Best and Less

Best and Less

“Doing more with less.” I couldn’t tell you the number of times that pithy little ditty has cropped up in these pages. And, since the first time it was writ or said (probably by some Neanderthal CFO in six million BC), only God knows how many times it’s been used. But for the sake of quantification, let’s make do with the Google search I did, which indicated about 49,100 for “doing more with less”. A search for its brother produced about 153,000 for “do more with less”.

I want to share an idea with you: Let’s stop saying it. Moreover, let’s stop drinking the Kool-Aid and doing it. I, for one, believe that as a business model, “doing more with less” has largely outlived its use by date. And worse, I’m beginning to suspect that as a pervasive sentiment it’s doing no one and no organization any good. In fact, it’s causing downright harm.

We have scaled back, pared, sliced and stripped away as much money and as many people as we can. In fact, if truth be told, we went way beyond that point a couple of years ago. We’re past bone and hitting vital organs here. And with all that slicing and dicing, we’ve left ourselves with a workforce that is finding it at best difficult to keep up and scraping bottom when it comes to initiative, innovation and any form of resilience.

We’ve got people juggling too many things. We’ve got people who can’t get what is now their “normal” workload done within any kind of “normal” workday hours. As a result, “more” ain’t a happening thing. What we have instead is a big-time heap of mediocrity happening.

So the next time some bozo starts talking about “doing more with less”, I think the answer should be something along these lines:

“Hey buddy-boy, with less I can barely continue to do what I’m doing now. I’m exhausted. My people are stretched and strung out. IT (or fill in the blank with the discipline of your choice) is held together with duct tape and baling wire: the weight of a wafer-thin mint would see it implode.

“So bugger off if you think I can do more with less. And don’t come back. At least until you can say: ‘How about doing more with a little more?’ You know, on a day that I’m a bit less tired and stressed, I might even accept: ‘How about doing the same with the same?’ But do more with less? Gedouttahere!”

It’s time to kill the sucker, put a stake through its evil black heart and get about our business with realistic expectations of what people can — and cannot — do.

A little more gain and a little less pain might do us all — along with the business — a world of good.

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