The economy is in chaos, and many of the world’s richest countries are coming to terms with immense debt and a disenfranchised workforce. Dr. Bruce Piasecki, author of the forthcoming Doing More With Less: The New Way To Wealth says that while this pressure cooker presents major challenges to business–and to society in genera–it also offers unique opportunities to the firms that recognize the wisdom of acting thriftily, and capitalize on them.
Insteading had the chance to ask Dr. Piasecki a few questions about this new approach to thinking about and doing business in a shifting economic paradigm. Here’s what he had to say:
INS: What’s the biggest difference between the path to wealth/success that you advocate in the book, and the way most people pursue it in today’s society and business world?
Dr. Piasecki: What I write about in Doing More With Less is both a forgotten and proven path of wealth thru industriousness and competitive frugality. Many greats have followed this path from Ben Franklin to the great World War II writer E. F. Schumacher in his work “Small is Beautiful.” But today its themes mean more to a world of 7 billion souls, with limited water, energy, and opportunity.
In my years as a management consultant working for large global firms, I find three competing things true:
1. Most people fall into patterns of professional discourse and entrenched spirals of peer argumentation. Lawyers, engineers, corporate planners get narrow, risk adverse.
2. I advocate that we can, and must, remember our first sense of being competitive in a different way and go back at it again and again, each day.
3. This primal self of invention and frugality allows new growth, even in mature adults. We must look at the full glory of creating and keeping wealth, not just the material gains that come from it, which includes the value of social capital. This is possible by learning from Ben Franklin - frugality, inventiveness, and diplomacy.
INS: Why is it so important for emerging companies to adopt a “doing more with less” mentality, rather than trying to emulate the status quo?
Dr. Piasecki: The “Doing More with Less” mentality is a healthy lens through which we can look at this newly globalized world of scarcity and alarm. You can see this in the 30 years of practice at my firm, where firms as different as Warren Buffett’s Shaw Industries and Toyota found value in our approach to competitive frugality. Once you learn to participate in this new, larger form of social wealth creation, the world becomes a more intelligible and acceptable place. I also believe that operating in this mindset can help a new company flourish in a world that is likely to be capital- and carbon-restrained. This is why Doing More with Less is the mantra for success for a life, your family, your firm, whether large or small today. Franklin shows that we all must become frugal, innovative and peace loving again, as we all share this same boat and the same seas.
INS: What’s your perspective on the (very tech-based) collaborative consumption/P2P industry and their potential to impact the business world?
Dr. Piasecki: I find great promise here. We live in a swift and severe world, as I described in my previous book. However, you can ride [the] with wave with more certainty and success if you consider the principles outlined in the personal narratives of Doing More With Less. The two books are sisters in a family that answers this question about new potential.
In addition, Social networks and the ability to share workloads among people in different parts of the world ties directly to my message. We do this every day in my management firm, where seasoned seniors work with new economist and recent college grads.
In a world that is ever increasingly connected and transparent, we need to harness technology to the maximum societal benefit, in a way that spreads democracy and global well-being. We must change the machines not just the laws, and most important, we must avoid the dangerous dance of excessive debt and become again self determining.
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