Multiplication by Subtraction

It could happen to you.  A crucial member of your staff leaves.  You have a decision to make.  Do you replace or not?

A company owner I recently talked to was faced with that complicated  decision.  Replacing the employee would have been the logical choice; it would have filled out the team and made customers feel better.  It would have been business as usual.   

But this owner is more savvy than most.  She had read the book Multiplication by Subtraction by Shannon Waller and Jayne Stymiest and also knew about the Subtraction Technique in innovation.  She asked herself, “I wonder if those things could work for me?”  She went through the five steps of the Subtraction Technique. 1.List all the components.
2.Select an essential component and imagine removing it.
3.Visualize the result (no matter how strange it would seem).
4.What are the potential benefits and value?
5.If you decide it is beneficial and of value, is it feasible?
Subtraction is a powerful technique because it breaks rigidity and forces you to imagine the organization delivering some new benefit.

The owner in the end, did not replace the employee and was pleasantly surprised by the positive benefits.  The morale of the rest of the team improved, pricing models became more accurate which has improved profitability, and customers were not impacted.

An example of the Subtraction Technique in action was recently unveiled by Amazon at their new Go store in Seattle.  Imagine a store with no cashiers and no lines.  Check it out.

What do you see when you look at the “essential” components of your business?

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