Doing more with less…

May 10, 2008

…is a good idea only if what you were doing before was poorly conceived, half-heartedly executed, or both.

Therefore, managers who exhort you to ‘do more with less’ may think you’re stupid. Or they may think you’re incompetent. Most likely they themselves are completely out of ideas and are hoping you’ll pull a marketing rabbit out of a hat and make them look good.

If you want huge improvement don’t focus on doing more with less. Focus on doing different with other. Figure out which programs are break-even, which programs are still on the books because they’re an executive favorite even though results can’t be demonstrated. Throw those away.

Then take those resources (time, budget, focus) and do something different. Instead of looking for more resources, look for other approaches that aren’t being employed.

In their glory days, Southwest Airlines didn’t beat the established players by doing more of what American and Delta did with fewer resources. They did something different – no hub’n’spoke, no unprofitable routes, no reserved seats. That did that with other resources than the established players used – lower-skilled labor, only one type of plane, the airports less traveled. Netflix didn’t challenge Blockbuster with marginal gains in efficiency, and Amazon didn’t take on Barnes & Noble by shaving points off opex. They did different with other.


2 Responses to “Doing more with less…”

  1. Tawny Press Says:

    Doing more with less? Do managers really use these statements in this day and age?

    An experienced manager knows the best source for new ideas and change, are the people. Everyone wants to succeed, be liked and respected. Some of the best and most brilliant ideas have come from the most surprising places.

    It is interesting, if you have an open arena, where there is no bad question, no silly answer or no statement judged, how open individuals will be with their ideas.

    Managers should really research Paradigm shifts and allow employees to express themselves. Then they would rethink the statement “Doing more with less”.

    Great ideas most often come from unlikely people. Unlikely, in our minds only.

  2. rsomers Says:

    Thanks Tawny! I hear the ‘more with less’ cliche less than I did ten years ago. Perhaps we’re making progress. But I heard it last week, so it’s still hanging on out there somewhere.

    An open approach as you describe can really get ideas flowing. Those good ideas can come from the mailroom as easily as from the executive team. The really fun thing there is one goes from a mentality of scarcity (we have no idea what to do) to one of abundance (we have so many ideas that we hardly know where to start, but we’re energized and ready to get going).

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