In many families living at the poverty level, they are scraping by, but if one thing goes wrong then they are sinking like a rock financially. A kid gets sick, the car breaks down, the electricity bill is a little higher than normal etc. then they can’t make ends meet. Many times, a business is in that same situation. If your normal outgo is almost identical to your normal intake with no profit or money put away for future needs, then what do you do when the inevitable “something” comes up?
In personal finance, one principle is to work a little more so that you can save up an “emergency fund” so that when those little things happen in life they don’t become emergencies. It won’t take care of real emergencies, but it does mean that the water pump going out on the car doesn’t put you into a financial tailspin.
In business, it is the same. If you find that there are to many areas of your organization that are getting by on the idea that nothing can go wrong or they are underwater, then you need to take a drastic look at changing things.

For example: Where I work, almost every department is “getting by” while understaffed. The university has worked hard on its 15 year plan to reduce the number of courses each full time professor is expected to teach as part of his/her contract. The problem is that this has not been offset by hiring of sufficient faculty to make up for the reduced teaching loads and take into consideration the constant growth of the school. We have averaged 100 students a year growth since 1992! The crazy I would like to propose is that we quit kidding ourselves about the “ideal teaching loads” and go back to teaching 5 or even 6 classes as our contract load. For those of you outside academia who read this, I am suggesting the basic idea of working a 60 hour week for the 40 hour pay. This would save the institution money in the short run which could free up funds for the hiring of additional faculty in the long run. It would also allow us to do our primary duty which is to offer all of the courses to the students that are needed for those students to graduate. The increased teaching load could be offset some by reducing the expectations of professional service (Involvement in professional organizations) and by reducing the expectations of professional publication.

(I think I heard the thud of someone on the faculty fainting and their body hitting the floor as they read this.)

What could your business do that might seem ludicrous to even suggest but that would make things run better for the organization?


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