Businesses are besotted with extracting what they see as more efficiency from their operations.
The instant they repeat their first success, most try to become “more efficient.”
It’s an occupation that generates its own jargon (efficiency is a perfectly acceptable word without further embellishment) and has, over the last 30 years or so, created a subsidiary economy of organizations seemingly expert at helping their clients (the original organizations) become more efficient (often with little direct experience in the host market).
It’s akin to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, a fictitious animal that is never actually caught, but which becomes an obsession with a barrister, a broker, and a banker (as well as a butcher, a baker and a beaver, among other persons and creatures).
I’d love to see data plotted as a curve showing returns on efficiency gained and costs seemingly saved, compared with returns on new products or services created and sales and profits gained.
As Seth Godin reminds us, the biggest danger in obsessively seeking to save a dollar is that we might eventually win, creating the worst product for the cheapest input price.
Markets (and the customers within them) always seek new products and services, and often better services and products. Value can always command a competitive price. Creating a competitive advantage other than price will always pull ahead, and always out you in command of your own destiny. And reinventing a market segment or product or service definition on your turns gives you advantage.
Saves you hunting mythical beasts.