Less is More (Jason Jennings)

Less Is More: How Great Companies Use Productivity as a Competitive Tool in Business (Jason Jennings)


  1. Focus on the Simple Big Objective
    1. Keep everything simple and clear – including strategy
    2. The focus is determined by the leader in a defining moment
    3. The leader needs to crystallize for people where the business is going and how it is going to get there
  2. Get people on board
    1. Leader needs to live the achievement of the Objective
      1. There is no try. There is only doing.
    2. Sell the big Objective
      1. Build the culture around the objective
    3. Deal with the Unions and Cynics. Then Move On.
    4. Fire Some People
      1. The right people are the key resource
    5. Abandon anything that takes the eye off of achieving the Objective
    6. Prove that you are in it for the long haul
  3. Streamline everything
  4. Communicate truthfully with everyone
    1. Deal with fact and reality
    2. Be open with the numbers, with communications, with supplier communications
    3. Criticize the process, not the people
    4. Some people don’t do truth and openness well – not “on the bus”
  5. Destroy the bureaucracy and make it simple (“The only thing that saves us from bureaucracy is its inefficiency”)
    1. Change everything as fast as you can (which is always faster than you think you can)
    2. Get the right people on the bus
    3. Blow up functional silos and construct cross-functional teams
    4. Decentralize to create entrepreneurship
    5. Flatten the organization to increase responsiveness to customers and others within the company
    6. Create passion in the ranks; lead by visible example, show the troops you care – a lot.
    7. Create and reinforce a high performance culture
    8. View all decisions from the perspective of “Does it help the customer” and “Does it make us money?” If it doesn’t, it’s bureaucracy. Shoot it.
  6. Get rid of the wrong executives and managers… fast
    1. Many managers are too chicken to play hangman
    2. Get rid of special perks for executives
  7. No layoffs
    1. Organizations lose valuable knowledge when institutional memory is not transferred to others
    2. The damage to workers includes loss of morale, anxiety, pessimism, and a “save my own butt” attitude – a siege mentality that is not in the best interests of the company.
    3. It is more expensive to lay off workers (legal, administrative, and financial packages out the door) and then rehire (recruiting and training expenses) than it is to shorten the workweek and temporarily reduce pay.
    4. While layoffs may lead to superficial short term efficiencies, they don’t produce or sustain productivity.
    5. No layoffs – The Secret – Productive Companies Don’t “Hire” Employees
      1. They hire people only when absolutely necessary and when they know the people well
      2. Outsource when necessary
      3. Cross Train
    6. But, there is room for a “One-Time Reorganization Layoff
  8. WITGBRFDT – What is the good business reason for doing this?
  9. The Real Financial Drivers
    1. Focus on the drivers of productivity
    2. Find the drivers, measure them regularly and seek constant improvement
    3. Communicate and share the drivers with everyone
  10. Systemize everything
    1. Have a system for every part of your business and work it over and over
    2. System
      1. Everyone does things the same way each time.
      2. The company has determined that each step is the best way to perform the task
      3. The objective is to perform tasks with zero variation
      4. The way a task is done becomes the baseline for continued improvement
    3. People will fight the systemization
    4. Empowerment can be a big excuse for doing nothing
    5. Trust and respect are required for systems to work
    6. Make a system into a culture
  11. Continuous improvement – Kaizen
    1. Leadership must be involved in continuous improvement
    2. There needs to be agreement on the objectives
    3. You need to know what the real product or service is
    4. Start by mapping the current process
    5. The people performing work must be involved in the new process
    6. The improved process is implemented immediately
    7. Continuous improvement becomes the ethos of the company
  12. Compensation
    1. It’s not the money
    2. Pay for productivity
      1. Capable of quickly weeding out people who won’t fit in
      2. Organized as group based
      3. Built to drive the team spirit
      4. Designed to provide constant reinforcing of the culture
      5. Easy to understand
      6. Financially rewarding for hard and smart work
  13. Digitize
    1. Neither knowledge nor technology creates a competitive advantage
    2. Digitization does not create a competitive advantage
    3. Technology for technology sake is waste
    4. Map and understand the flow first – then digitize
  14. Motivate
    1. Competition within an organization needs to be directed at an external goal or objective
    2. “Us” against the world
    3. Authentic motivation
      1. Create a safe and secure workplace
      2. Give meaning to work
      3. Make workers stakeholders and give them responsibility
      4. Allow mistakes
      5. Foster teamwork
      6. Encourage diversity
      7. Find an external enemy to fight
      8. Then get out of the way
  15. Embody – The 11 Traits Required for the Leader of a Highly Productive Enterprise
    1. Attention to detail
    2. High moral fiber
    3. Embracing simplicity
    4. Competitiveness
    5. Long-term focus
    6. Disdain for Waste
    7. Coach leadership
    8. Humility
    9. Rejection of bureaucracy
    10. Belief in Others
    11. Trust
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About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
This entry was posted in Leadership, Perform / Execution and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Less is More (Jason Jennings)

  1. Mark Herbert says:

    David,
    This is great stuff. As the author so aptly points out everything at the end of the day is sustemic and connected. Serial solutions don’t work.
    To quote Richard Rumelt and Marcus Buckingham our real role as leaders is to create clarity and connectedness. Remove the ambiguity.
    Thanks for sharing this!

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