Negative. Sum. Game.

This is a Negative-Sum Game, People! Have some compassion for the person in charge of the incredible shrinking pie. With a shrinking pie…you should not expect a larger slice of pie than you had last year. And don’t even think about asking for your pie a la mode.

It’s an interesting game…one where the gains and losses of the players add up to less than zero. That’s what happens to budgets when the economy is poopy. A smaller revenue stream leads to fewer expenditures.

Oh…for those who are unaware…I’m taking a brief moment to talk about my job.

Let’s say that you have a shrinking pie…pie eaters…and a pie keeper.

The pie keeper wants to know how big of a slice you (a pie eater) need to satiate your hunger. What’s a good strategy if you’re a pie eater who is aware of the shrinking pie, but unaware of the requests of other pie eaters? When the next pie comes out of the oven, should you ask for the same sized slice you received last time? A slightly smaller piece? Or should you make a case for a substantially larger slice?

All strategies have their merits. As a pie keeper, I particularly enjoy the moxie involved in requesting a larger piece of a smaller pie. These pie eaters must recognize that their fellow eaters are willing to give up a lot for the good of the group. However, sometimes this strategy can backfire and enrage the pie keeper. …and you don’t want to anger the pie keeper. She has a vengeful streak.

Most people who are aware of a shrinking pie, but unaware of the requests of other pie eaters, will ask for the same sized slice they got last time…or even a smaller slice of pie.

Color me surprised.

That makes things easier, doesn’t it?

And what’s the best strategy to employ as a pie keeper?

Talk about the pie a lot. Talk about how small it’s going to be compared to the last pie. Convince the pie eaters that the pie is shrinking at an alarming rate. Talk about how there are starving kids in Africa who don’t even have pie.

If the pie turns out to be teeny tiny…people’s expectations are met. …and if it’s a little bigger than that? Everybody wins. They got bigger slices than they thought they might.

Easy as pie.

This concludes the ridiculousness for the day.


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