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Business Sustainability: "Doing More With Less"

Guest Contributor

This week I have invited my friend, Dr. Bruce Piasecki, to share his thoughts about his new book, Doing More With Less.  Bruce is the author of eight books on business strategy, valuation, and corporate change, including the Nature Society’s book of the year, In Search of Environmental Excellence: Moving Beyond Blame. He is also the president and founder of AHC Group Inc, a management consulting firm specializing in energy, materials, and environmental corporate matters.

     - Alcide


Two statements define the context of my latest book (to beBruce piasecki-200x300 released in three weeks), Doing More with Less: The New Way to Wealth,

  1. The earth will soon be home to seven billion people, all seeking to share the same water, air, food, and products; and,
  2. While this presents major challenges to business—and to society in general—it also offers unique opportunities to the firms that recognize and capitalize on them.

The businesses that survive this challenging new millennium will be the ones that find new and lasting ways to answer key social questions about poverty, mobility, and energy now. Central to this effort is what I have dubbed “the art of competitive frugality.”

The Art of Competitive Frugality

This is about returning to the core values of industriousness and frugality that the great statesman, inventor, and author, Benjamin Franklin wrote about so eloquently two centuries ago. Fast forwarding to the 21st century, we must resist the temptation to use technology for technology’s sake, and instead focus on the creative solutions that scarcity demands. Rediscovering the vital link between frugality and competition will usher in a golden age of higher efficiencies, more direct results, and smarter competition.

Based on my experience, interviews with visionary leaders, and such diverse subjects as the passage of health care reform and the development of mega-cities around the world, the art of competitive frugality offers potent insights into such critical issues as:Doingwithless-280x280

  • Why doing more with less will offer abundant recompense with less debt and risk—making companies more adept in the short run and more adaptive in the long run;
  • How scarcity itself can open up new markets for businesses that are creative enough to uncover them;
  • How to compete more effectively in terms of innovation while eliminating the kind of cutthroat business battles that thrive on cost-cutting or making enemies;
  • How to generate employee loyalty though a commitment to social responsibility;
  • How to deal with and eliminate the “knuckleheads” who stand in the way of success and a better future.

Fundamentally, my approach demands a return to basic principles—achieving greater balance by realigning frugality and prosperity.

For example, here are the three keys on which I run my own firm:

  1. Never forget the people and the rules in the act of making money.
  2. Return to the classic ideal of productive restraint – that is, to being agents for good in the world by doing more with less.
  3. Know that only you (not your boss, parents, or business school) can find your competitive advantage for creating wealth.

A “Call to Arms” for The New Millennium

I’ve worked extensively in the area of social responsibility, and believe that frugality as a business ethic offers a fresh take on the increasing role that sustainability and energy issues play in competitiveness.

Never before has the world faced such massive challenges in terms of resources, space, and rapid growth.

Businesses can either step up to these challenges and play a unique role in solving them, or be crushed along the way. Doing More With Less offers the insights and perspective leaders need to take the reins in this new environment, transform their thinking, and find a new road to success.


If you are interested in learning more about Doing More With Less, there are videos and a free chapter available for download at



