Leadership, Strategic planning

A plug for redundancy

I’ve been in Berlin the last couple of days sitting in meetings. In addition to discussing the topics at hand my mind began to wander to the twin concepts of efficiency and productivity. I think many people would agree that in the business world these concepts are to be striven for. Countless articles have been written about them. A quick Google search produces these titles of articles:

Efficiency –

  • 10 Tips to Improve Business Efficiency
  • 8 Ways to Improve Your Company’s Efficiency
  • Ten Tips for Making Your Business More Efficient
  • 3 Ways to Make Your Business More Efficient

Productivity –

  • 8 Business Practices That Increase Productivity
  • The Importance of Productivity in Business
  • Improving productivity in Business
  • Ways to Improve Company Productivity

I think the introduction to this last article sums up what many mean by these two terms – “No matter what your company does, improving the productivity of your work force can boost your bottom line. Doing more with fewer resources is a fact of life in today’s competitive business environment, and that dynamic is not likely to change anytime soon. That means the companies that can get the most productivity from every worker and the best results from limited resources are the most likely to succeed in the long run.” (http://smallbusiness.chron.com/ways-improve-company-productivity-1230.html )

 

But I have to wonder if perhaps, in our attempts to be more efficient and productive, we may in fact not boost our bottom line. I believe, “doing more with fewer resources” can at times even be counter-productive. My premise is built on the assumption that, invariably, in any business there will come unforeseen difficulties and challenges that tax its resources. If those resources, be they time, personnel, financial or other, are stretched to their limits, they will eventually snap leaving that business in a weaker position.

I propose that we purposely build redundancies (surpluses) into our businesses. By that I mean having, for example, more staff than absolutely necessary to accomplish the task, more time than strictly needed to complete a project or a surplus of capital in the bank doing “nothing”. By doing this we create a buffer making us less vulnerable to the difficult times that invariably will come. Better to make a little less profit in the short term in order to insure continued profitability in the long term.

What are your thoughts?

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4 thoughts on “A plug for redundancy

  1. Ed,

    Great article. I can tell you that being part of the “reduce redundancy” movement many times we do actually lower productivity rather than boost it. Many times in my precious position (and company) I was required to reduce staff, do more with less, meet corporate financial objectives, etc. The core business today at that company is significantly less than it was 10+ years ago when this process started while the industry is significantly larger.

    There is a balance between efficiency and productivity that is tough to find. Like most things in life – excess is generally not the best while moderation typically is the best measure.

    Thanks for the read and provoking some interesting thoughts.
    BTW – there is no such thing as too much golf and I need to be more efficient AND productive in my game. -:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Jerry. Thanks for the feedback. With regard to golf. If productivity and efficiency have to do with producing more (higher score) with less (less time to play golf) then I would advocate a redundant strategy; producing less (lower score) by playing more :-).

      Like

  2. Hi Ed,

    Nice article, and god thinking also… Although the rationale you present on redudancy as a better long term strategy to efficiency/productivity (for the sake of the discussion these two goes hand-in-hand) seem s reasonable and sound, I will say that two contra-arguments to not having such redundancy and still deliver the same results (or better) in the long term are:

    1) Having a short(-est) recovery time upon the eventual loss of my resource. If my business can recover fast enough such that my lost of revenue/income due the loss of the resource is lower than the cost of having redundancy within the comparable time frame, then redundancy is not the better option.

    2) Reduce the risk of resource failure, for example, swapping the resource for a new one much earlier than the industry/company average respect to the life cycle of the resource (lower utilization of the resource). Similarly here, this approach would yield better bottom-line results than the redundancy strategy, as long as the cost for the combined effect of swapping the resource as frequently as necessary (to reduce the risk of failure to a desired level) plus the cost of under utilizing the resource is lower than the cost of having to pay for redundancy.

    Furthermore, each strategy has its own side effects to deal with, and many fail to consider these. A strategy can be very good for some organizations in a given industry/sector, but for competitors would be catastrophic due to the side effects of the strategy (too costly for the business, changing of the social environment of the organization in a way difficult to manage for the individual managers, etc.)

    Business is a mirror of life (one to one mirror), and as it is in life,there are many strategies to choose from. The challenge for a manager is to decide which one to choose for the best interest of the business upon the uncertainty of the future and the limited/lack off (validated) information.

    Actually, this opens another possible topic for a blog… going further deep into the reflection of the reason of the business, what is the purpose of the business? Can I do something else that fulfill the purpose of me doing this business where the question of redundancy or not redundancy is minimized to such a level that becomes irrelevant to ponder about it…

    Good luck Ed… Keep it up!!

    Francisco

    Liked by 1 person

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