Innovation vs Cost Cutting in a Recession

Geoff Smith Portrait

BY Geoff Smith

POSTED ON NOVEMBER 8, 2011

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Coming out of this particular recession, guess who wins (in my humble view). The Innovator wins.

Not the Cost Cutter. Not the leader who just cuts prices in a tight market to get revenue. Not even the efficiency expert.

If you can innovate your way through this recession, when it finally ends, the cost cutters and margin cutters will have crippled themselves, and you will be off and running. They will never catch up. If you can innovate, you can cut costs and increase efficiencies – not just for yourself, but for absolutely everyone. Sell those ideas – even to your competitors - for big money and then keep on innovating.

You can – with the right innovations – control your own risk, your client’s risk, their lender’s risk, your supplier’s risk, even your competitor’s risk. They will be lining up at the door.

Innovators can create construction project opportunities where no-one even knew they existed. Maybe whole groups of projects, maybe entire new market sectors. (Bill Gates, obviously, is a market creator, not a cost cutter. I will bet he has never even looked at an overhead budget.)

You can use existing products in entirely new ways, and get way out in front. You don’t need big R&D budgets, just some really bright people, thinking really hard.

You can grease the skids into new markets. Instead of taking on the well established local competitors head to head, offer their clients something no-one has offered them. Or join up with those competitors and let them offer it….

Innovators attract other innovators and big thinkers to work with them. Cost cutters aren’t quite as popular.

Instead of demoralizing the smartest people in your company with cost cuts and going ‘back to basics’, you can challenge them, energize them, and maybe recreate the whole operation.

OK. That was easy to say, not so easy to do, and even the smartest builders and thinkers at EllisDon will take all the help we can get. Anybody out there got a great idea and need some help?