Over the years people have concocted all sorts of diet plans that have proved to be as senseless as they are creative. From cabbage, to cutting carbs, to prune juice, to dog food, the metabolically challenged never seem to run out of ridiculous ideas for fad diets. The bottom line is that your body is a machine that must be kept in tune and sustained by healthy inputs. Any other sort of weight reduction leads to yo-yo results and long-term malnutrition. A company is no different.
In the face of current economic turmoil, far too many companies are turning to crash solutions like layoffs and cutbacks to solve their problems. Much like starving your body while exercising more, careless cutbacks can put members of your organization in a position where they are expected to produce more with fewer resources. The result is a temporary reduction of costs that eventually brings about the costly and sometimes fatal backlash of a malnourished company. Before a company goes bulimic, management needs to search for innovative ways to whip things back into shape.
You can’t cut the fat until you distinguish the fat from vital muscles and organs. In order to do this, a company’s managers must conduct a thorough analysis of every aspect of the company’s operations. This analysis needs to be more than just a quantitative overview. Managers also need to diagnose every facet of their companies’ operations through a qualitative, value-oriented lens. While the numbers and ratios are valuable troubleshooting tools, they must be augmented with critical thinking before they can be used to find the fat.
“Crash-diet” managers are inclined to view a reduction in employee productivity or shrinking profit margins as a signal for layoffs and cutbacks. “Healthy” managers will be motivated to figure out why these numbers are troubling. Productivity may be low because employees need more training or because they are using outdated equipment. Margins on products with solid potential may be shrinking because of process or procurement inadequacies.
If managers cut based on numbers alone, they are virtually starving out the fat. These companies are sure to end up skinny, but frail. When trimming down, companies need to do more than just cut the fat; they need to work until they turn it into muscle.
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Steve Tatum

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