How to eat a cupcake 

If you ever want to make me smile, cakes are a pretty safe bet[1]. And in the office last week, I arrived back from a meeting to find cupcakes available for consumption (chocolate with raspberry coulis and buttercream icing, if you are interested).

My first action after selecting a cupcake was to rip off the bottom half and put it on top of the icing. Why do this I hear you ask. Well, it ensures a consistent distribution of cake and icing – a cake sandwich if you like, with icing as the filling. And by restructuring the cake, you don’t end up with the difficult task of ensuring that sufficient icing is available for the entire cupcake.

(I’m probably taking this all a little too seriously now, aren’t I?)

But honestly, this small action was a game changer in the office. I was forced[2] to demonstrate this with a second cupcake, and I am sure that the next time cupcakes turn up in the office (hint hint), there will be widespread change in the way cakes are consumed.

So, what’s this got to do with information management?

Well, it got me thinking. What could we improve, within existing resources, just by changing what we do? We often look to add systems or processes to improve our information management practices, but sometimes, the solutions are right in front of us waiting to be discovered.

In my example, there was no need for anything extra to be added to the cupcake. Small tweaks to information management practices can deliver substantial benefits. Are your defaults set to the most commonly used value? Can you reorder processes to make them more effective? These low cost, highly visible improvements can help make the case for information management (or more cake) without the need for costly programs or projects.

Of course, these types of improvements aren’t always easy to uncover. Once you’ve learned a particular way of doing something that’s working well, we tend to become blinkered to other methods. Often, it’s not the information management team that generates this style of improvements. Instead it’s service delivery staff who uncover them, as they apply new processes in their daily activities. It’s another argument for multi-disciplinary teams, as diversity leads to increased creativity, productivity and job satisfaction.

Will you be changing how you eat cupcakes, and how you refine information management practices, from now on?


[1] Except for carrot cake. I’m not a fan. The icing is ok, but the carrot … not so much.

[2] Asked is probably more accurate.

Dr Vanessa Douglas-Savage

Consulting Director