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Scarcity Driven Innovation - Why Resourcefulness Beats Resources

Ty Anderson

We’ve all heard the adage “work expands to the time available.” The same goes for a budget on a project; whatever amount you allocate (both time and money) will get used (and then some). Now, add in the fact that the company is having a pretty good year and matters get worse. Headcount grows, consultants are hired, technology projects get bloated and then all of a sudden the s#*t hits the fan. Numbers are missed for multiple quarters and the company is faced with a RIF (reduction in force), customers are lost, competitors get stronger...you get the picture. But once you’ve cut all you can cut, now what?

Look to cash strapped start-ups for the answers. These smaller companies never had the luxury of financial resources but what they had was the gift of scarcity. Combine scarcity of resources with the need to grow (and make payroll) and the only option is resourcefulness.

This sounds so counter-intuitive...the “gift” of scarcity can be more valuable than having a huge team with lots of financial resources? With the right leadership, the answer is yes.

Scarcity requires people and teams to focus. With time and money limited, people can’t afford to explore every option, hire consultants, send RFP’s and ask permission. They quickly pick a path and get going.

Scarcity also requires teams get started now. With limited time, every hour becomes important. Most teams, whether they know it or not, are applying the Pareto Principle a/k/a the 80/20 rule to streamline their thinking and approach.

Scarcity also forces creativity. With time and money limited, you can’t simply follow existing models. You have to create something new. People who claim “I’m not creative” suddenly become sources of new ideas.

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