Optimization (Opt Out of It)
- On April 22, 2015
“As CFO she helped improve resource optimization across different businesses through better capital and funding allocation, as well as expense reductions.” That line appeared in the press release Google issued last month announcing it had hired Morgan Stanley’s chief financial officer, Ruth Porat.
The words improve and optimization are a clumsy couple. Optimization is about making something as perfect or fully functional as possible. So, technically speaking, Google was saying Ms. Porat helped improve the perfecting of resources.
What is that supposed to mean? And is it even possible?
I suspect she curbed spending and made more efficient use of the money the bank did spend.
I emailed my brother, the finance guy, and asked what he thought.
“I think they meant she did a good job allocating Morgan Stanley’s capital across business lines to improve the firm’s overall profitability,” he wrote. “And she cut costs, which probably means she mandated layoffs.”
The press release, we agreed, would have been much clearer had it said, “As CFO she helped improve profitability by efficiently allocating capital across business lines and controlling expenses.” That seems upbeat, results-oriented, and leaves resource optimization (and the improbable improvement thereof) out of the picture.