With the economy in shambles and the end nowhere on the horizon, the do more with less expectation is at its peak. Institutions normally constructed with layers of management are now more streamlined empowering former “underlings” to take on a more responsible role.

Two distinct consequences have emerged from this new corporate restructure.    Take for example what is very much considered a rather mundane purchase…office supplies.  Before, a secretarial or receptionist type was not granted the authority to decide from whom these necessities would be acquired.  Instead, an office manager or even a formal purchaser had to be consulted.  Even considering the miniscule share of the operating budget that office products consumed, the decision process was often long, bureaucratic, and basically inefficient.  Meetings were held and committees formed to handle what should have and could have been a quick analysis by the same secretary or receptionist charged with truly compiling the orders.   

 It now appears as though we have two extremes emerging.    Without upper management getting involved, the newly empowered purchaser is making rapid changes to formerly stagnant business relationships.  No longer subjected to the “this is how we’ve always done it” mantra, the newly appointed decision maker realizes that there is a virtual world of options and every dollar that can be protected is easily saved by re-evaluating vendor relationships.  Sticking with our example, cheap office supplies are all over the internet and available for next day delivery thus the old procurement method is all but obsolete.   Consequently, this seemingly insignificant “underling” has actually quickly improved her efficiency and those around her simply by having more authority to do so.

On the other hand, the sudden responsibility granted to persons previously accustomed to receiving their dictates has produced the ultimate in business gridlock.  Whereas some are quick to explore and move on to new methods, others are  wary  of the consequences that their decision would have and therefore decide to do nothing.  In other words, they are paralyzed with the fear of making a mistake.   What happens if they switch to Avery labels versus the old brand?  While hardly an executive decision, the individual that is incapable of such a minor decision ultimately hurts the company.   This is not an argument for rash decision making but with immediate access to information, it is too easy to become quickly educated and itinvolves no effort.    An immobile business is a dead business in this rough economy.   To succeed in this harsh environment, businesses must remain flexible and be ready to adjust on a dime.   Having the right people is essential to making this happen.

In today’s challenging economy a company must be comprised of confidently responsible individuals competent enough to help the company navigate through these trying times.   Anyone less is a needless weight.