(NOTE 07/21/10: I just found this really interesting article from CNBC titled "Consumers Beating Manufacturers at Their Own Game." It looks at how consumers, raw from job losses, climbing costs, and economic upheaval have become more frugal and less wasteful. The comparisons to the manufacturing industry and how its businesses are run are compelling.)
A colleague and I were talking shop the other day, and she asked this very compelling question.
Certainly, choosing what and where to eliminate waste is important. And despite the environment in which we've had to make those choices, it's not an altogether bad thing for a business' long-term vitality.
But manufacturing in general - and small & medium sized manufacturers especially - have had to make some brutally tough choices over the past 2 years. It' pure agony, determining what or who to do without.
(I know, could've said "the past 20 years" - but follow me here ...)
Most small manufacturing companies are naturally lean to survive (or exist). That doesn't mean they're Kaizen geniuses - just that they have the instincts in place and fewer layers of management. That makes 'em more agile, but it also means that the options for what to cut in abysmal economic conditions is tougher.
Less waste, less options.
So have you cut customer service activities to reduce costs? If not, what have you cut? Sales? Marketing? Have you laid off employees, or fired "bad" customers? Have you been forced to weaken your customer-facing resources to survives?
MOJO wants to know.