Effective Resource Utilization
Too many organizations suffer from ineffective resource allocation. The problem may stem from various factors like inadequate delegation, employee burnout, or unclear direction, vision and goals. And the solution may lie in experimentation, for example reducing – yes, reducing – work hours, and studying what others who allocate resources well are doing and emulating them. Listen in for ideas you can bring to your organization.
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*Note: The following text is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors
Bill Berthel: Welcome to the Get Emergent podcast, where we discuss various leadership topics, team and organizational development ideas, and current leadership challenges and successes. I’m Bill Bertell.
Ralph Simone: And I’m Ralph Simone.
Bill Berthel: Ralph, we’ve got a great topic today. We wanna talk about effective resource allocation. What does that even mean to be effective in allocating our resources and our teams and our organizations?
Ralph Simone: Well, I wanna start with what I recognize is an ungrounded assessment. I believe that many people in most organizations are underutilized, that we are not allocating our resources in the most effective or optimal way. And, and by the way, I wanna be clear, I don’t mean that people are working a hundred percent of the time because first of all, I don’t think that’s sustainable and it’s probably not, you know, really, uh, good for their performance over time.
Bill Berthel: Well, I’m glad you said that because I think most of us feel busy. I know we like to overuse that word of being busy. We’ve talked in previous podcasts about that idea of being whelmed or overwhelmed. So what do you mean by utilized?
Ralph Simone: Well, I think it’s being able to get the job done that’s assigned, but also to be thinking about how to do the job differently. Also, to be thinking about what doesn’t need to get done. So I think when we think about effective utilization of people, there’s gotta be space for doing, thinking, being, experimenting, and you know, I mean, you brought up the word busy. You know, we don’t like people to use that word because I think the, you know, work is the path of least resistance.
But we don’t wanna just be doing the work. We wanna be thinking about the work. I mean, this is how companies get into these big cost overruns or margin erosion or too much overhead. They just kind of add, add, add, keep their headcount. And we’re really not looking at creative ways in which we could utilize the resources that are currently, uh, in our employment.
Bill Berthel: So we’ve got an opportunity to think about how we utilize our people, their talents, their contributions differently in our organizations.
Ralph Simone: Absolutely. I, I think one of the things that we, why we don’t utilize or allocate effectively is that we have many underdeveloped people. Mm. And you know, I, I think there are a lot of go-to people that are overutilized.
You know, we rely on them, you know, too much. And so we have to kinda look at, well, why aren’t we utilizing these people for this? And, and I think another reason is that we’re risk averse. Think about all of the resistance we get from people around delegation. They say, Well, you know, they’re, they’re not ready.
Or, I can do it fast, or I can do it better. Well, of course, of course. If you’ve done a particular task for a number of years. You can do it better, but how are we gonna scale the organization unless we give other people the opportunity to learn and grow?
Bill Berthel: And I love the two topics you just brought up of, you know, perhaps being underdeveloped.
I was just talking with a, a team of leaders, uh, just this week, and they want to grow their leaders and their people. It’s not resistance in that space, but it’s a competing priority. Yes. To being able to get things done, right? The, the strategic. And the tactical, not the strategic versus the tactical.
Ralph Simone: Well, that requires a change in thinking that you and I have talked about, which is both /and. How do we do the strategic and the tactical? How do we execute the work while developing more resources for future execution? One of the things regarding true delegation or giving people an opportunity, To step into their potential that I often challenge is, you know, people say, Well, they’re not ready.
I would contend that nobody is ready. Right? Um, the first time they do something, right? You know, you, you have to learn, grow and experiment. So if we use that criteria, you know, no one would get promoted, you know, no one would get additional responsibilities. And so I think there’s a conservative nature that is underpinning ineffective use of resources.
Bill Berthel: You’re being gracious. Sometimes I’m not ready the second or third time I’m doing a thing. But to your point, it’s, it’s not a hundred percent ready to delegate that off. It’s not a hundred percent ready to start thinking differently even. Right. We can be creative and experiment in our organizations and that word experiment I love, it gives us permission to try, to play out a different set of ideas or a different.
Ralph Simone: We keep resisting what is. We keep saying, Well, if we work harder, if we have more people, if we, you know, so we keep going back to the to, to the tried and true, but maybe it’s no longer true. So I think we need to think again on this topic. The other thing I think that really causes a lack of effective resource utilization is unclear direction, vision, and goals.
