Cattle-Based Planning

Cattle-Based Planning
Greetings all, Steve here, back again. Ya know, we live in a world beset by problems. Environmental degradation. Cultural animosity. Inefficient planning techniques. It really gets to a person after a while. So I was thinking about how I could make some small contribution to improve things myself and I had an idea. I think we all use recycled paper for our planners, but eco-friendly transportation is an issue as well. I was chatting with Innowen about those really nice leather-bound Epica journals and we were trying to figure out whether there was a way to make one at home, DIY-style. I suggested taking some paper and folding a sheep around it.

Inno gently suggested that this perhaps not my best idea and that’s when I had an intuition, a mental flash, an idea that could solve two on-going problems…and possibly even change the world: Cattle-Based Planning.

Here’s how Cattle-Based Planning would work. Cattle-Based Planning (CBP) would combine the need for cheap, reliable transportation and well-structured organizational materials into one handy unit. Basically, you would ride around on an animal and write things on it’s body, ya know, "Reschedule sales meeting", "Finish power-point presentation", organizational stuff. CBP solves both the need for an eco-friendly transport system, an effective planner, provides animal-friendship and even provides a very dramatic Paul Revere-Style message delivery system. I think we can all agree that everyone would take notice if someone rode up on a cow to say that the Regional Sales Coordinator wasn’t happy with the quarterly report.

To help with the drama factor, I would suggest naming the animals like race-horses, Hard Spun, Perfect Drift and so on, but they’d have to be names with organizational significance. Picture a man in a business suit with his tie around his head, riding a horse and pushing a herd of bison covered in inter-office memos through a maze of cubicles shouting,

"On Optional Shelving Unit! On Potentials Quicklist! Deliver your important messages!"

Not only would it be dramatic, but there is something so much more personal about having a message delivered by a friendly animal, rather than an impersonal inter-office memo.

Of course, there would be problems integrating the system. These things are never smooth.

"Did that bison deliver the message Jim?"

"Yeah. That's not all he delivered."

And there would be problems keeping the animals focused.

"Can I get back to you? My To Do List and my Future Projects Matrix are mating."

With CBP, the choice of writing implement, now merely a personal choice, would become critical. For example, a fine felt-tip marker would a good choice for a smooth-furred animal, such as an emu, llama or reindeer, but would slip on furless animals such as cows. In those situations, I would suggest, as much for personal flair as for functionality, an old-fashioned ink and quill. Of course, it goes without saying that whatever writing-implement you use must be eco-friendly and wash off. Animals don't like to take their work home with them any more than people do.

There would no doubt be other problems as well. "Today Steve Jobs is said to be disappointed after the new iPod demo model was eaten by a yak. There were rumours that the yak subsequently got more rhythm, but it was later discovered to be parasites."

There are endless possibilities for CBP. Instead of talking about bull markets and bear markets, how about this: Write down a bunch of stock numbers on a bull and then write some more on a bear, and then let them fight over a huge tub of triple-chocolate chip ice cream. Televise the proceedings as pay-per-view and give the money raised to social programs. It's hardly any sillier than what happens now.

Of course, CBP stock marketing would have it's own unique problems. "Investors around the world were stunned today when the NASDAQ got into a fight with the Tokyo Stock Exchange after it put the moves on the TSX. Other markets responded more conservatively by eating grass."

To make the event more exciting, might I suggest tying Conrad Black, the Enron Guys and all those convicted business criminals onto the backs of the different stock market beasts, just to add excitement. You have to admit, there'd be a lot of ironic entertainment value in seeing someone who defrauded the public through the stock market getting run over repeatedly by the New York Stock Exchange, in the guise of a wildebeest who's hopped up on Mocha Mint Chip.

So anyway, that's basically how I see Cattle-Based Planning working. I'm sure there are issues and applications of this new technology I haven't thought of. Any one have any ideas they want to share with the class? And before anyone suggests having me committed: we already checked and they don't want me.

So until next time, keep your pen on the page and your emu on task.

Steve Sharam

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Brilliant....absolutely brilliant...

I'm particularly fond of your thoughts for the stock market. Of course this whole thing is completely insane but the better ideas always are like that.
I've lost myself and gone to find me, if I get back before I get here, please ask me to wait. -auther unknown

*standing ovation*

That was hysterical. I love it.

