Is Your Organization Anorexic?

by Stephen Shapiro

The President of a $1 billion company once asked me to describe his organization in one word. My response?

“Anorexic.”

The Vice Presidents who sat around the table nodded in agreement. They assumed that I meant there was no fat left to cut. That is not what I meant.

Anorexics often have relatively “high” body fat percentages because their lean body mass erodes along with the fat.

This is what many organizations have done. An an effort to cut costs, in addition to cutting fat, they also cut large amounts of lean body mass.

Are you thinking of further cost cutting? If so, what are you eliminating? Fat? Bone? Muscle? Vital organs? No company in history has ever “cut” its way to long-term success.

Exercise grows muscle while burning fat.

Innovation is exercise for businesses. It helps grows the organization while also enabling cost efficiencies.

During the depression, Henry Ford said, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.”

The same is true for innovation. Although cost cutting may be a necessary short-term tactic, it is NEVER a strategy. If you are in cost-cutting mode, make sure that your cuts target fat and not lean body mass. In addition, be sure to exercise your organization. Invest in innovation now and you will be prepared for long-term growth and success.

P.S. I like this photo. It nicely depicts the obsession that many companies have with measuring everything in sight, yet in the end not measuring anything of value.


Stephen Shapiro is the author of three books, a popular innovation speaker, and is the Chief Innovation Evangelist for Innocentive, the leader in Open Innovation.

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