During these tough economic times, some companies that operate as conglomerates and are held responsible for several divisions are feeling a sense of urgency due to their company’s complexity. Ironically, two companies who find themselves in this type of predicament are contradicting their own corporate name. General Motors wishes it was more focused and General Electric is planning to become more focused – so much for being “general.”

General Electric is performing many changes to its infrastructure in order to simplify its operations and create more cash flow. Many analysts have questioned CEO Immelt’s capability of managing GE’s vast portfolio. He assures all critics that the company is in reliable hands. GE’s appliances’ division has experienced a decline in sales due to the current state of the economy. Therefore, the company has considered the option of selling it along with a few of its other divisions in order to remain profitable.

General Motors is in a much bigger pickle. GM, having approximately seventy models throughout its eight brands, may be wishing it had kept its strategy simple. GM needs to shrink tremendously. If the company wants to remain competitive, drastic measures need to be taken. Bankruptcy protection may be the only way out of this one. One of the leading causes of its plummet is the decline in truck and SUV sales.

When looking to save money and cut costs, these two companies are doing so by eliminating product divisions and implementing layoffs. Several other companies have adopted the same strategies. When smaller, privately-owned companies are feeling the pinch, they do not normally have the option to retire a product line or service. Therefore, they seek to reduce costs elsewhere. Some strategies are often related to fleet management as discussed in several postings and other methods are relevant towards health-care and energy.

Many small companies are taking the healthy approach to save money. Wellness programs have been put into practice to lower heath insurance claims for companies. In an article on SmartMoney’s Small Business site titled “Companies Win Savings As Workers Lose Pounds”, a few companies discuss the lengths they went to generate savings by improving their employees’ lifestyles. Contests were the most popular method used to get programs underway. Teams were formed, goals were met, and savings were visible. Yes, an investment of time and money went into these programs, but the results were rewarding. Morale increased and money was saved in the long run.

Even if the time and energy is not available to implement a legitimate program, a contest to see who can shed the most weight or run the fastest mile can stimulate some healthy competition within any company, big or small. With the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics only a week away, there has never been a more perfect time to motivate employees.
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Kathleen Jordan

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