The Law of Diminishing Returns… Kind Of

So, I don’t remember what math class I learned about the Law of Diminishing Returns. Probably Pre-Calculus or Calculus. That’s a moot point. The point is that, today, while I was driving, I realized that speeding is pretty pointless. I was driving to a place 46 minutes away. I’m often the kind of driver who tries to figure out how to beat the clock. Where can I cut corners (either in speed or backroads) to get where I’m supposed to get anywhere from 2 – 5 minutes earlier?

Today, I did the math and it hit me. By speeding, I’m not really making a sizable dent in my time and I’m risking a lot more. In order to go 20 more miles in an hour, I have to consistently drive 20 miles over the speed limit. That 20 mph could very well lose me my license, ultimately costing me in insurance and Uber/Lyft fees. That being said, anything above 10 mph is a risk that isn’t really worth it.

Apply that to your life: Are you staying awake just to stay awake? Are you in the gym just to be in the gym, hours pas the point of productivity? At a certain point, you’re putting out more bull🤬 than quality thoughts. That bull🤬 is a liability to your brand. So, do the responsible thing. Push yourself to a reasonable point, get some rest, and go at it hard again. But make sure you go at it after you rest.


Make efficiency a priority.


Don’t Wait Until Monday

I haven’t ran more than six miles at one time since 2015. I’ve done quite a few five-milers and even an accidental six here and there but today, I went out and did seven solid miles on an unforgiving hilly trail.

The thing is, I wanted to wait until Monday to “get back.” I figured it made sense to start on the first day of the week. But who made up these asinine rules that you have to start and end at a certain time to be effective? Who informed us that we have to look a certain way to succeed?

Don’t wait until Monday to go for a run. Don’t wait until 8 AM to start being productive. Don’t wait until January 1, 2019 to make the changes that you know need to be made right now. Life is short. Yesterday is a memory. Tomorrow is a fantasy. All we have is now and, right now, I’m telling you to break the rules of conventionality and do it with such confidence that everyone around you wonders why they too are not living with such freedom.


Make being effective more of a priority than looking effective.

Let Me Do What You Pay Me For

Would you have the CEO scrubbing the bathroom floors?  How about the custodian meeting with major donors?  No, because those are the custodian’s and development officer’s responsibilities, respectively.  Or, for those outside of the corporate scope, let’s look at your home: Would you hire an electrician to fix your plumbing? So why have someone who is not qualified to edit be in charge of proof reading?

Let people do their jobs effectively and maximize their efficency then allow them to do their jobs (as assigned) efficently and effectively.  If you hinder them from doing so, don’t complain when they aren’t meeting their goals.


Make professional development a priority.

Sometimes It Won’t Make Sense

… and that’s ok.

I realize that, with every single job that I have, there are things that are done that make no sense.  There are processes that are archaic that companies/organizations don’t want to change because people gravitate to what they know and that is what it is.  But I do them because I’m getting paid.  And you should too if you want to keep your job (as long as it doesn’t go against your morals of course).

But, knowing that, when you get to a place of leadership, don’t be afraid to shake things up.  Ask employees how processes  can be improved and, if their suggestions make sense, implement them.  Do some digging and find things that aren’t functioning properly and modify/eliminate processes (not people if it can be helped) to make things run more smoothly.  We have all been in situations where we ask, “Why am I doing this?”  As much as you can, don’t make anyone else ask the same thing.


Make professional development a priority.

Apps: The New Corporate Cost-Cutting Tool

Yesterday I was reading the LinkedIn article “Jujitsu 2013: How Apps Turn Customers Into Workers” by Dennis K. Berman. It pointed me to Anton Troianovski’s article in The Journal about the impact apps are having on branding and the overall structure of businesses these days. Great read.

