What's Your Big Idea?

Posted by: Jena McGregor on January 27, 2009

Back in December, I posted here on Management IQ about a special upcoming package we’re working on about game-changing management ideas. The business world may be gripped in the throes of extraordinary change. While that means some companies, and indeed, wholesale industries, are rapidly declining, others are making radical bets to transform their businesses and come out of this recession stronger than ever.

Necessity, after all, is the mother of invention. That’s one reason we’re devoting an upcoming special report to the most breakthrough management ideas at work—or in development—today. What are the fresh insights, bold thinking and smart tactics that you’re using at your company in these challenging times? What’s worked and what hasn’t? What new ways are you looking to manage and compensate people? How are you setting strategy in such uncertain times? How does globalization fit into your business when the world is changing on a dime? How are you keeping innovation alive in your company?

Tell us here. Or, send me an email at jena_mcgregor@businessweek.com

Reader Comments

Midwest

January 29, 2009 5:07 PM

Innovative ideas? You've got to be kidding. My company just fired dozens of its first string team in order to lose the salaries and then kept the second stringers on because they're cheaper. Of course, none of our "coaches" got the boot. Didn't Circuit City do the same thing a couple of years ago and now they're liquidating their stores?? Fire your best and brightest because they're a little pricier than the up and comers and you get what you pay for- inexperience and a lower overall productivity and often enough, a well deserved bankruptcy.

Mark Dreier

February 2, 2009 12:00 AM

What innovation? Instead of sreamlining our talent pool and focusing on sustaining and growing ourselves, the company fired dozens of "expensive" "resources". Trying not to be judgemental here, but most of these people were very talented senior staff, and now the burden shifts to the less skilled juniors many of whom can't manage their new responsibilities.

Some of the folks who were kicked out even proposed furloughs and pay cuts but the axe still came down hard and fast. None of the managers were consulted even about their direct reports.

Bhawar Patel

February 9, 2009 3:24 PM

Ours is a small organization and we cut expenses to the bone. Kept the brightest talent and reduced hours for under performers. While Payroll can be controlled, there are fixed operating costs that really bite into the bottom line. Unfortunately those are not easy/quick to change and therefore we are living on razor thin margins. If we stay afloat in this downturn, we will certainly emerge better with mature and skilled staff when times get better.

Pendelton Leuer

February 13, 2009 8:50 PM

The best advice I would give is to stop. Stop. What exactly…your current practices. Companies are continuing on the same way but cutting back on the “talent” and attempting to reign in profit by “cutting costs”. The only problem is that no one is accomplishing this. Why not? Mostly because no one is stopping to think. Most firms are following the pack. Handing out golden parachutes because that’s what others are doing and then continuing business as if nothing happened with the same “strategic plan” that they developed 12, 18 or 24 months prior to the economic downtown. My opinion is that you examine your company and find out who really belongs there. Not by how long they have been with the organization but more importantly by why they stay and what tangible items they contribute. You can always find a strategic planning guru because all they do is sit around and talk and type about the future; but when you get down to it they are merely speculating and not actually providing your firm with a hard asset. By keeping the employees that add tangible value and enjoy their job you will end up a head of the pack when the economy upswings (returns to normalcy). So please for everyone’s sake – STOP LOOK & LISTEN!

Tia Diamond

March 1, 2009 12:51 PM

The top companies I hear are utilizing wireless logistics software companies such as CHEETAH SOFTWARE SYSTEMS to lower costs and boost productivity.

Jim Smith

March 24, 2009 1:52 AM

We provide our clients with a completely unique approach to earnings improvement. The traditional consulting approach is to spend weeks or months gathering data, weeks formulating solutions and eventually making recommendations. Now management has to decide whether to implement the recommendations, which may take a year. Pay the consulting bills and keep an eye out for the savings to appear.
Our proven approach reduces enterprise wide SG&A by an average of 10%,takes only ten weeks to complete and the client's break even against the fees is less than three weeks. While this approach is itself unique, we get 100% of the ideas from the client's employees. In one example of a large utility:(7000 suggestions in five weeks resulting in a sustainable $300 million SG&A reduction and 1850 fewer layoffs than were foretasted). All this because we figured out a way to suspend the client's culture and politics for ten weeks and asked the CEO and his staff to listen. The process took ten years to perfect and takes a special CEO, one willing to listen, but when all the cuts are made the employees are quite a bit more positive because the solutions were theirs, not the consultants. No one likes to see employees leave, but it's even worst when outsiders make all the decisions. No consultants will ever know as much about the company as the employees, management just needs to learn how to get out of their way for a few weeks, and that's what we teach our client CEO's to do. It's a lesson that's been worth hundreds of millions to those who have used the process, and has saved thousands of jobs. Announcing layoffs even before you know the who or the how sends a message that employees are the target rather than expenses. A message they'll remember every morning on the way to work.

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How can you manage smarter? Bloomberg Businessweek contributors synthesize insights from the brightest business thinkers, critique the latest management trends, and comment on leaders in the news.

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