There is hardly a business, town council or institution that is not constantly running on empty it seems. We are reminded that there is no money for this and certainly no money for that. Management is under pressure to constantly reduce costs. But how far should we go?

The never ending call to do more with less is creating a new reality of doing less with less.

In South East London there is a comparatively rich town (by European standards) with nearly three hundred thousand inhabitants. Apparently the town’s council does not have enough money to keep a small team of gardeners on to look after their parks. Their Parks used to be magnificent. Places to relax and enjoy.  In the dishonest name of public safety, they have dug up all the shrubs and hedges that need pruning every year, cut down trees that drop their leaves and turned flowerbeds into paved areas.  And all the while there are qualified people queuing up on the local unemployment lines, that dream of the chance to make their local community a nice place to live and work by planting and cultivating plants, trees and wild life.

Behind the scenes, IT directors are struggling to service their businesses, let alone offer their companies any kind of ‘added value’.

For example, our local hospital has enormous cash reserves and a very healthy balance sheet but it also has over 400 PC’s and over 100 servers.  In addition, it has a whole array of custom made software applications that are aging and need a great deal of manual interventions.  And to support the whole IT system, employees and infrastructure; including the consultants i-pads and i-phones etc. they have four IT specialists, supposedly covering 24/7.  Sooner or later, something serious is going to go wrong and a patient’s life will be lost for the want of correct data.

Running on empty is not responsible, we owe it to our stakeholders and shareholders to ensure that we are strong enough to stand up at the right time to say ‘that’s enough now’ – How far do you want us to cut back? To the lowest cost base of the lowest company in the world, to the lowest standards of the poorest city in the world, how far? I mean who actually decides in the end?

I propose that we business folk set a new baseline:

  1. We automate whatever business processes we can automate
  2. We use machines and resources as efficiently and effectively as possible
  3. We agree that employing people is not a ‘bad thing’
  4. We look for areas and circumstances where ‘a few more people’ can make a massive impact
  5. We encourage all our stakeholders, customers and suppliers to decide to which standard we should work and deliver our goods and services?

Running on empty should never be a constant frame of mind but a temporary one. Running efficiently, is something entirely different and something that one hundred percent endorse.

Have a good week