1/29/2009

Corporate Survival Guide: Dollars and Nonsense

In these times of economic hardship, what do you think your boss wants the most? Right: a foot massage and tickets to the game this weekend. But close behind those is their desire for a solution to the company's dire situation.

Face it: the economy's in the tank, nobody is buying anything, and companies have to start eating their young just to survive.

But it's times like these in which the battle-ready corporate Warrior can not only survive, but thrive.

What you should do now is to spend about a minute thinking about how the company can cut costs, and then spend weeks slaving over charts, slides and meetings, and schmoozing the management chain until they know you better than they know the local barista.

The important thing here is that it is irrelevant what solutions you come up with, or even if they will work; the executives are all so confused that they'll try any sorry plan that comes along. And if that sorry plan came from you, all the better for your career.

Here are some quick ideas to get you started: you should be able to turn any one of these into a full-blown Plan for Economic Corporate Knowledge Recovery (PECKR):
  • Pay cuts for executives: Let this one sit there in silence for a couple of seconds, and then crack up. The execs in the room will love this joke, and they will know that you are one of them. Then get onto the real suggestions.
  • Pay toilets: Every employee uses the facilities in the company several times a day. Think what it could mean to the bottom line if per-use fees went toward corporate revenues. But consider your audience: make sure that you propose that the executive washroom is still free.
    This one is in the can.
  • Waterless urinalsThis one hits two hot buttons at once: cost and eco-friendly green-managed enviro-ware business. You've probably seen the waterless toilets in different public or corporate environments. It's a great idea, saving water that can then be spent washing your hands more after dealing with urinals that had no water. But it still costs money for the fancy urinals and the mechanisms inside. Let's take this a step further, and go back to our societal roots: what about simply a hole that went down through the building and into the ground? Now we're saving money on water and on the fixtures.I call it "The in-house outhouse". It's going to be huge.
  • Car wash: The company could hold a local car wash to raise money, with the employees of the company donating their weekend time to make it happen. To raise awareness of the event, all executive cars would be washed (for free) to start it off. It works for the cheerleading squad at the local high school; surely it can save the company, too.
  • Cube compression: It's easy to come up with spreadsheets that show savings when you start dealing with real estate, because nobody really knows how much the company is spending on any of that. Come up with a plan to cut cube sizes in half, thus reducing overall worker square footage and the amount of real estate required by the company. Of course, the company won't be able to actually lease or sell that extra space in this down market, which is why you'll propose that until it's sold, that extra space will go into larger executive suites, including a bowling alley.
The observant reader will probably notice that many of these ideas draw money from the hard-working employees of the company itself. This is intentional, because the executives would love to figure out how to get some of that money back. If they can do that while also making money for the company, you're plan is safe. Or at least your plan will be attempted long enough to get you onto the fast track, and nobody will ever remember the complete mess that your plan made later on.

Remember: It's not about saving the company; it's about advancing your career.
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