Strategy

Achieve More with Fewer Resources

By Alison DeNisco

It’s been commanded of IT departments, it seems, from the very beginning of corporate IT: Do more with less. There are ways to pull it off, however. In his new book Stretch, Rice University management professor Scott Sonenshein explains how to use constraints to make your company more creative and adaptable.

Alison DeNisco writes, “The dotcom bubble saw the rise and fall of many promising tech companies, including those with intelligent team members and lots of initial funding. Scott Sonenshein, the Henry Gardiner Symonds Professor of Management at Rice University, was working in Silicon Valley at the time of the bust, and realized that most companies had been measuring success in terms of the number of resources they could attain, instead of fully utilizing what they started with.

“‘One of the reasons organizations have a hard time adapting is they get very stuck in the way they use their existing resources,’ Sonenshein said. ‘You can build your whole business model around trying to acquire more resources, but it’s more important to be able to use what you have in more creative and engaged ways.’

“The experience inspired the research found in Sonenshein’s book Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less—and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagine …. The concept of ‘stretching’ is about learning to work with the resources you already have—including time, money, connections, knowledge, and tangible objects—to achieve a business goal.

“‘You have a lot more value in your resources than you realize,’ Sonenshein said. ‘When you get into the stretching mind-set, you better appreciate what you have, and better use what you have.’

“Stretching also helps enterprises be more creative, and allows them to view their resources in new ways to adapt to change, he said. ‘It’s hard to control how many resources flow into use—can we always get the hiring we want, is capital always accessible?’ Sonenshein said. ‘What we can control and build competencies on is how we can actually use what we have. Whether benevolent resources or difficult resources, if we know how to stretch, we can face whatever those circumstances might be.’”

Read on for 10 ways to stretch at your company.