The Sorcerer and the CFO

In which a CFO learns to measure the value of the intangible.

An AI-generated image in traditional Japanese style of a tradesman and a sorcerer.
A CFO and a sorcerer. Image generated with AI by DALL-E.

A CFO came to see a Sorcerer, and said: “Sorcerer, do you know about magic ink?”

“Certainly,” said the Sorcerer. “I invented it. Why do you ask?”

“Well, Sorcerer, our employees are creating all kinds of things with magic ink. For instance they paint it on sheets of glass, allowing them to talk to people on the other side of the world.”

“By Amaterasu!” said the Sorcerer. “If ordinary mortals can do such things, I’ll be out of work soon.”

“Our employees do work miracles,” said the CFO. “But here is the problem. For all the intangible work they create, they demand payment in very tangible gold kobans.”

“Isn’t their work worth the money?” asked the Sorcerer.

“How can I know, Sorcerer?” said the CFO. “How do I measure the value of the intangible?”

“Perhaps I can help you out,” said the Sorcerer. “What if I turn all the intangibles into tangibles? You can see all your inventory, and account for it.”

“Like in a manufactory? That would be wonderful!”

The Sorcerer waved his wand, and said: “It shall be, like you said.” The CFO thanked him, greeted, and left.

When the CFO returned a few hours later, he looked pale and shaken.

“Sorcerer, I need you to revert that spell. Please. As quickly as you can.”

“What happened?” asked the Sorcerer. “What did you find?”

“A pile of inventory, higher than Mount Fuji,” said the CFO. “Please Sorcerer, the world cannot know.”

The Sorcerer waved his wand, and said: “It shall be, like you said.”

The CFO thanked him, greeted and left, relieved that Mount Fuji was again the highest mountain in Japan.

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