Do We Really Understand What This Means?
I was reading a news article this weekend regarding an Oil & Gas company's earnings report. In the article the company leadership indicated that they were done cutting jobs and were now going to be consolidating and looking at getting more done with less. As I pondered that statement I wondered if anyone really understands what doing more with less really means?
An Admission of Failure
I have talked about this many times in the past and at the risk of sounding like a broken record I will say it again; we go through this boom-bust cycle where when prices are high companies bloat to fulfill all of their staffing wish lists and things they have been hoping and dreaming for. When prices drop they jettison those things and consolidate and start doing more with less. In this case what that means is that there is an understanding that they really didn't "need" all of those things to begin with and are now back to making due with what worked for them from the start. To me it is like a corporate weight loss program - we were overweight but now we are in trim and fighting condition. It may look like a declaration of intent but it is also an admission of failure.
How Do You Spot Those Who "Get It?"
Show me the company that has not had to drastically cut staff and operations in those down times and I will show you a company that was already "doing more with less" and who are positioned both culturally and operationally to weather these types of storms. In short, a successful company.
Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama underwent a company transformation when they moved to an Operational Excellence/Continuous Improvement model. They were struggling the same way many companies were in that industry and they knew they were in trouble. Out of desperation they adopted a new approach that focused on their people and teaching their leadership at all levels how to drive performance with their teams. It took a while but they built an operational excellence and continuous improvement culture that created high levels of employee engagement and satisfaction and a mentality that "everyone" owned the company bottom line. Within a year or two they became "the" company to work for and were recognized as being leaders in their industry. What’s more is that they have steadfastly maintained their operational excellence approach and have been one of those companies that has weathered countless up/down cycles with hardly a ripple.
They are an example of doing more with less because everyone is involved in keeping the company competitive and in the black. While others were cutting staff, their staff were coming up with cost savings and improvement of the customer experience; ideas that allowed them to hold onto their most valuable asset, their employees. They didn't bloat in the "up times" and they didn't cut in the down and they are still one of the companies of choice for folks in that region.
So my question for my colleagues in any industry is this; will this down turn produce more of the same old same old or are you seriously going to explore what doing more with less really means? Performance Leadership - Think About It!