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We have all, at one time or another, purchased a bottle of Suave shampoo. If not, I’m guessing that you’ve purchased some equally inexpensive, econo-sized bottle of hair cleaning product. It struck me this morning as I opened up a new bottle of Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific in the shower that our shampoo usage mirrors the workflow during these economic times.

How so? Well, if you have a minute to read you can smell my floral-smelling brain in action.

When I (and I consider myself an ‘everyman’) open a new bottle of shampoo, that overly-full bottle just begs me to give my scalp a good washing. Because of that, I pour out an over-sized portion of shampoo into my hand. Sure, I can blame it on the bottle being too full or my zealousness on wanting to be cleaner than clean, but the fact of the matter is, I pour enough in my hand to wash an army of baboons. Why? Because, I CAN! I have a full bottle so why wouldn’t I splurge on my cleanliness?

After the initial new-bottle sensation wears off a few showers later, I decrease from a Lake Erie sized pool of shampoo. Gradually I reduce to a Silver Dollar dollop, then to a quarter-sized squeeze and then all the way down to the recommended dime sized drop of shampoo. By that time the bottle is now about 3/4 empty and I have a solid week or two of showers in this way.

But then, I realize that the end is near and that my bottle of shampoo is about to be drained empty. The first shower I’ll try to ignore the fact and just tip the bottle upside-down while I wash until there is enough in the cap to perform the task of washing a Homer Simpson comb over.

The next shower is the first real panic moment when I realize that I haven’t gone to the store for more shampoo and I have nothing left in the bottle but hope and the remnants of a scent that tell me how good that stuff was when I had it. “WHY? Why wasn’t I more frugal when I had more?” I question myself. I flash back to when I had a full bottle and imagine my past-self just squeezing the whole thing down the drain while laughing maniacally at my present self. Lightning strikes and I am back in the present filling the bottle of shampoo with the hot water from the shower and shaking the bottle to get one more treatment before I have to go get more shampoo at the store.

The next time in the shower, I pick up the shampoo bottle and have a nano-second of contentment thinking that I have gone to the store already and purchased a full bottle of shampoo. However, that glee is quickly replaced by shame as I search through my memory rolodex to see that there was no trip to the store since my last shower. The sobering reality is that there is now ice-cold, faint-scented water in the bottle and I will need to use this or nothing else to primp my dome today. I release the sting of frozen fireants upon my bald spot as I pour the bottle directly on my head. There is no sense of pouring it into my hand as I know their is no lather to work up and that any other transfer of this 97% water mixture than direct contact will result in me loosing precious clean molecules.

The next shower, I steal my wife’s shampoo for curly hair and wind up walking around like Art Garfunkel all day.

As stated earlier in this article, I marveled that my shampoo usage mirrors the workflow during these economic times. When a client gets their new budgets for the quarter or the year, they are rife with new work, briefs and proposals for us to bid on. It is like PM’s and AE’s just came from Costco (Sam’s Club for you East Coasters) with a palette of Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special and a hankerin’ to do some hair washin’

Soon after though, the work still needs done, but the budget is like a 1/4 filled shampoo bottle. No matter how much we ask, plead or beg, you can only think that shampoo down so many times until it is just ice-cold water. Asking clients to ration is never an answer as shampoo can always spill (budgets cut), be used by guests (supervisor uses budget for boondoggle) or just be left at the gym (layoffs).

So what do you do to ensure that you have enough shampoo to remain clean all year round? Well, my dad always told me never ask a bald guy where he gets his hair cut…my guess is the same goes for washing too.

“How do Howie do that hair washin’?”

Well, if I extend this metaphor out to its conclusion I would say this is how I’ve resolved my shampoo problem in recent weeks. I have put shampoo on my list every time I go to the store. If I need a loaf of bread, stick of butter and a container of milk, I always add shampoo to the list. That way I am always cognizant of my shampoo level each time I go in the shower.

Same is true with budgets. Every new project should be considered like a trip to the store and your budget is the shampoo. If you are in a meeting that adds new projects, scope or timeline, make sure your budget is compensated. Did IT come up with a new plan of simplifying something for your department you didn’t need simplified? Well, better make sure that budget is compensated for training. It is better to have your budget full and a shower full of shampoo than to have to pour that ice-cold water on your head and miss a marketing opportunity.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to squeeze the last remaining angstrom of toothpaste out of the tube so I can brush my teeth. I’ll save that for my next lecture entitled, “Tootpaste and stretching budgets: Maximizing minty freshness all quarter long.