More with less. A thoroughly wrong, backwards statement, yet rather than rejecting it out of hand, we accept the marketing behind it and nod our heads in unison.
We know it’s wrong, but we’re promised that with the right technology and the newest software, we can make it true. And then we blame ourselves when it doesn’t work. That’s messed up.
I spent more than 30 years in the corporate world and lived through (barely) the experience of being involved in big projects that had to be done faster than ever before. In those cases, we were charged with doing more with less time. We had the money we needed, but time was a resource we were being asked to go without.
One of my favorite examples of more with less was the idea that we could take on a nearly billion-dollar project and “design as we went”. Since the exact manufacturing specifications were still in flux, we simply built with the designs we had and believed that the next stage would come into focus when we needed it.
This made for some interesting results. For example, we installed thousands of feet of high-grade stainless-steel piping, only to have to rip it out because the new designs revealed that something else needed to occupy that same space. Another time we put up a 40-foot wall, only to tear it down a week later.
More with less. We fall prey to this siren call all the time. We fall for it again and again because we want to believe it. Short-cuts or backdoors or whatever we call it, we want to believe we can do more with less.
We’re promised that the next technological advancement will let us do it. That the next software upgrade with be just what we need. We allow ourselves to be blinded by the bright colors and swallow the smooth sounding marketing double-speak. Even worse, we invest our own time and money in the latest snake oil and then we’re surprised when it doesn’t work out, and, instead of seeing the more with less scam for what it is, we blame ourselves for not being technologically astute enough to understand it. It’s almost like we’ve been set up to fail. Like we planned to fail.
And that’s the key. If we fail to plan, we plan to fail. All of us are either involved in a new project right now, or we are anticipating one in the future. The trick is to avoid the lure of the more with less mantra and do some serious planning. If we have a new project on the horizon, we need to realize that we’ll be attempting to do more – and to do more we need more. We either must obtain more resources, which requires planning, or we need to pivot our existing resources from where they are now to where they’re needed.
We need to make choices, and some of these will be painful. But if we want to accomplish more, we need more. Whether you gather more resources through hiring, borrowing, forming strategic partnerships, or even bartering, you’ll need to accept the fact that you simply can’t do more with less.
Planning is fundamental. In the days of the flintlock gun, the striker, or the cock, had to be pulled back all the way before pulling the trigger. Otherwise, it wouldn’t fire. If the gun was at half cock, you weren’t ready. The same goes in business. If we aren’t ready, if, instead of planning, we think we’ll really be able to do more with less, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment.
As expressed by Lester Bittel in The Nine Master Keys of Management “Good plans shape good decisions. That’s why good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true”.