“The introduction of Chapter 7 really got me thinking about taking the ‘first step’ and how without taking the first step to success, the future will never become a reality. I related this to myself, and how after many contemplations I decided to begin a university degree to better ‘knowledge myself’ and for a better future. It made me think about how glad I am to have decided to take that first step and apply at CQU and how it has changed my life for the better. I can see how important first steps are for managers and their decisions in a firm, just like my first step at CQU; for without that first step it would still just be a dream.”
“Honestly, I feel a little bit down in mood to do the steps related to reflection. I think I’m not the kind of person who enjoys reading as a hobby, since I always fall asleep even when I just read one or two pages. However, I have to admit that reading, and understanding deeply about each chapter in the Study Guide is the most essential step if you want to go further in the accounting journey. That’s why I try to regain my energetic mood, and motivation by eating some chocolates before embarking on chapter 7: Budget for the short term”.
“Before I even get into reading the chapter, just by reading the title I’m already enthusiastic to read this one. Budgeting is something I am very passionate about, love seeing where my money goes. I have big dreams like anyone else and money is usually the foundation to get there. My family thinks I’m weird because I have a full Excel spreadsheet dedicated to my budget with multiple tabs outlining every small detail you could think of, but hey, I am a business student.”
“I feel like KCQ’s are my ‘break’ moment in accounting. They give me time to reflect on what we are learning and it’s completely okay if I don’t understand what it means because we all have that at some point in this unit.”
Thank you to everyone who has submitted your ASS#2 Step 5.
I have been having a great time reading what you have to say, after you read Chapter 7 of the Study Guide. And I expect there will shortly be some great ASS#2 Step 5 Exemplars in the Feedbck section on the right-hand side of Moodle.
We mark each Step on the readings progressively harder (as people get more of an idea about how to write their Key Concepts and Questions: KCQs). As a result, although the standard of your Step 5 was generally quite a bit higher than for your Step 2, the average mark so far is similar, being slightly less than 3.5/5.
“There were times when I actually ‘caught’ myself reading it as Martin wanted me to… as though it was a book, rather than something I was supposed to be consciously taking in and making notes about 😊.”
Most people now have the idea of not simply writing a summary of other people’s ideas (such as those of the author of the reading); but instead, also giving our own responses and opinions to the key concepts in the reading, as we seek to develop our own understanding and personal meaning of these concepts:
An area many people could focus on in their ASS#2 Step 6, is to clearly and carefully describe in your own words some of the key concepts, using examples from your prior knowledge and previous experience to illustrate your understanding. Then, you can focus on communicating to me your opinions and responses to some of the key concepts, supporting your opinions with evidence and reasons from your prior knowledge and previous experience:
“When reading the study guide, my mind is constantly trying to relate what is being read against something in my own experience. This helps with determining what I do and don’t understand from it.”
Most people said they have had some personal experience with budgets, which may often not have been all that favourable. And this is with budgets not just in the workplace but also in our personal lives. And as we progress through term, people are often saying that more is starting to make sense to them, including perhaps what they are experiencing with budgeting in their workplace:
“It is amazing … how much I have learned. The unit is definitely hands on, although I know I have a long way to go. Just look at the budget for [my] department, I am able to understand a lot more … than prior to doing the unit. Basically, prior to the unit nearly everything seemed double Dutch to me…”
There were a wide range of comments and responses expressed about the potential benefits of using budgets, particularly with how budgets could be used to motivate us.
Quite a few people showed signs of developing intrinsic motivation in their ASS#2 Step 5, as they found they enjoyed reading the chapter on budgeting; as most of us have some practical experience of using budgets at work or in our lives. Intrinsic motivation in the assessed learning tasks is one of the foundations for being able to do some real learning about accounting in our unit (or, indeed, when learning about anything):
“Overall this chapter has surprised me … I initially thought that it will be a boring chapter, however it is like a roller coaster ride, there [are] moment[s] of excitement and anticipation, but in the end, it is so much fun.”
So much fun … can learning be fun? Can learning about accounting be fun?
“While the thought of enjoying accounting is still way off, I love that I’m learning about new things, and that’s what it’s all about!”
Quite a number of people have also commented on aspects of their learning in the unit in their ASS#2 Step 5. Some people have commented that they have learnt some useful lessons on ‘how to learn’, including being proactive (rather than passive) learners. Also, quite a few people have commented that they have enjoyed how the unit has been run, which may have been different to how they felt at the beginning of our unit.
Although some have found it to be frustrating, others have greatly benefited from the experience of learning in a ‘different way’ to simply ‘rote-learning’ material with limited personal understanding.
Indeed, quite a few people have described new developing insights about aspects of accounting that they are discovering:
“It was not until the end of the first page that I really got the gist of what this chapter was going to be about. The chapter is about effective communication and how managers can communicate their plans for the firm by using such things as budgets to make sure that the objective of the firm is conveyed to their co-workers properly.”