Green Planning

I really appreciate the though you've put into this new, eco-friendly planning system. I can envision a multitude of hacks already. Shared calendars is one that comes to mind: "Reese, we need to have a meeting on the new pigeon mail implementation for the Scranton branch." "Sure thing, Chris. Just Zwipe it onto ZebraCal."

In the spirit of accurate planning info I should point out that, last I knew, the Emu was not considered a smooth-furred animal, being a bird and all. And the cows here in central New York dairy country are not furless. :-)

I never finish anyth

Hairy cows? Well now I've heard everything!

Well, yeah, an emu is a bird. So it has feathers. And not fur. Um, o.k., so be right, see if I care:( Still, I think an emu would be good around the office, possibly for labor relations. They seem very serious, the strict office managers of the plain, perhaps.
Any ideas what we could use emus for?

Steve Sharam



Emu eggs are pretty big. That'd have to be your tickler. When the mother emu tosses out the empty (hatched) shell (upon which is written your idea or task), it's time to do the task.

As to hairy cows, the ones in Michigan have hair too. Short hair, but hair.

I think we could use more different animals as capture devices. Example: use a cat or a snake when you really don't want to accept anything new, a dog when you've got time to spare..

The dog is also good for items that need to be tickled a couple of times a day. A cat's good for items that need to be tickled a couple of times a week. Just attach the items to the dog's leash or the cat's litter box and you'll be reminded by the animal's regular behavior.


That could work

I like the emu egg thing. I would expect that you would seem quite mysterious to people if you said, Sorry, I have to go. My emu egg just hatched, so I have to fox the boss about the reformatting the herd. I like it!

Steve Sharam

I was also going to comment

I was also going to comment on the emus/cows error-- this just goes to show that you can't have a city boy solving a city problem with a country solution... he should have hired a consultant...
on the other hand, perhaps he was actually thinking of gnus?

One tentacle, one vote.


This is awesome Steve! The only issue I can see - a cow isn't very portable. Cow Based Planning would be great as a shared calendar or whiteboard. Everyone sure would know where to put information they wanted to share with everyone.

Some other animal-based planning ideas: a porcupine on your desk would make a wonderful inbox. If someone delivers a memo to you they could just put it on one of the quills.

I've also never seen a cow who could work an elevator, so that idea is definitely out for a way of distributing office memos around here. Messenger hamsters and a network of tubes that runs to every office in the building might be a better way to go. Just be sure you just put the message and not the hamster on your porcupine inbox!

The hamster would also make a wonderful Hipster PDA replacement for those who use animal-based planning. Just be sure to wear loose fitting pants and DON'T put it in your back pocket. You don't want to squish your Next Actions list.

A smart parrot could work as a replacement for a voice recorder.

The ideas are endless. Now we just need to figure out a good replacement for a classic size Circa notebook.


This post should come with a

This post should come with a warning not to drink coffee whilst reading it.
Parking lots and petrol stations could be grassed over turning them into another kind of filling station. Redundant Circa and Rollabind rings can be turned into ear tags, as long as the ear fits into the punch.
@ Kenny:
"The only issue I can see - a cow isn't very portable. "

You don't carry the planner, the planner carries you.

in Soviet Russia....

your planner carries you. Sorry, too much time on slashdot...

If everyone started doing this, they could replace highways with wide grassy trails. Just be careful when you park your cow. You don't want to step on the speedbumps.


Sorry about the coffee:S

Very zen those Russians:P

Steve Sharam

A parrot voice recorder

Hmm, a parrot voice recorder, that could work. I do like the idea of a cow white board. If you got a squeegee and a bottle of vinegar (environmentally friendly, of course), you could clean it off pretty quickly...except if it's one of those freak hairy cows from New York.

I really didn't think people would come up with this many good ideas:P Any other ideas how to bring our animal friends into the workplace?

Steve Sharam

I think I herd this before...

I think I herd this before but I trust Steve not to steer us wrong.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)


I didn't realize that this post would illicit such strong emutions. Yeah, yeah, I know:P

Steve Sharam

Don't you mean....

e-moooooooo-tions ?

To err is human, to forgive bovine ?
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Not sure

Not sure, I'll have to chew it over.

Steve Sharam

I suppose you cudd. my

I suppose you cudd.

my artwork | my blog


milk it for all it is worth.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Oh come on...

this is udderly rediculous!

Steve Sharam

you just CALF to stop... I

you just CALF to stop... I can't take anymore BULL.

my artwork | my blog

I give up

I give up, I am beaten. As usual sir, you are out standing in your field.

