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Un-Exhaust aka Less is more, why companies are exhausted

Business of today brings interesting paradox - companies are more and more aware of need to transform and adapt to ever changing world while they are less and less capable of delivering on this. Therefore the new start-ups are so successful and taking over the lead in innovations and customer satisfaction. 

It is paradox because the traditional, large companies have resources, money and skills that gives them all cards into winning the race. Moreover they certainly do not lack the ideas, usually the start-ups do not bring anything groundbreaking. 

Where is the problem? For a moment I put aside the assumption, that start-ups are motivated by dire need to survive or that life in corporations is so comfortable, people there are not motivated to change anything. I’ll focus of one particular issue - companies aka people in them are EXHAUSTED. 

Let’s take a look from several points of view:

  • companies are exhausted because the business environment is getting tougher and tougher and they are desperately trying to fight it by introducing one transformation, initiative or project after another. 

  • because the quarterly results push them for short-term thinking, they have no time to wait for results and management is motivated to bring another quick-solution

  • because the quickest saving is FTE reduction, this usually saves the day (and annual bonus) while real structural problems of the company persist and become ticking time-bomb

  • less FTEs in the organization aren’t capable to drive transformation no more. People spend 100% of their time running daily operations (plus cigarette and coffee breaks) and they have no time, energy and motivation for transformation initiatives. Moreover they’ve learnt that previous transformations failed too, they save energy for something more meaningful - which is for them the daily operations, because nobody is going to appreciate their effort in another failed project. 

People are usually motivated by short-term targets, small tasks done quickly which make everybody happy. But you certainly sense, that making important changes like adding muscles to your body or losing weight requires pain. So only few make in the real life.

Corporate life allows to hide much longer than kilograms or centimeters, therefore avoiding the painful projects can guarantee couple of years of a good career. 

What is the solution, when quantity doesn’t work anymore? Yes, indeed it is „less is more“.

The only way to save many companies nowadays is cutting the No. of their projects significantly and focusing on the real, meaningful and often painful ones. It means also to learn understanding their people, understand their motivation. It definitely requires to stop thinking that people are replaceable assets, that can be thrown away and the new guy from the street can be up and running one month after hire. And last, but not least - companies need to learn again long-term. Because they have ideas, have resources, they are just exhausted and need to UN-EXHAUST.

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