Business Continuity

The One Investment CxOs Don't Cut During Inflation

Threats of inflation and recession have companies preparing for budget restrictions. The one thing you can’t cut, that is instinctive to cut, are the outsiders who are key for your insiders. How do you know who they are?

Scott Smeester


August 4, 2022

High above an Austrian village lived a forest dweller, an old man hired by the young town council to clear away debris from the pools of water that fed the springs that flowed through their town. He was a quiet man, devoted to this task; theirs was a beautiful village, the lovely springs an attraction for people from all over.

Swans graced the springs; farmlands soaked in the natural irrigation; diners enjoyed impeccable views of crystal clear water. This kept up for years.

Then one evening the council met to review the budget and to find areas to cut. One member looked at the amount being paid to the keeper of the spring and protested vigorously. By unanimous decision, the old man was terminated. 

Nothing changed for weeks. But then Autumn came. Leaves fell. Small branches broke off. The flow of water was hindered. Yellow-brown tint became noticeable in the springs. The color deepened, an odor developed, and film coated the water. Swans and tourists turned their backs on the springs.

An emergency session of the council was held. The old man was restored to his position. And in just a few weeks, the springs began to clear (a favorite story of the late Peter Marshall).

Inflation means budget cuts. Cuts mean a closer look at outsiders: vendors, consultants and contractors. It’s understandable. It’s also dangerous.

Don’t Cut Services Who Provide The Following

  • Assist with revenue acquisition
  • Provide savings
  • Exhibit durable value
  • Promote employee development and serves your retention
  • Enhance soft skills that translate to long-play relationship and revenue

I’m biased of course. I serve stakeholders by resourcing technology leaders through advisory groups, coaching, content development and coursework. We save companies massive amounts of time and financial investments. Those who have us don’t want to lose us. 

But we aren’t the only services of value out there. Reductions are coming, and I want you to measure twice before you cut.

Services that develop your people are essential for inflationary times. If anything, you want to spend to get the best people-developers out there, not cut to get by without. The rationale is simple:

  • You have the resources you need in the teams you have if they are developed to their full potential. 
  • It costs less to soft-skill and up-skill than it does to recruit and onboard (when new talent is seeking as much as they can to alleviate their own inflation pressures).
  • Development in areas such as client relationship, sales and persuasion, strategic rethinking, emotional intelligence, and team chemistry and efficiency all have bottom-line outcomes as measured by external and internal customer satisfaction. 
  • People will take less and demand less if they are invested in. A person will bank on their own potential.
  • When everyone is re-evaluating spend, including your clients and customers, relationships win. Teach your people how to build relationships externally and internally, and you gain leverage to continue long-term, mutual profitability. 

In the end, what are the springs you need to keep clean and clear? 

Easy - your people. Compromise on people, and murky waters are near.

Don’t question the value of the keepers of your springs. Keep them around and you will be better all around.


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