Steve Sharam

but you can't give up

but you can't give up Steve~! There is so much at STEAK ! ^^

my artwork | my blog

Quick, quick....

... take it on the lamb, he said sheepishly.

Yes, I'm a baaaaaaaaaad boy :)
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

just watch out for the

just watch out for the walrus.


won't say

I ain't saying mutton.


Wattle you think of next?

Ewe and your silly puns. I was thinking about how far we could take this, as it is a game fit for the farrow of Egypt, however, I suspect that many would get boared with it. This could be the basis for an entire Ceres of posts, written perhaps by the Scarecrow. Who better to teach a lesson about caws and effect?

Was that so offal?


Yes. :p


I don't believe in government intervention...

but perhaps people should require a permit to pun. Just a thought:P

Steve Sharam

Join the S.P.P.D.

Society for the Prevention of Paronomastic Defenestration

I'm not just a member, I founded it -- out of self preservation (^_^)
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)


Borrowing from Harry Potter, owl-mail has it's definite advantages over email.

On a side note, Steve, you have hit upon the solution to a problem that has been the bane of my obsessively listmaking existence. A future projects matrix. I've tried this is in varying rudimentary forms but it never occured to me that a matrix would allow me assign multiple categories without having to remember several pages of notes.
i've lost myself and gone to find me, if i get back before i get here, please ask me to wait. -auther unknown

Owl-mail, huh?

My girlfriend will love that. She's clinically addicted to Harry potter I think she may need rehab:S

Well, my hat's off to you folks. I thought that there was absolutely no way that this would have any practical application for anybody, but there it is. Let this be a lesson: Picking words at random out of desperation sometimes has practical benefits:)

Steve Sharam

pigeons = teh email system

back in 2000, when email was flaky at work... i always wondered the potential for piegon based mail carrying again. :)

of course, the loss of bird and training and... cleanup... prolly makes it less effective than cattle.


The IETF got there before you

"innowen" you need to read the Internet Engineering Task Force's RFC 1149 and the update as RFC 2549 for "IP over Avian Carriers with Quality of Service". You can read the text here or the official Internet Standard edition here. These are fundamental standards for the Internet.

i may have read those

i think... i read those a long time ago.

however, my favorite "use" of animals came in this post where it explains how to load linux on a dead badger.


Linux On A Badger, Huh?

That's different, I never would have thought of that. Of course, we're forgetting Mel Brooke's classic move of "foxing" people.

Steve Sharam

The bear cheek of it

how to load linux on a dead badger

Nah, try putting Linux in a bear ... teddy bear that is

Wow, that was fast

Wow, I seem to have struck a chord this week:) Lots of great ideas. Anyone have any other suggestions for integrating animals into our workflow?

The real question I have is whether this'll get me mentioned on Lifehacker again...probably not:P

Oh, and special thanks to Sara for the awesome artwork:)

Steve Sharam

How about...

reviving all that wonderful Green Technonogy from the Flintstones ?
It was all sticks and rocks and little critters.
Yabba-dabba-doo :)
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

It was there right in front of us

The answer was always there and we didn't see us. The Flintstones will show us the way!

Steve Sharam

Nanny goats

could serve as combo paper shredder and drink dispenser.

I think pigs would work better as note pads -- when not writing on them, you could use them as foot rests.

Desk organizer = Sheep?

A wooley sheep or better a ram would make a great desk organizer. Stick all your writing implements and other doodads in the coat and the ram's horns are a built in receipt keeper.

For business trips, a horse or camel is a planner and transportation all in one! No more losing important papers in airports or cabs. Confrence rooms may need some adjustments but that's all paper of accomodating a new system.
I've lost myself and gone to find me, if I get back before I get here, please ask me to wait. -auther unknown

shawn the sheep

i was thinking that one could also shave a sheep to get their message sent. you know, as an alternative to writing on them with a nonfriendly ink.


Free Wool!

And no more paying for wool. I like it!

Steve Sharam

Drink dispenser?!

The corrallary of that would be no more milk cartons for my binder system, and I would have to amooose myself otherwise.

Remember the Milk (RTM)

Steves, I think that you are onto something here! There's an app call 'Remember the Milk' which pays homage to the Cattle Industry. Check it out:
Remember the Milk
I ain't joking.
Duc Ly