My approach to fiscal policy has traditionally followed a command and control model

I recently watched the election’s first live television debate involving the Chancellor and the two main opposition parties’ Treasury spokesmen around how best to cut the £167bn deficit. It inspired me to tackle my own little budget problem.

The Secret Marketer
The Secret Marketer

At the end of Q1, we are undersold and overspent. I need a clear rescue plan before the group chancellor confiscates my corporate credit card.

My approach to fiscal policy has traditionally followed a command and control model. As chancellor of the marketing department, I always aim to keep sufficient contingency funds at the centre to protect my brand team from constant interference from group treasury. But this year there simply hasn’t been the same level of wriggle room in my budget. The time has come to share my pain and to invite the team to help solve the problem.

I start with a memo to the team asking them to take a fresh look at their budgets for the rest of the year. Having totted up their cost saving proposals, I conclude that more Draconian measures are needed.

I invite the brand managers to face-off in a “please don’t cut my budget” showdown. Each brand manager is given a 15-minute slot to present their 2010 budget to the rest of the team and to identify possible savings. Wherever possible, I encourage them to protect the portion of their budget that will actually get out to the consumer. We need to cut the fat not the rump.

“My approach to fiscal policy has traditionally followed a command and control model.”

After round one of presentations we have quickly saved a good sum of money without too much pain. I go round the table again seeking further donations. Do we need to commission yet another piece of research in the second half of the year? Could they not re-read what we did last year as surely not much can have changed?

Why have we all got £35,000 in our budget for “social marketing”? Does the Christmas party really cost this much? Is this critical spend or can we live without it? If it was their own personal money would they spend it on this? If we cut this activity completely, what’s the worst that can possibly happen?

Before too long we have covered the deficit and then some. I am relieved to have tackled the problem, but also slightly worried by how easily they all coughed up. Perhaps I should take over the finances of the country too.


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