TRUMBULL, Conn.—The biggest mall in town stopped staffing its customer-service desk in January. But perched on that same desk recently was a plastic cutout of a hand holding a smartphone. “Download the free app,” it said.
Apps may be creating new jobs for developers and marketers. But around the edges of the rest of the economy, they’re also starting to become a substitute for people who earn a paycheck.
Businesses often say their main goal in developing smartphone applications is to make things easier for customers and to build brand loyalty. Yet they’re finding it doesn’t take much effort to turn the smartphones carried by most Americans into payment terminals or data-entry forms.
As a result, Americans increasingly are becoming their own bank tellers, loan officers, insurance adjusters, checkout clerks, restaurant order takers, citrus-crop inspectors and mall concierges. In the case of mall owner Westfield Group, apps are giving the company a way to give directions and answer questions without paying for concierge staff, which it had begun trimming anyway.
Other companies are explicitly pushing mobile technology in hopes of paring back or redeploying workers. Domino’s Pizza Inc. Chief Executive Patrick Doyle, speaking to analysts in a conference call last week, said such savings are showing up now that mobile and online orders combined have reached a “critical mass” of more than a third of total sales.
“We are certainly in the range where you start to see some labor efficiencies,” Mr. Doyle said. Mobile orders have been growing fastest, driven by apps the company has developed for Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Google Inc.’s Android software.
Domino’s won’t say how much its apps cost to build. But a company official said in a meeting with investors in January that the company charged franchisees 17 cents for each order placed digitally, according to a transcript of the event.
Personal computing and the Internet have been pecking away at the labor landscape for decades, undermining demand for everyone from travel agents to call-center workers while creating jobs in other fields. The mobile-device boom, which is putting a camera, touch screen, and a high-speed Internet connection in more and more pockets and purses, is giving businesses a new way to shift work from employees to customers.
Retail chains including Stop & Shop, owned by Ahold NV of the Netherlands, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., are both enabling self-checkout apps in some U.S. stores that let customers use their cameras to scan items as they put them in their shopping carts. Both retailers said they were seeking to give customers an alternative way to shop. A Wal-Mart spokeswoman, Ashley Hardie, said there could be opportunities to redistribute jobs in its stores as more shoppers use the app.
“It has the potential to make more associates available to assist customers with questions or restock shelves,” Ms. Hardie said.
Catalina Marketing, a retail-focused digital media company based in St. Petersburg, Fla., provided some of the technology behind the self-checkout apps at both chains. The company’s sales brochure promises its app technology “lowers your front-end labor costs by 10%-15%.”
“If a retailer is all about passing operating costs on to the consumer, you’ll probably see, yes, a reduction in labor,” said Todd Morris, Catalina’s head of mobile. “If a retailer’s strategy is a better, more pleasant shopping experience, you might see an equal cost of labor but kiosks or roaming store associates.”
For some companies, mobile apps are filling a void as they cut positions. Australia’s Westfield, one of the world’s biggest mall owners, has been closing the customer-service desks at some of its 47 U.S. malls in recent years, including, recently, the one in Trumbull.
The company has been encouraging customers to download an app that provides mall maps, turn-by-turn directions and even a “concierge” feature that encourages users to ask things like, “Where is the bathroom?”
Tushar Patel, whose Miami company Simplikate Systems LLC developed the Westfield app, points out that these are functions traditionally done by a human concierge. His company builds similar apps, in which directions are a key selling point, for other facilities like casinos and airports.
“They can physically replace people,” Mr. Patel said of those apps. He said Simplikate charges clients around $100,000 to build apps with features like mapping, weather, the ability to remember parking spots, and detailed information about stores or venues.
Westfield spokeswoman Katy Dickey said the company has been closing the concierge desks because shoppers didn’t want or expect that sort of service. Even without staffed concierge desks, Westfield malls still have personnel available to answer shoppers’ questions, she said.
The smartphone camera is what allows auto-insurance companies to create apps that let policyholders report their own claims. When photos of car damage are sent in by a mobile app, Allstate Corp.’s Esurance can sometimes avoid sending a claims adjuster into the field altogether, said Lisa Ward, Esurance’s vice president of customer experience.
Banks large and small use the camera to offer remote-check deposit via mobile banking apps. Some financial institutions are now going even further.
First Financial Credit Union, in Chicago, recently added a feature to its app that lets customers sign loan documents via a phone or tablet’s touch screen, eliminating the need to go into a branch to close a loan. Chief Executive Patrick Bassler said the credit union wrote 287 loans in November, the month the feature was introduced. That was more than double the monthly average, and the bank didn’t have to add a single temporary or permanent employee.
Mr. Bassler says he doesn’t plan to lay anyone off, but that the app’s features will help him grow without adding staff. One of his challenges, he says, is to convince employees that their jobs are safe.
“Our intent is not to use technology to eliminate employees, but it’s hard for everybody to see that,” Mr. Bassler says.
The government is also getting into the act. The Department of Agriculture spent $40,000 developing an app called “Save Our Citrus” that allows people to photograph and report diseased lemons and oranges. The department hopes the app will do the work of “two or three hundred inspectors in the state of Florida and dozens in Texas and dozens in Arizona and a couple hundred in California” that it can’t afford to hire, said Lawrence Hawkins, the USDA public affairs officer who heads the citrus initiative.
But there are risks. Even smartphones-savvy consumers sometimes prefer human interaction. At the Trumbull mall in Westfield several employees of stores near the decommissioned concierge desk said shoppers were asking them for directions instead.
Shopper Kim Farmer, marching through the mall with three young daughters and three Build-a-Bear Workshop boxes in tow, stopped by the unattended desk on a recent Saturday looking for information about gift cards and a sporting-goods store. She voiced a tinge of frustration as she walked away.
“I have my hands full,” Ms. Farmer said. “I’m not going to waste my time putting an app on my phone.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal