Many years ago, I spent my childhood growing up in a blue-collar Melbourne suburb. My Dad worked hard and Mum took care of us kids, that’s how it was back in the day! We had a good upbringing, and I will always appreciate the effort that Mum and Dad went to provide for us.
One of the things that I admired about my parents was their ability to do more with less. They were thrifty and resourceful people who lived lives of minimal waste; and that was before it became trendy to recycle and reuse! When resources are abundant, it’s easy to take things for granted and not look to innovate, improve, and save. My family’s resources weren’t abundant and that brought the best out of my parents.
I’ve been thinking about those times recently, prompted by the challenges that we have faced over the last few years. COVID-19 and the Ukraine war have had a significant impact on the global economy whilst in the background, Mother Earth reminds us that climate change is happening, however one believes it is caused.
The mantra of “doing more with less” is common amongst many organisations and when financial and environmental factors are challenging us, it is a mantra that tends to get more airplay. Across the board there are challenges for organisations to become more efficient, more productive, more innovative whilst operating with constrained and in some cases, less resources. Organisations that can remain competitive yet adaptable to market dynamics will thrive.
There are a few areas that I see as opportunities for organisations to look at:
- Human Capital / Talent Optimisation – Particularly for organisations that sell services and not products, this is crucial. Is your organisation getting the most out of its workforce, ensuring that skills and expertise are role-matched and used effectively. Rather than increasing headcount, have you considered flexible role assignments/secondments? Training and upskilling is another option. I’m a big believer in “informal” training; shadowing senior team members, working on a complex project with an experienced team, grabbing a coffee with a colleague, these are all opportunities to learn and develop.
- Operational Efficiency – This is central to all organisations and centres on areas such as eliminating wasteful practices and streamlining processes and workflows. The opening line, “I reckon that there’s a better way to do this” sets the scene and invites conversation and an innovative mindset. Maybe the answer to a better way to do this doesn’t exist right now, but at least having the conversation gets people thinking about it. Aside from saving money, improvements in processes and workflows tend to eliminate repetitive value-reducing functions that no one wants to do anyway!
- Strategic Prioritisation – Organisations often have many initiatives that they want to achieve but with scarce resources, only a few can be achieved. Organisations must focus on the initiatives that best align to their strategic objectives yet deliver the greatest impact. Considered evaluation of each initiative and its potential return on investment and strategic alignment.
The mantra of “doing more with less” is not a new one, but in a challenging and complex environment it’s a topical one. Organisation that can embrace a “doing more with less” philosophy will position themselves well amidst competition, economic and environmental fluctuations. It worked well for my Mum and Dad, and I reckon it can work for your organisation as well!
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