“I came to realise that a Master Budget is not just one budget for the whole company but consists of a variety of small budgets for individual departments that require the managers to manage and ensure they meet…”
Others have commented about the illustrations and have thought further about the concepts the illustrations were being used to describe:
“When reading the illustration about the baggage, I wondered why it was relevant to budgets. But then I related it to planning. A manager’s job is not only to set a whole bunch of objectives and delegate them accordingly, but also they need to be really careful about what specific goals and targets they are setting. SMART goals come to mind when I think of this; it was something I learnt in my STEPS course.”
Others have been developing further insights about the usefulness and effectiveness of accounting:
“If I’ve learnt something … it’s that Accounting really is used in everyday life and is essential to guide, monitor and regulate every business.”
Also, some people in our unit have been communicating a developing motivation to learn about accounting in our unit, which helps them make the mental effort to understand some of the key concepts we are studying; and as they understand more, this in turn helps their motivation:
“After now completing several weeks of study on accounting, I feel as though I am finding it easier gradually to learn and understand the key concepts of each chapter. Therefore I find myself having a new found motivation to further my studies in accounting as I slowly but surely begin to understand it is fundamental to success in the world of business.”
Most people found the reading on budgeting to be ‘easier going’ than previous chapters (easier to read and easier to understand or make some sense of) often because many people had some experience of budgets in their work or personal lives:
“On a personal level, I love to budget and it has to be one of my favourite things to do. I enjoy budgeting as it provides me with financial security and an understanding of where I am spending my money, how much I am making and where I am wasting my money. You could even say I might even be a little obsessed with my entire budgeting process and numerous times I have had my girlfriend nagging me to put down the pen and paper and just live a little “free-er”.
Although you should be careful you do not take applying these ideas ‘too far’ into your personal lives, as it could lead to some trouble 🙂 :
“I love Martin’s portrayal of organising a budget as taking a “small step” which eventually adds up to taking you on the journey of a life time and might be even a motto I steal next time to explain to my girlfriend why I am so pedantic about my budgeting.”
Quite a few people expressed surprise that budgeting was more than just some numbers, but that there was a purpose behind budgets to seek to influence people and achieve outcomes for a business:
“I had the idea that budgets were simply a monetary value placed on individuals or groups that showed them the dollar figure they were to complete their job role within. I had [not] given thought about how applying a budget can actually influence those involved, through motivating them, encouraging communication, co-ordination and delegation.”
Many people discussed the potential roles of budgets and had a range of views of their effectiveness in practice:
“Advantages [of budgets] such as promoting and enhancing co-operation, co-ordination and communication between … staff and sectors of the firm are … fundamental …to … motivation and job satisfaction which I believe to be a key to improving productivity …. A budget can provide a way for managers to express their plans to workers. If the plans are clearly understood, this is strategically beneficial to the company as responsibility and accountability for … tasks can be delegated.”
Quite a few people questioned the value and usefulness of budgets for motivation:
“I am not entirely convinced a budget would automatically assist a manager to inspire his or her team. Can we really suggest a young casual team member whose main motivation for being at work is saving for ‘schoolies’, could be the slightest bit interested in the consequence of his manager not reaching budget? Ultimately, I struggle to see how people in general can be motivated to make money for others.”
The Heathrow Airport baggage handling illustration was a popular story with many people; and quite a few people had similar experiences themselve in the workplace:
“I loved reading the example of Heathrow airport. I’ve seen so many examples of this working in a call centre. “Playing the game” is dangerous to a business, for customers and, in my experience at least, employee engagement … There was a great example of a call centre agent I knew that was smashing his target for average handling time (AHT) of calls. He was praised daily for his efficiency and rewarded accordingly. When someone finally listened to his calls to find out how he was so quick, they found that he would say nothing when customers came through and just wait for them to hang up. Needless to say, that wasn’t what senior managers were looking for when they set targets for AHT of calls … The question I always used to have was why do marketing/senior management make these decisions in the first place? Why would they do so without consulting the people who are having the conversation with customers? In a lot of these cases, someone at that level could have told them it wasn’t a good idea.”
Some people agreed that budgeting could have a role in communicating and coordinating within an organisation:
“I completely agree with everything the author has said in the paragraph about coordinating. It is so important to be able to communicate to your fellow co-workers to be able to get the job done … I never thought a part of communicating effectively would involve budgets. But it makes complete sense when you have a set amount of money to be able to achieve the goal you all have to work together and communicate effectively; to do so otherwise, you will go over the budget and you will have effectively failed your goal.”
