A little ‘scale obsession’ might be good right about now

I got into the office this morning and was promptly greeted by an email from some weight loss web site saying “Stop Scale Obsession!”.

When I saw this email, I had to chuckle. In a couple of weeks, my wife, kids and I are making our annual pilgrimage to Brazil. This is an additional cost of doing your part for immigration :-).


We are taking a box full of stuff – gifts, etc. to the gang down there and this box can’t weigh more than 70 pounds. So I told my wife to just use our scale. It’s broken, was her reply. Ask the neighbours, I said. I did, no one that I know has one – I checked. Call your friends, I said. I did, she said – none of them have a scale either. Now, without exaggerating, I think she contacted at least 9-10 people – none had a scale.

So much for “scale obsession”. It’s pretty hard to be obsessed with using a scale if you don’t have one.

I thought this was a good metaphor for New Brunswick right now. We have no good benchmarks to obsess about. We have a self sufficiency objective with a 20+ year time horizon but, like all my wife’s acquaintenances, we would rather ‘not know’ than measure our weight every few weeks.

I hope that Brian Dick sets targets associated with milestones along the way to self sufficiency. And not in Prosperity Plan style targets which were meaningless (remember the one about being third in Canada for R&D? – We’re still last) but indicators of progress followed by an explanation of what went right – and critically – what went wrong – I say again – what went wrong – on an annual basis.

The annual Prosperity Plan update (I kept a copy for posterity) was an amazing exercise in subterfuge – teasing out a few good news stats while completely ignoring the tidal wave of population decline, the inability of own source revenue to keep up with the cost of government, the decline in key industries, etc.

I would like to see an annual report that dedicated 30 pages or so to what went wrong. “We overestimated our ability to…..”, “We didn’t allocated enough funds to….”, “We had a shot at project X but were not able to put the funds together….”, etc. And I would send this document to the public every year (just like the Prosperity Plan subterfuge). After they are bowled over with the honesty of it all, they will start to get a sense of just how hard turning around New Brunswick really will be. And maybe they will start to really understand the implications of what ‘massive change’ really means.

I realize that it is counter intuitive to politicians and spin doctors to tell it like it is. But they just might be shocked into action.

Kinda like those gals without the scales. If some of them actually went out and bought one (and used it), they might see the need to trim a few pounds. Some of them, like New Brunswick, may need more drastic action.

But avoiding the scale altogether (or reading it wrong like some have been known to do), gets you no where in the end.