Jared Wade


August 1, 2010

book-ZilchThroughout the recession, companies have been asked to do more with less. Staffs have been cut, travel has been limited and marketing fat has been trimmed. And the refrain from many employees is that their bosses have been asking the impossible. You cannot do more with less. You can only do less with less.

In her new book Zilch, Nancy Lublin disagrees. "Stop whining about your budget cuts and start asking yourself what you'd do if you had zilch," she writes. "You'll be surprised just how powerful that is."

Lublin comes from the nonprofit world and is accustomed to using strategies like favoring free social media tools, partnering with groups that do your promotion for you and hosting events that generate news coverage instead of paying for marketing. "After years and years of being told that we in the not-for-profit sector need to be more structured, more profitable, more strategic and more like organizations in the corporate world, the pendulum is swinging in the other direction."

She offers ways that organizations can increase the value of their brands (through hard, focused work-not marketing), get more out of their staffs (enough to even convince them to stay past five o'clock without huge financial incentives) and get their boards of directors to actually bring value instead of just showing up for a few meetings throughout the year.

To get more out of your brand, employees and directors, Lublin suggests creating an organizational mission and culture where everyone feels "like they're part of something big." It is amazing how much this can do for motivation. If the only outcome of working harder-or for customers, buying a product or service-is a ballooning bottom line, it is difficult for people to really put in their all. But if there is something more important than profits at stake, it makes everyone more engaged and more devoted to success.

Sure, "more with less" will never be easy, but if you try a few of Lublin's ideas in Zilch, it may be a little easier.

Jared Wade is a freelance writer and a former editor of Risk Management.