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:
- 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
- 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?