Eliminate Waste to Stimulate Value-Shred Your Lettuce

Posted on 16-02-2012 , by: fusion , in , 0 Comments

This quote by President Franklin Roosevelt, a few generations ago, is as relevant today. Likewise, in todays’ economy, no one is immune from fiscal fluctuations. Post GFC, with a rising Australian dollar, it’s important to remember that financial accountability is everyone’s responsibility, whether bad times-or good.

In an earlier book, I wrote that the seven most expensive words in any organisation are: ‘We have always done it that way.’

The good news is that tough times offer a greater incentive to re-think our standard modus operandi. There’s no better time to eliminate waste-and stimulate value. It’s a good time to re-visit old strategies and assess what adds value – or simply cost – to each operation.

Here’s an excerpt from ‘Paperclips Don’t Grow on Trees-Add Value not cost to your bottom line’ that can help you think ofways to cut costs without sacrificing quality.


I worked for IBM for a decade-including a year with responsibility for their incentive events- and now run a small business as an author and speaker. Over the years, I’ve learned that whether large or small, there are only two ways to boost the bottom line-increase revenue or decrease expense. Sometimes, there is little that can be done to increase revenue so there’s a need to refocus on needless expense. I’m not talking about the slash and burn of staff but involving all staff in offering potential solutions.

For example, an airline made huge savings as a result of a suggestion from a new flight attendant. While clearing meal trays, he noticed that most passengers didn’t eat their lettuce and suggested the airline get rid of that garnish. This met initial resistance from the executive chefs but as the airline wished to encourage employee participation, they implemented a three month trial to remove the garnish; thinking it might save only a few hundred dollars but that they’d humour the employee who made the suggestion.

When they received no complaints from passengers, they stopped the lettuce completely and during one year, were amazed to learn that this resulted in savings of over $1.5 million!

Was the lettuce adding value or cost to the flight experience? Obviously, only cost. What is the equivalent of ‘lettuce’ in yourorganisation? What are you doing that you’ve always done that is adding cost – not true value – to every transaction and interaction with a customer or colleague?

Apologies to the lettuce farmers of this world – but it’s not all gloom and doom for them if you think how lettuce is now sold. Yes, you can buy a head of lettuce – organic or otherwise – in a supermarket or your local market. But you can also just buy a handful of lettuce leaves, already pre washed.

Yes, it costs more to buy in this manner but some consumers are more time sensitive than cost sensitive, so those who sell lettuce in small, already clean quantities, with no wastage, add value to many time-poor consumers. It could be argued that they are also adding cost (to both consumers and the environment) in terms of extra packaging. However, the point is that they are adding value by giving choice to that consumer who is happy to pay a bit more.

 Again, I ask you to reflect: ‘What is the equivalent of yourlettuce in your organisation? There’s no time like the present to shred the waste.


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