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The Pie Problem
Once upon a time there was a guild of bakers. Bakers belonged to a kitchen and the kitchens belonged to the guild. They were fortunate enough to live in a town simply mad for pies. As soon as they baked a pie it was bought and eaten.
The bakers all dreamed of flour and lard and fillings of apple and cranberry and chocolate and caramel. When they awoke, it was to the realities of another day of mixing and kneading and rolling and baking.
The townsfolk all wanted different pies. As a result, each baker baked their own tarts, just enough for one customer to eat.
To keep track, each baker stamped their initials on each pie they baked. After a while, the kitchens would collect all the stamps, then get together to compare the jobs the bakers had been doing.
Tarts → Pies
The town grew, based largely on the prosperity created by the thriving pie trade. As demand for pies grew, tarts were no longer necessary. Several people wanted apple pie in a day, so it made sense to bake whole pies at a time. This let the person who wanted to learn to make crusts just make crusts and the person who wanted to learn to make fillings to just make fillings.
The tradition of stamping pies with the initials of the bakers continued. Since several people made each pie, it was necessary to slice the pies and stamp the slices. This was merely a nod to tradition, though, since everyone knew that any one pie was the product of several people together.
The Pie Problem
Soon two kinds of kitchens emerged. In the first kind, the focus remained on making bigger and better pies. Slicing and stamping was seen as something that happened for historical reasons but it had no influence on the making of the pies. How could it?
In the second kind of kitchen, however, stamping and slicing became the primary activities. It seemed as if the pie itself was nothing more than an excuse to play the Slicing and Stamping Game. These kitchens naturally turned out smaller pies and worse pies, since they weren’t actually focused on the pie but on the game.
It would be easy to dismiss the second kind of kitchen. We all know that pie is the point, not who gets credit. That’s only true, however, as long as there is enough credit to go around. When fear of lack of credit becomes stronger than excitement about accomplishment, it’s a natural human reaction to dream of slices and stamping and neglect the pie.
I leave this story unfinished, as it is in truth. Will the bakers:
Continue the trend toward focus on slicing and stamping? Re-focus on pies and let the slicing and stamping fall where it will?
Find a new way to acknowledge the diverse contributions of bakers to pies?
We will find out. But we will also create the answer by our own behavior.