Companies need to consider pruning a part of their regular maintenance program and operational design. It helps drive efficiencies and optimize results when carefully executed. Consider the following before you start.
- Information – Pruning requires that you have good information before you begin. Not everything can be pruned and, in some cases, requires a specific approach that may or may not help you meet your objective. An example would be that since many businesses utilize the Internet heavily, there is a great temptation to attack physical space first, reducing the footprint and the cost. Without careful evaluation and information regarding the cause and effect you may make a mistake and in the worst case scenarios – the front door on your virtual location is not friendly or able to handle the business requirements but you are penalized by the landlord by paying for space you no longer occupy. Add to the injury if your staff, business community and customers do not have the information they need to accept what they view as too deep a cut.
- Intent – All pruning should be objective based, rather than because you think you should make cuts. It is also impossible to save your way to wealth. Even if you cut, there will be other investments you make. Are you able to accomplish your intended result if you cut and cannot make the related investments? Over the past few years staffing has often been cut so severely that no one, including the owner, accomplishes what they need to. It feels like the business is in a continuous loop of simply trying to tread water and not making any forward movement. Even if the immediate intent is survival, is it a result worthy of continuance or is it simply a delay of the inevitable. In some cases, the requirement is more than pruning.
- Plan – Your pruning of any one area must be a part of an overall plan that meets your vision and requirements. There is nothing worse than when you look at a landscape and it looks like the local kindergarten class had been turned loose. In companies, if your plan does not integrate any area impacted by the pruning, you will most likely have to stop the process once started and it is often costly.
- Timing – Pruning requires timing. Pruning at the wrong time or too often may cause irreparable damage and either stunt or destroy what you are pruning. An example that recently occurred was when a company, in making staffing cuts, decided to release a key person from his responsibilities. They were looking at the budget and not the impact. The person was their key person and the only person with the relationships and credentials to deal with a labyrinth of government requirements. They were in the middle of government required documents with a due date that would literally stop them from being able to sell their product. Additionally, he was the only one who knew how to steer the newest initiative they had already announced through the same labyrinth.
- Risk – Pruning always has risk. Even if you are a pro at pruning, not everything will survive the cuts. Even with the best information, you do not know how things you do not control will impact what you have cut. Very recently a company that made some cuts and realigned people as well as roles - in essence transplanting, knew that there would be some loss. That was already a part of the plan. What was not in the plan is the immediacy of the reaction creating a brain drain and probably challenges in relationships. They may end up with all bosses and no workers. The cut will be below the graft.
- Reward – When you are done pruning, what will you have achieved through your pruning. Will new growth start from deeper within rather than just on the surface? Will deadwood be eliminated? Will the impact of the results and the new growth occur fast enough or are you going to be looking at the barren nubs when everyone else has blooms reaping the fruit of their labor.
It is easy to get carried away when pruning, as there is a certain power that comes with the work that may take on a life of its own. Taking a bit of time to go through the points listed before pruning will ensure that your result delivers the blooms you want to see.