And some people are developing an understanding that budgets can be a way of visualising a business in the short-term future; just a few steps ahead:
“Budgets represent a future virtual world for the firm. They can help us anticipate events: I thought this was a clever concept and it just “clicked” with me for some reason. I don’t think I had consciously thought of budgets in this way before. Maybe it’s because virtual reality has become ‘normal’ to us now, but when I read the paragraph on the bottom of page 12, I could think of the budgets I use at work and actually visualise how these could be transformed into a physical reality … I have been looking at budgets quite differently since. It’s like they have become 3D 😊.”
Some people also commented on their developing ‘relationship’ with numbers, and how they find it easier to relate to words than numbers. Indeed, the fear of numbers still reigns in many hearts in our unit:
“So, coming to the section on ‘sales and production budgets’ I was excited to see what I call a ‘word equation’. Like I have expressed in my previous work, I am a lover of these types of exactions. For me, it is so much easier to find the answer to what production + opening inventory = sales + closing inventory than for me to find the answer to 5000 x (5664-4754) + 100 x 5 is. Even though it has been expressed many times in this unit that ‘numbers are our friend’ (did anyone think about Bruce from ‘Finding Nemo’ when they just read that? I know I did), I have to admit I still feel that we are worse enemies and it is going to take me a long time to even be frienemies with them let alone be friends but maybe one day we will get there.”
And some people connected what they were reading with what they are studying in other units this term, deepening and strengthening their understanding of some of the concepts we are studying in this chapter:
“However, as the benefits of budgeting are reliant on others, these benefits can vary from workplace to workplace. As I learnt from my Organisational Behaviour unit, every person can be expected to react to situations differently; all people in a business won’t react exactly how it is expected to make budgeting beneficial. This doesn’t necessarily mean budgeting won’t work for all these workplaces; managers should just expect these benefits to differ and sometimes be inconsistent.”
And what we are studying in our unit can help us with what we are studying in other units as well. And why might this be? Well, because business is business. And all the business disciplines inter-connect with each other as they each help us understand and think about aspects of the integrated puzzle and challenge of succeeding in business. In this way, all the business disciplines are important; and are also part of one, single coherent whole:
“Another unit that I am doing this semester is Organisational Behaviour. One of the assignment pieces for this unit is on the topic of how managers can motivate employees and their role in the workplace … it looks like this chapter could possibly help me for this subject as well.”
Quite a few people commented that they did not understand how ‘Purple Chocolates’ could budget to make a cash loss and yet also budget for a large profit:
“I was also confused … where [Purple Chocolates] … have [budgeted to lose] cash of up to $325k but still managed to [budget for] a profit of $825k at the same time. To me this doesn’t make sense…”
This is something we will be looking at in our interactive workshop in Week 10. Once you understand how this can happen, you will then have a good understanding of how accounting is based on accrual accounting and exactly what this means.
Many people are engaging well with some of the illustrations of the key concepts and are also expressing their opinions and responses, supported with their own prior knowledge and previous experience:
“One thing that stood out to me … was the story about Dixon Street in New Zealand. At first I was amused by what had happened because it is a classic mix up but then it really made me think about how people could finalise the decision without actually visiting Wellington… this is actually a big problem that is seen across a number of different organisations. I have personally experienced this myself in a job I used to have where the ‘big boss’ made many decisions for the shop but rarely made a visit to react to problems first hand. Amongst the staff the disagreement from this decision would always cause dramas and upsets and it just goes to prove that sometimes decisions need a second opinion from the workers further down the chain.”
“…I enjoy these kind of readings as there are many examples that make understanding a concept more interesting such as the airport example … I found this example interesting because I love travelling and visiting different airports so when I started reading this, I got very excited!”
A few others found some of the stories and illustrations unhelpful, irrelevant and just ‘wanted to get to the point’:
“In the introduction, the author talked about flying across the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand. I felt as if the author really dragged this on and could have got to the point a lot quicker rather than go on about it for a few paragraphs.”
Others suggested they found reading lots of text difficult, with comments such as ‘so much to read’ … ‘19 pages is a lot to read’ … that perhaps there should be use of more links to material using other mediums rather than just the written word … and that reading so much material was taking them some time to adjust to; with some having made the adjustment by this stage in our unit:
“I think for the author to make it far more enjoyable and excitable to read, he should include more images or something different from text to have a break from it as it is really draining and boring after a while. An interesting reading should include many different mediums, or so I learnt in my Communication in Professional Contexts class.”
“Overall I am gradually getting use to the author’s style of writing and taking more and more in after each chapter. Personally I hate reading, so I am glad that this task forces me to stop and think about how the topic makes me feel. I am also using this method in other classes to really understand what the textbooks are saying.”
And a number of people are developing their view about whether budgets can help, or hinder, managers to better connect to and engage with their business:
“What I can take away from this reading is while the data [of a budget] is clear on the paper it is printed, if a manager does not interpret this data correctly, communicate the organisation’s goals and future outcomes, allocate the required resources appropriately or respond to the information detailed in the cash and income budgets quickly this can spell disaster for the future survival of a firm.”
