But expert advises that cutbacks can actually be a catalyst for "lean
KINGSTON, ON, June 29 /CNW/ - A survey of over 200 working managers and
executives reveals that many employers are cutting back in response to the
current economic climate. Almost three quarters (72 per cent) of the
participants who are completing their Executive MBA at Queen's School of
Business in boardroom learning teams across Canada indicated that their
organizations are spending less than they were two years ago.
However, an expert in operations and technology at Queen's School of
Business doesn't feel that these widespread cutbacks necessitate a slowdown in
innovation, if they are treated as inspiration for positive change.
"The scarce resources and short-term focus that often come with a tough
economy are not barriers to innovation if executives choose the right 'less'
and focus resources on improving skill sets for employees and enhancing the
core value offerings to their customers," said Barry Cross, Lecturer in
Operations Management and Technology at Queen's School of Business.
"Innovative companies are finding ways to maintain that spirit of creativity,
and establish some type of balance with efficiency in their day-to-day
Professor Cross sites the video rental company Zip.ca as an example of
"lean innovation." "Zip.ca has eliminated the in-store customer experience and
enhanced the model to create new value elsewhere. Unlike traditional rental
stores, they have no costly real estate, but have a substantial, centralized
video inventory. They also have adopted the Internet subscription model, where
your personalized selections are delivered by mail."
The same size, but better
While there has been employee attrition in all industries, the Queen's
Executive MBA respondents said that cost containment isn't coming primarily in
the form of staffing cuts. In fact, six in ten (62 per cent) believe the size
of their organization's workforce is likely to stay the same or even increase
in the next six months. Additionally, almost three quarters (73 per cent) of
those surveyed express little or no concern over their own job security over
the next six months.
"If you look at your workforce performance and capabilities in a bell
curve, consider what you can do with the group on the lower left of the
curve," said Cross. "Could you coach or provide additional training to help
them reach a higher level of performance, or failing that, replace them with
some of the all-stars currently in the job market? Take the opportunity of the
slower business climate to shift the overall performance curve of your
operation to the right."
The road ahead
The Queen's MBA survey also reveals optimism on future management of
organizations and recovery:
- 65 per cent of respondents at Queen's think the financial downturn
"will" cause a long-term, fundamental change in how Canadian
companies are managed, and 79 per cent believe it "should."
- 85 per cent see light at the end of the tunnel and believe we will
see economic recovery in the next two years.
The research was conducted between May 22nd and May 31st with 239 members
of the EMBA and AMBA classes at Queen's School of Business located in Toronto,
Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. Survey participants
responded to questions via the One Touch technology currently used in the
program to allow students to be polled on-demand, communicate with the
instructor and "electronically raise their hand."
About Queen's School of Business:
Queen's School of Business (business.queensu.ca) is one of the world's
premier business schools - renowned for exceptional programs, outstanding
faculty and research, and the quality of its graduates. Canadian executives
regard Queen's as Canada's most innovative business school, offering students
academic excellence and a superior overall experience. Queen's School of
Business - where Canada's first Commerce program was launched in 1919 - is
located at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. The School also delivers
programs at locations across Canada, as well in the U.S. and the United Arab
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