We’re so quick to act that people aren’t clear on what’s important, what’s essential, what’s unessential, what’s unimportant, and so we end up really working on things that don’t matter most. And I think this is an example of slowing down to go faster, of really looking at where are we going? And how else could we get there?
Bill Berthel: Yeah, you’ve called it taking that strategic pause so we can be more strategic in aligning what those goals are, what the expectations, so we can be much more intentional on our teams and in our organizations.
Ralph Simone: I can remember an example of the company that was really struggling. They were struggling to hit their margin targets and somebody from sales said, Well, we’ll make it up in volume.
Well, not necessarily. And you know, so you just do more of the same. Right? As opposed to looking at ways to how could we grow the margin and that requires this both/ and. Right? So we need to, we need to slow down and go faster. We need to execute and develop.
Bill Berthel: Absolutely. Absolutely. And then another way I think about slowing down is there’s over two decades of research showing that less than a 40 hour work week is more productive, more effective, and healthier for individuals.
Ralph Simone: So I’ve been practicing that for 31 years.
Bill Berthel: Well, you’re ahead of the research.
Ralph Simone: I mean, well, I usually am. But one, one of the things that happens here is, you know, so if you think about we overwork and so then we become, our utilization actually goes down. Right? And the, the productivity studies around, you know, every time you get interrupted, it takes longer to ramp back up.
Bill Berthel: I think they say 20.
Ralph Simone: Yeah. So you could take less time during the week, but be more focused and also be more balanced. Looking at tactical and strategic, executing and developing, and you know, the people are amazed at this, but for the last 32 years, I have taken six weeks off. I don’t take six weeks of vacation, but it’s six weeks out of the business.
You already actually force more effective utilization for the time when you are in the business. By removing some time. And then remove some time out of your day. So instead of working an eight hour day, you work a seven hour day, but you utilize, you know, yourself and your focus, your concentration, more effectively.
Bill Berthel: I love that. I love that. It’s so interesting how, so often the, uh, the antidote to what’s going on is almost in the compliment, during the opposite, right? It’s, it’s about slowing down here, it’s about effective utilization is not 100% grinding. It’s about being able to have those strategic pauses, have time out of the business or out of the work for restorative processes, recreating ourselves, re-energizing ourselves, better focus.
Ralph Simone: And I think there’s two things. People aren’t taking the time to look at it through different lens. I think people are also afraid to do it. You know, the, the courage to experiment. The courage to say there’s gotta be a better way. You know, I think we have some ideas as to how it could be better, but there are many ways in which it could be better.
But I believe that the belief that there is a better way to utilize our resources in an organization so that we’re spreading the load among more people, sharing the benefits among more people. And we’re actually raising the production capability of the entire organization.
Bill Berthel: So it starts with that permission to believe a little differently, giving yourself the permission to think about it differently and change your mindset.
Maybe it’s not all at once. Right? Where would you experiment? Where would you look for an opportunity to try something different?
Ralph Simone: Well, I think one of the things you need to do is find out what other people are doing. You, you, you, you reference the research. You know, who’s working less than 40 hours in hitting their numbers, and let’s find out what it is they’re doing.
I think too often when I was training, Malcolm Baldridge Quality Examiner, You know, one of the things they look for in a company is how much benchmarking did they do? Who’s out there best in class that utilizes their resources most effectively? And when you ask that question of leaders they don’t know, they, they, and I say, Well, where could you start?
So I think beginning to think about who’s doing this really, really well, and, uh, learn from them. I mean, it’s model. You know, when you teach somebody to ski, you know, one of the best ways a teacher beginner is to have ’em follow someone who’s really good so they can see and mimic and match the moves.
Bill Berthel: Emulate that model.
Ralph Simone: Yeah. So who’s out there that’s doing it really, really well? What are they doing differently than we are and where are we willing to start experimenting? I don’t think it’s as hard as we make it. But you know, it does require. The belief first that there must be a better way.
Bill Berthel: I think our call to action today for leaders is asking them to take a look at their utilization and what would they choose?
One small experiment to do something a little creatively, a little different.
Ralph Simone: Yeah. And I would even start with them if, if that’s where you were.
Bill Berthel: Yeah. Love that.
Ralph Simone: In other words, look at your week and, and start using it a little bit differently. And so you, you said something earlier, I think there’s, in the business, there’s on the business and then there’s out of the business.
Right. Go home a little earlier, Spend a little bit more time strategically this week. Change the math a little bit and then notice the impact on output. And you and in one week may not be enough to run that experiment to see the cause and effect.
Bill Berthel: Be sure to tune in every other week to listen to more GetEmergent podcasts.
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