cookies were extremely hardy and especially yummy. Many of the produced cookies remained nice to eat by consumers. Ultimately however, given the amount produced and the lack of attention for quality, not all were bought by consumers. Store rooms were soon filled with the worst of the produced peanut cookies.

In a delusion assisted by a mixture of ignorance and arrogance, the managers began to search for ways to sell their cookies without changing their operation. Others were blamed, not themselves. First, the biggest and the most evil culprit for their woe were the cookie-loving consumers. They shouldn’t be eating other cookies, making choices based on their preferences. They should not be given freedom to choose what cookies to eat; they should consume all the cookies we produce regardless of their desire, hunger or budget. Then, they went on to blame the Cookie-Fan Welfare Association for not imposing rules on consumers to eat more peanut cookies.

With their monopolistic influence, the peanut company managed to coerce the Cookie-Fan Welfare Association to impose a universal ruling on all cookie-lovers to buy at least a 30% peanut cookies.

The situation soon became worse. For those who still love peanut cookies, things were still alright. But for others, when forced to buy more peanut cookies against their will, they either ate less cookies entirely and changed to ice-cream and others, or buy the peanut cookies and then throw them away just so that they could make the quota. All consumers became worse off. They couldn’t eat their favourite cookies the way they wanted too, and some had to spend more money to buy cookies to throw away just to keep eating cookies.

For the black coffee and white chocolate cookies companies, their sales dropped sharply and some had to close or reduce their businesses. Most however just export their nice cookies overseas where they do not have this silly quota rule. Some just move entirely to another country. Now consumers were made even worse off; no longer could they enjoy a diverse choice of yummy cookies. Many certainly missed the good ol’ times.

For the peanut companies, their delusion was made worse with a temporary increase in sales of peanut cookies through force and regulation. They celebrated their illusion of success and without the pressure to reflect and change, they succumbed further in their decline and produce more bad peanut cookies.

Soon, frustration made many consumers eat less and less cookies. The peanut companies, seeing the decline in sales again, forced more regulations to be passed – 50% quota, 80% quota and so on. More consumers got frustrated; more other companies got driven out of business and left the country. The cookies market shrunk and shrunk.

In the end, there were no more cookie-lovers. No one buy cookies any more. The peanut company finally realised its folly, but it was too late. The managers wished they were back in the beginning before all these happened when they could still avoid this path of decline, but they understood that a second chance was no longer there. All there was to do was to reminisce the old time when things were still good.


(For a more formal take on this, refer to my article The Dodo Nation)


Anonymous said...

ain't i glad that i still have the CNY home-made peanut cookies around..your story sure make me feel a bit hungry pre breakfast time.

this story re-inforce the key point that good management of a company is important and having effective leadership to captain the corporate vision and mission process is a better alternative.

as i read on, i could think of a company which has done comparatively well in an industry of loss making peers. Their strategy was to embark on a low-cost, low-price, no frills concept
to grow the business.

if only the said cookie company had economise on cost all-round instead rather than wasting time infighting and politiking, the story would have a happier and different ending.

there are more points for further discussion.. come to think of it, your story would make a good case study all round :)


Dek Mat said...


Elanor said...

Dek Mat: Tragic comedy? The irony of living in one.