—————pruning financial times

“If a brand genuinely wants to make a social contribution, it should start with who they are, not what they do.

For only when a brand has defined itself and its core values can it identify causes or social responsibility initiatives that are in alignment with its authentic brand story.”

=

Simon Mainwaring

———————-

“Less will be much more.”

=

A.G. Lafley

<P&G>

less is_more by lukeafirth-d6ccowa

—————-

 

 

 

So.

 

 

Business pruning.

 

 

Suffice it to say that one of the most difficult things for a business to do is to actually cut shit. In other words … letting things they have actually invested in … and may actually be earning some revenue … go.

Prune them in other words.

 

 

I thought about this because fairly recently, Procter & Gamble <the world’s largest household products maker> said it could sell about half of its brands in the next two years.

 

And in doing so will cut jobs <not to make itself leaner but because they have sold the business which needs that staff>.

 

And in doing so will focus their sales growth opportunities & efforts.

 

 

 

What they plan on doing <part 1>:

 

—-

P&G said the 70 to 80 “core” brands it will focus on accounted for 90% of sales and more than 95% of profit over the past three years.

Twenty-three of the brands have sales of between $1 billion and $10 billion.

“Less will be much more,” Chief Executive A.G. Lafley said.

—-

 

 

They have not announced which brands it will sell, keep or discontinue, but suggested the company’s family, feminine and baby care business would lose fewer brands than its other four businesses.

 

 

 

<The business, which houses brands such as Pampers diapers and Always sanitary napkins, is P&G’s fastest-growing and was the company’s second-biggest revenue contributor>

 

 

 

What they plan on doing <part 2>:

 

They could actually cut up to 100 brands if they truly wanted to:

 

 

P&G’s top 80 brands had sales of about $84.1 billion in 2013 while the other roughly 100 brands had sales of just $2.4 billion, according to Sanford Bernstein analyst Ali Dibadj.

 

 

Uhm.

 

 

Yes.

 

indulge pointless hsit

That says “100 brands.”

 

 

Uhm.

 

 

Yes.

 

 

That actually means at least 100 products <because some brands have multiple products under the brand name>.

 

 

Yes.

 

That is a shitload.

 

 

 

Let me be clear.

 

 

I love this.

 

And I believe more businesses should do this.

 

 

 

And I will also say this is not easy … easy to decide to do and easy to actually do.

 

I am not going to be egotistical enough to suggest I have a formula for how to decide … but I am going to tell you why it is a good thing.

 

 

And I am going to do it not by discussing any business experience I have … but instead experience in gardening.

 

 

Pruning as a matter of fact.

 

 

Well-pruned businesses produce more flowers and fruit.

 

 

Oops.

 

I meant to type … ‘well-pruned plants produce more flowers and fruit.’

 

All businesses require maintenance and pruning is one of the most important, and often most overlooked or forgotten, maintenance tasks. Let’s maybe call this “remove to improve.” But suffice it to say … removing some stuff <and the stuff may be growing and healthy … just using energy that could be used elsewhere> can produce more elsewhere.

 

 

 

Pruning is the removal of plant parts to induce the plant to grow in a particular manner.

Using correct pruning techniques can help maintain the health, vigor, and attractiveness of trees.

 

 

When pruning is done correctly … many businesses need only an occasional light pruning rather than major annual pruning.

Let’s call this type of pruning as ‘shaping.’

 

 

In other words … continuously shaping the basic skeleton of a business may avoid drastic corrective pruning and other problems later.

 

 

In general businesses suck at pruning. Yeah … yeah … yeah … you see ‘layoffs’ and ‘cutbacks’ but that is not strategic business pruning … that is mainly balance sheet maintenance.

 

prune structural cutbacks

 

Shaping the skeleton of your business is actually aversion of business portfolio management. And this is really REALLY hard.

It is hard because most businesses are not malleable enough organizationally to slide resources seamlessly from one brand or product to another once they have been placed.

 

 

Managers hate to give up staff counts <assuming they will never get them back>.

 

Managers hate giving up budget funds <assuming they will never get them back>.

 

Managers hate effectively training their employees so that they can actually shift seamlessly to something new <assuming they will not get credit for training outside current scope>.

 

 

 

Pruning maintenance is difficult, frankly … that is why when you do see a business with enough backbone to prune it is typically fairly drastic pruning.

 

 

Ok.

 

 

Next.

 

 

When to prune?

 

 

Well.

 

 

There is no easy time … particularly if you neglect light occasional pruning. But let’s try out a theoretical time … let’s call it the winter of a business.

 

Winter?

 

 

Yup.

 

Almost every business has a slower time … a time when business is a little more dormant. The time that employees relax a little … plans are in place and shit is just … well … happening.

 

This may seem like the worst time from a morale standpoint to prune … but it also may be the best time from a business perspective … and long term morale standpoint.

