The subtitle of Jason Jennings’ Less is More is: How Great Companies Use Productivity as a COMPETITIVE TOOL in business. That sounds like this book will be about efficiency techniques and competitor case studies. I almost didn’t read the book because I wasn’t in the mood for a straightforward business text. But the book is actually much more comprehensive than the title and certainly the subtitle suggest. It’s also a breezier read than expected: any book that espouses the value of public hangings in a chapter about weeding out bad management is not going to be a staid business tome.
There is a big focus on the culture of these productive companies and how committed they are at all levels to sound business practices. It was refreshing to see examples of big, established companies that calculated the value proposition of their ideas using simple but powerful financial metrics, implemented systems that worked, weeded out bureaucracy, and built a culture of respect and integrity at all levels. We have all seen too many big companies allow bad practices to seep in at all levels. WTGBRFDT, an acronym used by one of Jennings ‘ case studies, is not the norm even though it should be. (WTGBRFDT = What’s the good business reason for doing this? and it’s a central theme of the book.)
Less is More has convinced me to look at my own business practices with a more watchful eye. It will also help as I consult to my bigger clients. Recently I pitched to a client that used a team of 10 to recruit 200 hires. In my past corporate life, I had managed a team of 3 that recruited 500 hires. This company was concerned whether I could help them because I previously had overseen just a team of 3. Perhaps I can send them this book with the chapter on Financial Metrics highlighted. Rather than worrying about numbers managed, they could focus on numbers hired, recruiting more with less staff. Focusing on the right metric is a critical tool for any business and especially true in this economy.