Less is more (or more is less): in life, at work… and in software
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Think about it for a moment: Why did you buy your car? To own it or for transportation reasons? Supposing your answer is the latter, allow me to remind you that any alternative (taxi, tube, bike), would meet the same objective without all of the costs related to having a car: petrol, avoidable fines, inevitable repairs, the obligatory insurance or the excessive time -therefore money- that you spend daily whilst looking for a parking space or enduring traffic jams. But even if you still feel the need to drive, I am sure you will agree that it would be cheaper to rent a car for a few hours. So you need a car to be able to move around within the city centre?Rent a small car. Tomorrow’s day trip? A four wheel drive. Do you need to impress a client? A sportscar would be a good option. Swap ‘buy’ for ‘rent’ and ‘own’ for ‘share’ and you will see how the same amount of cash goes a lot further. Try CarSharing and choose the car you need today, try CouchSurfing and enjoy the feeling of having a place to stay in any city in the world.
This is the ownerless age: own less to enjoy more.
Successful companies have been defined for decades by the old meaning or ‘more’. This meaning implies the possession of superior conditions over and above that of the competition. Until recently, the example to follow has been set by those corporations that have a presence in MORE countries, that bill MORE or that have MORE employees. Companies whose employees compete in order to gain HIGHER salaries that enable them to buy BIGGER cars and go on MORE luxurious holidays. In actual fact, the financial crisis, the first during the digital age, forces us to re-evaluate the meaning of ‘more’. And we are reminded that:
- Being physically present in more places (being a ‘multinational’) is not essential in order to be global.
- Billing more does not mean more gain: gross margin was always a relevant concept although less charismatic than billing.
- Having more employees does not mean being stronger, as demonstrated by the ‘falling of giants’ such as; Lehman Brothers or General Motors. Even more-so in Spanish markets where employees are prized for a more historical start date rather than for their productivity.
I recently heard an entrepreneur say very proudly, that his staff was very ‘two-point-o’. “We are made up of my wife and me, full-stop”, he joked as he explained how well things were going with his employment of this microstructure. This made me reflect upon the model that my partner (in Spanish) and I chose one day for Poko (in Spanish) that was in that day put to question. The model that had abandoned the path to the ‘big company’ in order to try and become a ‘great company’, that gave up its ambition to gain (more) in order to seek excellence (better).
I must confess that I become more proud each day of belonging to a company that does not fear decline, that continuously optimizes its structure in order to contribute more value whilst using less resources. I believe this makes us better for our clients. If there is something I am more certain of each day, it is that companies that can get through this crisis are not going to be ‘big companies’ but ‘sustainable companies’. Tendencies such as Cloud Computing, Software as a Service, Crowdsourcing or Free software -which I will go into in more detail in the next post- make it possible for any businessperson to manage key areas without the need to create large departments. Because as they say; ‘it is not he who has more that is richer if not he who needs less‘.