I was struck by a letter from Steve Ballmer yesterday. It was entitled, the New Efficiency. I agree with many of the thoughts he expresses, particularly the notion of “The New Normal.” However, in his article he goes on to talk about the concept of “with less, do more.” (There is some subtle wordsmithing trying to say the concept is different than “doing more with less,” though I really couldn’t follow the article.
Regardless of how you position it, the thinking of with less doing more or doing more with less, has the potential of making us blind to new opportunities, as well as continuing the rhetoric that is exhausting everyone.
We’ve gone through years of cutback and increasing demands for productivity and efficiency. The reality of what this means in most organizations, is the work that was done by 10 people must now be done by 5–or less. Too many are addressing this challenge by working longer hours, by taking needless shortcuts, by executing the same tasks only faster.
I think the notion this notion of doing less with more is wrong and orients us to searching for the wrong solutions.
I like the ideas of the new normal and the new efficiency. I think to exploit these we have to do new thinking. We shouldn’t focus on doing more, but we should focus on “how can we do things differently.” We should look at, turning things completely upside down. We should consider redesigning organizations, processes, and work from a blank sheet of paper. These approaches will open us up to new ideas where we don’t necessarily do more, but we do differently and better.
I’m tired of hearing the continued mantra of we have to do more with less (or however one chooses to wordsmith it). I’m tired of solutions that focus on speeding up or making more efficient the current work processes. The silver lining behind the new normal and the new efficiency is that we have the opportunity to think of new ways of working, organizing and doing business. Let’s take the opportunity to discover these, exploit these, energize ourselves, our customers and our people.