Bob Lewis on Progress and Economizing vs. Cost Cutting

“Contentment comes from wanting what you have,
Ambition from wanting what the other person has,
Progress from wanting what nobody has.”
Bob Lewis “Random Thoughts

Bob Lewis writes the “Keeping the Joint Running” E-mail newsletter, devoted to practical advice for leading IT organizations effectively.

From his column “In General, a Time for Generalists” Bob offer three tips for reducing expenses.

  1. Any schmuck can cut costs. Economizing–finding efficiencies that allow the organization to continue delivering as much service as possible while reducing costs–requires excellent management.
  2. Don’t try to solve it in big, bold strokes. The best solutions usually come from nibbling away at the problem.
  3. If everyone does everything the same old ways, all you’ll be able to do is cut costs — you won’t find any opportunities to economize.

I feel that there is a deep insight here: organizational change has a number of complex interrelationships that can yield sharply non-linear effects (sometimes no effect after seemingly large changes, and often small changes generating huge unintended consequences). Nibbling away allows you to proceed cautiously, especially when making cutbacks, to assess the effects. I have touched on a different aspect of this in “Doing Less with Less” but startups should be continually re-evaluating development and support methodologies, running experiments to see if changes in approach can yield more productivity or bona fide cost savings.

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