I am fascinated to read the excerpts of the book “Doing more with Less”. It must be a brilliant piece of work by Mr. Piasecki. Having been born in India I cannot agree more that the frugality is a buzz word, a demand of the time and a tool and technique for survival in the world as natural resources are shrinking with our every breath.Since I have lived in the East and the West as such I have gone through the different phases of life and in the process I also experienced and practiced frugality in my life, I thought to contribute a few words towards the effort of Mr. Bruce Piasecki in conveying his message to the world through his book.In early 2000 when I was working in New York, I also used to export waste paper and plastics scraps to India after sourcing them from all over the USA. By looking at the products, I realized that due to our affluence in the West, we waste so many products that we could have easily recycled before throwing in order to increase our wealth and save the environment.Necessity is the mother of invention. I have seen how small scale industries in India attempted to produce electricity from bio-gas (waste) and lit up the entire street in the absence of regular electric supply and frequent power tripping.  This is an appropriate example of social and corporate frugality.There are several examples I know that in spite of living in total frugality how certain people became successful economically, politically and spiritually. Mahatma Gandhi is amongst one of the best examples known to the western world. Otherwise the list is endless such as Aurobindo Ghosh, Maharishi Ramanna, Saint Tukaram, Kabir Das, Tulsidas, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Ramkrishna Paramhans, Ramanuja, Sai Baba of Shirdi,  Adi Shankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda etc.In fact every philosopher, saint and seer born in India conveyed the same message to the mass. This message indicated how to perform more in less while remaining best in spite of the lack of opportunities.  Frugality has not isolated them or made them self centered but helped them more in understanding the importance of scarce resources around them and how to use them wisely.  In India, Hindus are in majority and they do not eat beef, not because of the religious dictum, but because of the need for milk for babies to grow. And in order to stop slaughtering of the diminishing number of cows, saints and seers gave it a religious touch. As a result, India has become the best example of the ‘White Revolution’ or ‘Operation Flood’ which took place in early seventies and made India one of the largest producer and self sufficient in the production of milk in spite of having such a large human population. This is another example of social frugality turning advantageous for the Indian corporate world in producing many bi-products of milk.The background of ‘the harmonious human multitude’- Mr. Benjamin Franklin in his childhood was also full with scarcity and poverty. When he was 12 years old, he used to compose and sell printed materials and then started his career as an apprentice printer, a runaway child, became a publisher and a scientist in pioneering lightening rod. In fact he built his career from down below with his intelligence, hard work and perseverance. He believed in frugality so much that it is worth mentioning his famous sayings- “a penny saved is a penny earned” and “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.Therefore,  it is the demand of time that companies should innovate in using the available resources and capitalizing on them before it is too late. Franklin’s life is an example that poverty, scarcity and frugality not only make a person wise, understanding and compassionate but also drives a person to be innovative and creative. It gives the ability to survive in all odds, and provides natural instincts for responses in adverse circumstances. It gives an insight to visualize all dimensions of a situation and prepares one’s mind and body to adjust and react accordingly, which in other words can be called the power of the ‘Sixth Sense’. Frugality may also develop the capacity of forbearance, universal brotherhood and a sense of sacrifice, as those who have less tend to give out more. In this context Mr. Piasecki has rightly mentioned about Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc and Mahatma Gandhi as they are the best examples of the outcome of the humanistic divine and intrinsic qualities of frugality. Please convey my congratulations to Mr. Piasecki for an excellent work.Suman Saran SinhaB.Sc, LLB, CMC

By SUMAN SARAN SINHA, CMC on 2012/02/12

Suman, I can see that Bruce’s message resonated with you as it did with me. A number of people have mentioned that the notion of “competitive frugality” is so correct for our time. However, as Dr. Piasecki and yourself have pointed out, it is correct for any time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

By Alcide on 2012/02/13

Returning to the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin,  Bruce Piasecki shows how frugality and social responsibility produce creativity and wealth in the broadest sense.  His voice is strong and his message is clear.

By Barbara Kass on 2012/03/10

Just love Bruce’s books, powerful messages for ‘interesting times’ much needed in this new era of super crisis… looking forward to featuring him, together with other business leaders in The Super HERO Code in October at the Manor House, Compton Bishop, Somerset, UK - see for details.Dr Susie Anthony - Award Winning Author

By DR SUSIE ANTHONY on 2012/03/20

This is an important book, and it’s been my pleasure to work with Bruce as we look to formalize its principles into a world-class training curriculum. Frugality and prosperity go hand in hand, and Bruce’s deep experience and expertise provides a roadmap to make this happen.

By Platte Clark on 2012/03/20

Bruce Piasecki’s book, “Doing More With Less,” delivers a clarion call to values-centered action as relevant to the general reader as it is for corporations.  Ben Franklin’s principle of frugal inventiveness is confidently explored by Piasecki to address the Gordian knot of emergent global economic, environmental and social challenges.

In this most recent book, Piasecki’s builds on his vision for social response capitalism as the pathway to profitable corporate sustainability as first presented in his book “World, Inc.”  Readers will gain a deeper understanding of the mutually reciprocal benefits of empowering teams by supporting a culture of disciplined frugality and innovation. 

Piasecki urges readers to fully grasp the indisputable irrationality of projecting continued growth through consumption driven (and wasteful) mainstream economic models.  His book offers a more optimistic future empowered by unleashing the self-organizing principle of frugal values that will be needed to profitably meet the needs of the world’s current population of seven billion people. 

Demetria Giannisis
Corporate Innovation and Sustainability Consultant

By Demetria Giannisis on 2012/06/11

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Posted by Guest Contributor
Posted on February 10, 2012

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