How strategic cost-cutting helps you shift from survival to growth

In a weak growth environment, with low investments and rising risks, companies gamble on cost-cutting to ensure that they are prepared and equipped to grow stronger, as they wait for better times to come. Yet, cost-cutting is more and more seen as a way to drive growth, rather than as way to survive or avoid insolvency.

With recession, macroeconomic concerns, digital disruption and commodity price fluctuations fueling uncertainty, Deloitte’s 2016 data illustrates this shift from survival to growth. Its fourth biennial cost survey shows that the ‘save to grow’ strategy of ‘using cost reduction to fund growth initiatives’ remains prominent today.

However, in 2016, many US companies were ‘simultaneously pursuing seemingly conflicting goals of aggressive growth and aggressive cost improvement’. Deloitte calls this the ‘thriving in uncertainty’ paradox.

Then, whatever the future holds, the key to cost programme success lies in ‘choosing a cost management strategy that aligns with your company’s needs and is capable of delivering the required level of savings’. In this context, tactical initiatives to pursue aggressive cost targets will not be enough, and are likely to be ‘a recipe for failure’, the report adds.

The change has to go deeper then, beyond tactics, reaching a strategic level. This means that a company’s most valuable assets, people and their talents, become top priorities, ‘consistent with a growth mindset, since having qualified workers and deploying them effectively is key to successful growth’, writes Deloitte.

READ MORE:
Why leaders with a clear vision connect innovation and strategic cost-cutting

FROM THE START:
Strategic cost-cutting and improvements in the innovation corporate agenda

Andreia Agostinho Dias, Sales Executive
Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO

Strategic cost-cutting and improvements in the innovation corporate agenda

At the end of the 20th century and in the early 21st century, CEOs were mainly focused on growth and innovation and on how these combined to deliver real results in organisations. Yet CEOs have become more pessimistic in the last decade, as world turmoil has intensified, innovation has failed to deliver the promised land and growth has become a more elusive and complex goal to reach.

Long-term stability is highly unlikely, and we all have questions and uncertainties churning in our heads, CEOs included. They are, right now, looking for answers and for ways to include their organisations in possible solutions.

Too much indecision remains

How will the European Union redefine itself and what will it mean for trading within and outside its borders? What impacts will Trump’s election have in the medium to long term, in the US, with its main partners, and also around the world? What’s next for the United Kingdom? Will Turkey still be in NATO in two years’ time? And how does all this combine with the ongoing work and technological revolution?

Political uncertainties can strongly impact the volatile financial markets, as the Euro area still recovers from the banking crisis, deals with Brexit, Catalonia’s separatist movement and with the refugees’ migration crisis. The huge Chinese economy is also expected to continue reflecting weak exports and decelerating investment and its growth has slowed to its lowest rate in 25 years (though still near 7 percent). Japan is stuck in a decades-long recession, while the US economy is highly dependent on political decisions, with outcomes difficult to foresee.

In a weak growth environment, with low investments and rising risks, companies gamble on cost-cutting to ensure that they are prepared and equipped to grow stronger, as they wait for better times to come. Yet, more and more, cost-cutting is understood as a way to drive growth, rather than as a way to survive or avoid insolvency, as we will next seen.

READ MORE:
How strategic cost-cutting helps you shift from survival to growth
Why leaders with a clear vision connect innovation and strategic cost-cutting
How to map costs for your innovation path to growth
How to introduce a cost-cutting strategy in your innovation initiative: step 1

Andreia Agostinho Dias, Sales Executive
Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO

Six best innovation practices to engage Millennials and Gen Zers

All businesses are created first by ideas. Then, once you are in business, you need new thinking for design, engineering, radical improvement, manufacturing, marketing, advertising, problem-solving, customer retention, etc. Often the difference between success or failure in business is a simple idea.

On the one hand, many corporations have limited resources, funds, and time to give creative dreamers sufficient power to produce breakthrough ideas. On the other hand, other companies have many ideas, but are short on ways to assess, screen, prioritise, leverage and execute them.

Disciplined and well-managed creativity breeds successful idea generation and cross-pollination. Idea management systems and processes can help your company make innovation a discipline. They can help make the hunt for new possibilities each and every department’s business, as well as involving broader and more enthusiastic participation among managers and employees.

As we have seen, building a collaborative innovation culture comes hand in hand with conquering Millennials and Generation Z. This means you not only have to promote innovative thinking in your organisation, but also have to get a feel and touch in your corporate culture that inspire and retain these new generations.

Finally, remember as well the following six best practices:

  • Have strong leadership and role modelling
  • Promote regular learning
  • Give employees self-improvement possibilities
  • Create free time for interests and new ideas
  • Encourage and reward ideas and creativity
  • Do not forget mobile and flexible platforms to reach employees

Any organisation’s most valuable resource is its people. That being so, the capacity to obtain and inspire the best, most innovative and competent employees and to attract the leaders of tomorrow is the ultimate key for your company’s success.