Pruning tree business

 

Pruning in winter—during the dormant season—invigorates many trees and shrubs because it leaves the plants with extra root and energy reserves that will support new growth on the remaining branches.

Dormant-season pruning is good for you, too, because you can see the branches more clearly without leaves in the way.

 

 

 

It is the best time to reallocate resources and get prepared for the ‘fresh growth.’

 

Plus.

 

 

An overlooked aspect … but when you are really really busy there are a shitload of ‘leaves’ waving all around you … makes it tougher to see which branches are truly healthy and which ones are not.

 

 

Waving leaves?

 

No matter how good you are as a leader or executive … there will always be some mediocre employee who is an absolute frickin’ expert at waving leaves that look fresh & green … really hiding a less than healthy branch.

 

 

But … why prune?

Scientifically proven to improve the health of your business.

 

 

Scientists have shown that the main shoot dominates a plant’s growth principally because it was there first, rather than due to its position at the top of the plant.

 

 

“… all the shoot tips on a plant compete with each other, so that tips both above and below can influence each other’s growth.

This allows the strongest branches to grow the most vigorously, wherever they may be on the plant.

The main shoot dominates mostly because it was there first, rather than because of its position at the apex of the plant.”

=

Professor Leyser

 

 

 

Business is exactly the same.

 

Far too often you have some business line or business revenue that has simply been there forever. And that is its main value – forever.

 

The scariest part of pruning this ‘main shoot’? Many many times this ‘forever’ aspect of the business is the foundation of the company brand.

 

This is a double trouble aspect.

 

 

Emotional to the organization.

 

Seemingly important to the value of the brand itself.

 

 

Here is the deal.

 

 

Emotionally?

 

Breakups are sad … and they hurt. But holding on is worse. Break up. Emotionally prune the sonofabitch.

 

 

Value to brand?

 

Well.

 

Let me tell ya something … pretty much the number one issue any brand or company with any history faces is ‘staying relevant’ … or … the infamous ‘how can I attract younger customers <because my older ones are dying>?”

 

Pruning the old established foundation ‘branch’ makes people sit up, cock their heads a little and say ‘what’s up over there.’ Pruning in this case gives you an opportunity to tell people something.

 

 

By the way.

 

 

I bring this last thought up <‘tell people something‘> because far too often businesses in the process of pruning something old do so hoping not many people notice. They kind of hope it slips thru the attention cracks and everyone moves along none the aware.

 

 

Nope.

 

 

Wrong thing to do.

 

If you actually have the guts to prune something old than step up to the plate and tell people. Sure. Some people will be unhappy. Some will not care <although it’s kind of your job to make them care>. And there will be an entirely new group of people who didn’t give a shit about you before who you now have an opportunity to tell them why they should give a shit.prune stump

 

 

Regardless.

 

Suffice it to say if you do some maintenance pruning on the main shoot … something that may look like it is part of the trunk of the tree … you may be actually saving the entire tree <please note that drastic pruning can often leave just a stump>.

 

 

Lastly.

 

 

Maybe the most overlooked aspect of pruning.

 

And sensible pruning helps trees and shrubs ward off pests and diseases, so you’ll have to care for them less.

 

 

Uhm.

 

And sensible pruning helps businesses ward off pests and diseases, so you’ll have to care for them less.

 

 

Pests are bad employees.

 

Diseases are the ‘festering invested resources’ <and wasted energy trying to treat the disease>.

 

 

Ok.

Employees.

 

 

Let’ say that there are parts of your business that need pruning <but you don’t have the guts to prune them> … you typically do one of two things … you either throw one good employee after another at it trying to ‘reinvigorate’, or, you throw a bad employee at it who ends up sucking the rest of the organization dry trying to justify their existence.

 

Both are bad.

 

You want good employees working on things that reap the benefits of their energy <because they are not an inexhaustible resource> and you want to get rid of bad employees.

 

 

And disease?

 

Just like in a plant … a business will naturally shift resources to fight a disease within … either to stifle it or simply to contain it.

 

And let me be clear on the ‘disease’ aspect.

 

 

I have been in at least a dozen different business situations where someone has said “we don’t want to invest any resources in ‘x brand/product’ … we just want to maintain it” and in each situation I can guarantee two things <1> ‘maintain’ always takes effort, energy & money – and always more than you think, and <2> you always ‘invest.’

 

What have I learned?

 

Any time I hear “we don’t want to invest any resources in ‘x brand/product’ … we just want to maintain it” I know we should just prune it.
Anyway.

 

ignorance and indolence You-are-not-powerless

In the end.

 

 

I struggle to think of a business, outside of maybe a startup, that doesn’t need maintenance pruning.

 

Strategic business pruning <not staff changes>.

 

 

I seriously doubt enough business people are paying attention to what P&G is doing … and they should.

 

 

It could not have been an easy decision.

 

 

But I applaud them … because I think it is a GREAT decision.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Written by Bruce