If your business depends upon beans, you need somebody to count them. Unfortunately, it often turns out to be one of these guys…

The Hoarder

A close relative of the overprotective librarian (who lives to protect the books from people who might otherwise read them), the hoarder likes beans. He just doesn’t know what they’re for, so he keeps them away from anybody who might use them to get anything done. Look for great cashflow and no customers.

The Coward

He doesn’t understand risk, but he knows he doesn’t like it. He only risks beans on things which seem totally safe, which, to mix metaphors for a moment, puts all the eggs a single basket of uncertain structural integrity. Look for a shrinking company doing the same thing for years.

The Logical Positivist

Everything is measured in beans. If something cannot be measured in beans, it does not exist. The less something looks like a bean, the less it exists. “Goodwill,” “loyalty,” and “reputation for excellence” do not look like beans, and this is why you have no customers.

The Micromanager

A subspecies of logical positivist, the Micromanager spends a lot of beans on your expertise, but your expertise doesn’t look enough like beans for him to have any faith in it. As a result, you’re not allowed to use any beans until you’ve explained the basis for every assumption about what will happen to them. Easily spotted by their call, which sounds a lot like “What is the basis for this projection”. Be warned: “because I have been doing this for fifteen years” is not an acceptable answer.

The Magician

Understands you can spend beans on things with intangible benefits, but calculates the relative merit of these by a secret formula known only to himself. Easily spotted by a superficially data-led decision-making process resulting in the wildly inconsistent allocation of beans.

The Second-Generation Bean Counter

His expertise in beancounting derives largely from having been born with a lot of beans. His parents spent a lot of beans teaching him how to make more beans, and his facility with the enumeration of pulses makes him conspicuously comfortable in the presence of similarly bean-rich, talent-poor individuals. Has been entrusted by the company to look after its beans despite a lack of any discernible flair for the job.

The Professional

Has a masters in Bean Administration, which makes his decision-making ability far superior to yours. Doesn’t know the first thing about what you’re making, but has a lot of ideas about how it should be done, all of them bad.


The Mockingbean

Has studied the speech patterns of the beancounter and reproduces a superficially similar call. Cannot count and does not know what a bean is, relying instead on a tarot-like interpretation of statistics. The leader of his own mathematical cargo-cult, he shows you a lot of graphs in meetings, but responds to questions about elementary statistical techniques with a look of rising panic because this is not in the script. Found in very stable environments where systems rarely change, and in high-growth environments where total innumeracy is temporarily masked by a general upwards trend.

The Machiavelli

You might think the beans belong to the company, but right now these are my beans, and you’re not getting any of them until I get an absurdly optimistic projection I can dangle over you in perpetuity.

The Randian Sociopath

Don’t come crying to me. If you were working harder, you would have more beans.

The Jobsworth

Only counts a very specific subset of beans. All other beans are somebody else’s problem. The jobsworth will escape blame for the collapse of the company because nobody specifically asked him to keep an eye on the peas or lentils.

The Consultant

The most dangerous member of the genus, the Consultant is part scavenger, part ambush-predator. Eats a lot of beans while telling you how to count them. His call “One for you, one for me” sounds pretty equitable until you remember they were your beans in the first place.


One Comment

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  1. Steve Wehmhoff #
    July 26, 2016

    As the late, great Stan Cornyn said in his book on Warner Music: “The suits won”.

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