Grumbling about the need to do more with less?

You hear the grumbling all the time. From sales reps: “My quota is higher again this year and my territory is smaller. Not only is it unfair, it’s nuts!” From plant managers: “My production targets are up again this year, and they want me to cut back on workers and eliminate overtime. Not only is it unfair, it’s nuts!” From any manager of any department: “They expect me to do more work with fewer people. Not only is it unfair, it’s nuts!” And on and on and on. News flash, boys and girls…

If you can’t do more with less year after year after year, you should be summarily fired!

Let me rephrase the above point so it hits a little closer to home first, then I’ll prove my point. If you don’t expect yourself to be able to do more with less year after year after year, you should be ashamed.

The fact of the matter is, every existing business process and every business that stays in business is relentlessly getting more productive; constantly doing more with less. That’s the whole point! A few examples:

Agriculture

In 1776, it took roughly 97% of the American population to produce enough food to feed everybody. Well almost. Starvation was not uncommon, virtually everyone went hungry periodically and malnutrition was rampant.

Today, it takes less then 1% of the American population to feed not only the U.S., but a goodly chunk of the rest of the world. Plus, 34% of us are obese, and another 34% are overweight. The UN estimates that about 700 million people globally are malnourished, and that 1 billion are overweight. More overweight then underweight!

Farmers have been doing much, much more with much, much less for hundreds of years.

Manufacturing

In 1948, 29% of Americans were employed in manufacturing jobs producing an inflation adjusted $70 billion worth of stuff. Today, fewer than 10% of Americans make over $1,600 billion worth of stuff.  You read it right, that’s $1.6 trillion.  Yowie!!! In relative terms, that would be 22 times as much accomplished with 1/3 the staff.

And think of how much better the stuff they make has gotten. Not only do my shirts cost less, they don’t need to be ironed and can be washed 50 times and still look good! The IBM PC I bought in 1981 (the BIG one and at the employee price) had a 4.7 mH processor, 64K of memory and dual 160K floppy drives. It cost over $10,000 in today’s dollars. I bought a phone last month for $150 that has a 1gH processor, 1.7 gB memory and 16 gB of storage. That’s more than 200 times faster, 26,000 times the memory and 44,000 times as much storage for 1.5% of the money. And it’s a phone, not a PC!!!

Manufacturers have been doing much, much more with much, much less for hundreds of years too.

I could go on and on with the examples, but hopefully you get the point. Grumbling about the need to do more with less is equivalent to wearing a sign that says, “I’m a clueless knucklehead!”

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