“The potential benefits of budgeting are coordination, communication, delegation and motivation: …When used as intended, by someone who is good at managing and leading others, a budget can set the direction for a workplace, and help staff achieve the desired outcomes. The potential is reliant on people to drive and achieve the results.”
“And whilst I continue on in this accounting journey, one thing Chapter 7 has afforded me with is a firm’s predicted future seems to be more about the people within a firm and less about the numerical value the budgets depict. I am still of the view that accounting is a valuable aid to help firms in understanding and furthering their business realities, but I am learning there are also many factors that have the potential to hinder the usefulness of accounting.”
“The chapter asked us to question ‘can accounting really help, or is it more likely to hinder, managers to communicate their plans and ensure the resources of their firms are used in the short-term in a way that is consistent with their plans.
I believe accounting and the tool of budgeting is crucial for firms to allocate resources and funds over a period to ensure all fixed costs are covered. It can then be used as a way to plan and create motivation to reach targets and make maximum profits. Managers need accounting to visually see what needs to be achieved and plan out what they want to achieve.”
And so accounting can tell stories:
“Martin’s question of ‘Can accounting really help, or is it more likely to hinder, managers to communicate their plans and ensure the resources of their firms are used in the short-term in a way that is consistent with their plans?’ is interesting and a similar line of thought as discussed in previous chapters. It is one that I am answering much differently now, than I was at the beginning of the unit. I can now clearly see that numbers in budgets and financial statements can communicate a story, but not necessarily the truth, or [at least] is open to interpretation.”
Also, quite a few people are struggling with inadequate time available to spend on their studies in our unit; with many people having expectations of spending less time on the unit than the unit has been designed to take:
“Although I still don’t love accounting, I am finding it easier to understand every week; the issue I am having trouble with is trying to find time to study with full time work and a healthy social life.”
And quite a few people commented on their developing experience about learning in our unit, and about ‘learning-about-learning’. Many people have commented on how they are a particular ‘type’ of learner, such as a ‘visual’ learner, or ‘audio’ learner or whatever. The reality, of course, is that we all learn with all of our senses in all ways, even if we may have some particular strengths and preferences. And some are developing the awareness that learning is not simply about learning new concepts (a quantitative increase in knowledge) but can be much more, causing us to change how we view aspects of the world around us (which can include how we view ourselves) and in this way to change, perhaps in some special ways, as a person:
“Again in this chapter, I loved the use of tables by the author. It just makes my learning experience so much better. I actually never thought I was a visual learner but I have come to the conclusion that I am. Again, it is something new I have learnt about myself while completing this unit, which is very exciting and enlightening. I have now come to the conclusion that university, and learning for that matter, is not just about learning new concepts it is also about learning about yourself.”
And to end, here are two people’s views about what Chapter 7 of the Study Guide was all about:
“From reading Chapter 7, I have had my views reinforced … that we need goals (budgets) to keep us motivated, on track and successful in the work place. After reading this, I am now in my spare time constructing a proposal to my own line manager to work more closely in constructing a budget that is actually achievable for my store. With achievable budgets in place, I’m confident that we will be able to see a higher rate of productivity while also seeing which sectors we need to truly improve on and hold accountable for results. This information has truly put into perspective how much time and effort goes into creating these budgets to keep the money rolling in to businesses! To wrap up my concepts of Chapter 7 I leave with a quote that resonates with my views on short-term budgets strongly:
‘…A budget is not just a collection of numbers, but an expression of our values and aspirations.’ ”
” ‘I have a dream’. When I began to read this chapter the famous ‘I have a dream’ speech by Martin Luther King Jr, came into my head. [These four] words stuck with me for the rest of the reading. As I read through the chapter I found that the author was presenting a large number of concepts that didn’t seem to make sense, but … when I finished the reading, [I found] the concepts … all tied together and … reinforced the same idea. Just like [in] Martin Luther King Jr’s speech, he asked for help and wanted people to join together to achieve his dream. This is like in a firm, managers have dreams and ideas … to achieve these, help is needed. The first steps must be taken in order to begin achieving the goal. This is what I think the author is trying to say. In terms of business and accounting, budgets are a tool to use to assist with achieving the manager’s dream. Managers plan, communicate, lead employees, motivate, connect with people on [a] personal level, and are clear about the plans for the future. Budgets can help do this.”
Thank you for all your contributions in your ASS#2 Step 5.
I look forward to continuing to follow your discussions on issues you may face with your ASS#2 on our unit Facebook page and on Moodle forums; and I also look forward to reading your ASS#2 Step 6, which is due at 11.00am Monday 21 May (Week 11).