FROM THE START:
Loyalty is no longer enough to both employers and the workforce

Aylin Olsun, managing partner of ASO Company
Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO

Why is innovation management a powerful tool to engage Generations Y and Z

Large companies looking for creative and transforming ideas need to leverage innovation management to conquer employees, particularly Gen Zers and Millennials. Those leading must develop the mindset and organisational structures to empower these younger generations and help them reach full potential, while being part of their company’s evolution.

Being able to align an individual’s everyday work and goals clearly with the organisation’s strategy gets people to think in new ways and imagine new possibilities. It makes it easy for employees to see how their contributions matter.

An innovation management software can help you share your company’s vision and strategy, get people involved, and continuously find new answers, as change becomes constant. Additionally, by including evaluation mechanisms, these sophisticated platforms give the community the chance and means to assess, as a whole, the ideas presented – thus harnessing and activating your company’s collective intelligence.

Idea management software (such as Exago Smart) also promotes a collaborative culture, for individuals and the community, answering directly to the main needs and motivations of both Millennials and Generation Z, as the following table shows:

innovation management to engage generations y and z

As innovation becomes the natural way of doing business for both these generations, organisations should focus on gathering and maximising their potential. The greater challenge, however, lies in managing this process in an efficient, collaborative and transparent way, using technology as a bridge to make their voices and contributions a real part of the corporate evolutionary path.

READ MORE:
Six best innovation practices to engage Millennials and Gen Zers

FROM THE START:
Loyalty is no longer enough to both employers and the workforce

Aylin Olsun, managing partner of ASO Company
Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO

Millennials and innovation in the workplace

In 2016, Deloitte collected the points of view of nearly 7,700 Millennials representing 29 countries around the globe. All participants had been born after 1982, had obtained a college or university degree, were employed full-time, and predominantly worked in large (100+ employees) private-sector organisations.

We have said it already: Millennials represent an increasing share of the workforce. Moreover, they are no longer leaders of tomorrow; they are, increasingly, leaders of today. As such, understanding their views on how business works and how it should conduct itself goes beyond mere academic interest.

According to Deloitte’s Millennials survey, if given the choice, one in four Millennials would leave his or her current employer to join a new organisation or to do something different. That figure increases to 44 per cent when the time frame is expanded to two years. Why are they so eager to leave their organisations? By 2020, the research adds, 40 per cent of employees will be self-employed or entrepreneurs.

This ‘loyalty challenge’ is driven by a variety of factors. Millennials, in general:

Feel under-utilised and believe they are not being developed as leaders or using their full potential in large-scale organisations. They express little loyalty to their current employers and many are planning near-term exits. Regardless of gender or geography, only 28 per cent of Millennials feel that their current organisations are making ‘full use’ of the skills they currently would like to offer. Millennials believe businesses are not doing enough to bridge the gap to ensure a new generation of business leaders is created.

They think that businesses should be more ethical and society more focused. They share positive views of businesses’ role in society. Millennials feel that most businesses have no ambition beyond profit, and that there are distinct differences between what they believe the purpose of business should be and what they currently perceive it to be.

Personal values have the greatest influence on Millennials’ decision-making. Millennials often put their personal values ahead of organisational goals, and several have shunned assignments (and potential employers) that conflict with their beliefs. Only when their personal values match with the organisation’s values do they say they would like to continue to work there.

The values that support long-term business success are treatment of people, ethics, and customer focus. Deloitte asked Millennials, ‘What are the most important values a business should follow if it is to have long-term success?’ They responded that businesses should put employees first, and that they should have a solid foundation based on trust and integrity. Customer care and high-quality, reliable products also ranked relatively highly in importance. Attention to the environment and social responsibility were also mentioned by a significant number of Millennials. It is noteworthy that few (five per cent) of those answering thought profit-focused values would ensure long-term success.

• Millennials are not anti-profit profiles and recognise money-making as a vital component of business success. They would simply advise against placing too much emphasis on short-term profit maximisation.

The link between Millennials’ loyalty and their feelings about business is not a coincidence. Large-scale organisations are not able to respond sufficiently to Millennials’ preferences. Companies need to be more agile, innovative and inclusive to recover the current deficits in the organisational culture. Thus, those organisations that ‘do the right thing’ may be less likely to lose their Millennial employees. Learning, listening, empowering and sharing are the key actions for them.

Next, we’ll look closer at the generation that follows.

READ MORE:
Generation Z and innovation in the workplace

FROM THE START:
Loyalty is no longer enough to both employers and the workforce

Aylin Olsun, managing partner of ASO Company
Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO