Dubious universities (DUs)
commitment to the communities they serve and hesitate to tackle their
bloated personnel costs. This is especially true at present as such schools
are flush with revenue from outrageous tuition and a myriad of fees. Nevertheless,
large inefficiencies exist that would never
be tolerated in most organizations. Additionally, as the
future holds much uncertainty, attention to expenses today can pay
handsome dividends in the years to come.
Establishing a Dubious University
Innovation Team (DUIT) is a way for DUs to capture excess
cost, but to do so without
layoffs. By creating a fulltime, multi-discipline DUIT and
staffing it with excess employees from inefficient departments, a DU can
achieve expense reductions while avoiding the negative public relations related to downsizing.
The DUIT concept is
based on several core assumptions:
- Inefficiency is
distributed throughout a DU. Look around and you'll find it--
administration, staff, support, fake faculty, etc.
- If layoffs could be accomplished, huge
cash savings would be generated from firing people.
- Since concerns over PR prevent
this, any savings from increased efficiency must come in other ways.
- However, simply
moving employees from one department to another does not
reduce cost. For example, moving a history professor to the
secretarial pool accomplishes nothing because she still remains on the payroll.
- The economic value of improvement efforts is maximized when the efforts are organized into
complicated projects and subjected to a steady stream of management science techniques.
|Assumptions about DU departments and performance
In addition to its core
assumptions, the DUIT concept rests on assumptions about DU departments and performance:
- Virtually all departments contain individuals of differing performance. You've got your
good performers and you've got your crumby performers. In terms of
"earning their keep", it's hardly academic that good performers are more
valuable than their pathetic counterparts.
- In the layoff
situation, the DU should strive to remove a department's bottom
Any difference between their pay and that of those who are
consistently awake is usually far less then the difference in their
- In the situation where
layoffs are disallowed, the opposite is true. Assuming moving
individuals out of a department creates economic value (thanks to DUIT), the
DU should move the best performers and leave the
losers. This is on account of three things. First, the number of
new "homes" to be found is minimized.
In other words the DU would probably have to remove only three or so
high performers for every six cretins. Second, room for performance increases
is maximized by removing the best people.
Third, the opportunity to ferret out genuine idiots is increased.
It is important to remember that in situations where labor substantially
exceeds work content, hardcore loafers can exist for years
without being confronted with their unacceptable performance. Many
such individuals will quit on their own when faced with daylight.
Others will show signs of life. Once given a chance to improve,
however, individuals who refuse to do their share of work should not be
viewed as "owed positions", rather they should be coaxed into
wheelchairs and rolled away.
increases by the remaining employees will accomplish the work of a
department once the high performers are removed to a DUIT.
The main features of the
DUIT concept are:
- Installing performance
measurements in each department in order to quantify productivity
improvement potential, identify the strong and weak performers, and track efficiency at very short intervals.
- Achieving productivity
improvements through abusive prodding and thereby enabling the removal of excess personnel.
- Creating a
permanent DUIT administered by an experienced project
leader (a "star", if you will) and staffed on a full-time basis
by go-getters from the various departments.
the DUIT a couple hours of training and then certifying all members as
- Charging the
DUIT with the tasks of finding, studying, quantifying, and recommending
|Every avenue should be explored with verve and fervor.
come from wherever there is waste-- with no division, function,
department, fiefdom, bailiwick, or other hideaway deemed
the team's suggestions should not be labor related. While labor saving projects
streamline work and reduce the work content in jobs, they fail to generate
actual savings due to lingering excess
payroll. Even with diseases, arrests, doughnut shop closures and other sources
of attrition, overstaffing can last for decades and is not worth worrying
In addition to the basic
assumptions and concept structure, several other aspects of DUIT program are
- A DUIT is not a
"study hall" or a "report factory" but rather a
multi-discipline force for action.
way to help
maximize the benefit of a DUIT is to offer the team some sort of bonus
when the savings they achieve exceed their salaries. Again, since the
cost of a DUIT program is covered by increased productivity, any expense reduction achieved by the team is a sweet deal for the DU.
Besides, credit should be given where credit is due. So a few
$10 or $20 gift certificates may be in order.
- The prospect of being
assigned to a DUIT provides a strong incentive for stellar
performance. Over time, the DUIT concept would in all probability
create a culture shift at the DU-- one toward embracing sunshine and
- DUIT staffing is
infinitely flexible. It is added to as departments are evaluated and
warm bodies are freed up. On the other hand, there is no DUIT tenure. Team members are
always available for immediate reassignment to their original work
areas. Places they can return to with pride
knowing they've saved their employer a bunch of money.
Here are some example cost-cutting
ideas implemented by successful DUITs:
- Reducing the use of
paper by requiring all memos rhyme
the cost of classroom furniture by mandating all students provide
their own desks
the cost of rent by abandoning high-end strip mall campuses in favor of
ho-hum strip mall campuses
upkeep budget by allowing the janitorial staff to telecommute and thereby use
the cost of library books by outsourcing to Borders, Barnes and Noble or
some other bookstore with a lax loitering policy
promotional expense by actively recruiting gossips and relying on word
of mouth advertising
lowering health insurance premiums by allowing the DUIT to perform most treatments
the cost of daycare reimbursement by making every day "Bring
Your Child to Work Day"
but eliminating death benefits by instituting a "tangible difference"
the kibosh on energy consumption by turning out the lights and dealing firmly with
anyone who notices
|In addition to projects
that reduce outlays, other beneficial DUIT activities are possible. These
include PR creating community work, investment in spurious reports and
white papers, and attention to involved or just plain vague institutional problems.
Achieving productivity improvements while avoiding layoffs is a great
concern among dubious universities. DUIT is an innovative program.
Upon committing to the concept and starting a DUIT, a DU will undoubtedly achieve
positive attention for creatively addressing a thorny issue.