In my left hand, I hold a quarter. In my right hand, I hold a dollar bill.
Ahead of me stands a gumball machine with the freshest, tastiest gumballs on the planet. By doing more with less, I can use the quarter and get one of those gumballs and be transported to a sugar high the likes of which I’ve never seen. The dollar, the “more” part of the equation, won’t fit into the coin slot.
Sometimes, having more doesn’t always ensure that you’ll get what you want. That’s what Core Value #8 is all about.
Core Value #8: Do More With Less
Zappos has always prided itself on doing more with less. Whether it’s overtaking the former Las Vegas City Hall building and transforming it into a LEED-certified office, providing employees on-campus perks, or hiring someone who has the soft skills to work seamlessly across teams and departments.
Our motto is to never settle for “good enough,” because good is the enemy of great; and our goal is to not only become a great company but to become the most significant service company in the world.
In many ways, Do More with Less is our way of saying “frugal innovation”. The term was first coined in 2006, and it refers to the ability to generate more business while reducing the use of scarce resources. This mindset also helps companies perceive constraints on resources as a growth opportunity as opposed to a debilitating challenge.
Take a look at these two thought leaders who are embracing Zappos’ core value #8 and frugal innovation:
Unilever CEO Paul Polman is a no-nonsense kind of guy who has boldly stated that by the year 2030 we’d need two planets to supply Earth’s resources and absorb waste. In 2010 he created “The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan,” which is a bold blueprint to double the company’s revenue while cutting the environmental impact of the company in half by 2020.
To implement his do more with less strategy, Unilever’s supply chain is making their factories and warehouses less wasteful and more energy efficient. Currently, they obtain nearly 25 percent of agricultural raw materials from sustainable sources, and they use lower-emission trucks to deliver products. The research and development teams are even reformulating products like detergents and soaps to use less water and packaging, thereby creating less pollution.
Navi Radjou is a famed scholar who essentially launched the idea of frugal innovation. According to him, “Frugal innovation is more than a strategy. It denotes a new frame of mind: one that sees resource constraints not as a liability but as an opportunity — and one that favors agility over efficiency. Frugal organizations don’t seek to wow customers with technically sophisticated products, but instead, strive to create good-quality solutions that deliver the greatest value to customers at the lowest cost.”
Radjou wants to teach other leaders and, frankly, the whole world, that embracing new sustainable methods of design will enable the continual use of materials and cut down on unnecessary waste.
So, how do you do more with less? It can be something as simple as cleaning the house with fewer paper towels or donating your slightly used clothes or shoes to others in need.
Share with us in the comments below how frugal innovation is a part of your life!