Exploring Scale: The Advantages of Thinking Small
When it comes to thinking about scale, the assumption of corporate leaders since Henry Ford’s day has been that bigger is better. And in many situations, such thinking is inarguably correct because of the cost efficiencies that size provides. But sometimes efficiencies can mask opportunities.
In their research, the authors found that small-scale operations provide significant advantages in four areas. They allow companies to locate hot spots and tap into local knowledge networks; they make it possible to respond more rapidly to customer needs and to trends in regional demand; they enable companies to monitor potentially disruptive technologies; and they help hold down labor costs while developing managerial talent. Using case studies, the authors illustrate how companies in a wide variety of industries have found the hidden benefits of small-scale approaches to corporate needs. They conclude that executives who develop a deeper understanding of scale and learn when it is better to think small can have a potentially huge impact on their companies’ long-term success.