Back in 1967, the concept of doing more with less was not something on the radar of this 10-year-old boy. But there it stood — towering 21 stories above the ground, the bright sun exploding off its brilliant white façade. It was the most striking testament to efficiency on the grandest scale. As I stared in wonder at this behemoth geodesic dome that was the centerpiece of the Montreal World’s Fair, it seemed like my most vivid science fiction fantasies had come to life.
The sheer size of the outer shell was enough to take my breath away. But once inside the giant golf ball-shaped sphere, the sheer volume of space seemed to go on forever. Poised at the entrance and staring into the vastness was like standing on the banks of Lake Michigan in Chicago straining to see Detroit beyond the horizon.
It wouldn’t be until I arrived at college my freshman year did I connect the dots of my World’s Fair experience with Buckminster Fuller’s “do more with less” mantra. A scientist, architect and humanist of the highest order, Fuller’s ideas about technology and human survival were well ahead of his time; and still are. His term “dymaxion” was derived from his holy trinity of action words. By combining dynamic, meaning a force; maximum, meaning the most; and ion, which is an atom or group of atoms with an electrical charge, Fuller conveyed the foundation of what would define him for more than seven decades.
Fuller explained the word dymaxion as a method of doing more with less. Everything he did was guided by this idea. He designed a dymaxion car, a dymaxion house and a dymaxion map of the world. His most famous design — the geodesic dome — is a round building made of many straight-sided pieces.
The design epitomizes his “doing more with less” principle, in that it encloses the largest volume of interior space with the least amount of surface area — thus saving on materials and cost.
Many architects and engineers now agree that a domed structure is one of the most efficient interior atmospheres for human dwellings. Air and energy that are allowed to circulate without obstruction are able to heat and cool the environment naturally.
Fuller would even take this concept to the nth degree — suggesting massive geodesic domes could envelop future cities to help minimize man’s impact on Earth. Of course, everyone who was in college back in the 1970s remembers the term “Spaceship Earth” or probably read author Alvin Toffler. It was Fuller who coined the phrase.
As he observed the evolution of technology in the 1920s, Fuller proposed perhaps his most visionary concept of the “do more with less” credo with a principle known as “progressive ephemeralization.” Simply put, the trend of “progressive ephemeralization” is doing more and more with less and less. In today’s world, we see this in action as computers and networks become more robust and the footprint for these technologies become more miniaturized. The payback and functionality of the systems is increasing exponentially.
So as your boss continues to cut staff and resources devoted to the security budget, take Fuller’s lead and realize it is possible to do more with less. Learn to adapt. Spread the cost of security with other groups. Get more out of your existing security tools, systems and staff. Tie a security purchase to your compliance mandates. And finally, outsource or automate some security functions where it makes sense.
Or as my old high school baseball coach used to say: “work smarter, not harder!”
If you have any questions or comments for Steve Lasky regarding this or any other security industry-related issue, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.