I have joked about this expression for 20 years. “It’s the least I can do. No really, if I could do less, I would.” That’s the joke, written out. I usually reference it when I am talking about people who want to defend the status quo, who want and expect to succeed by doing what they have always done, who don’t want to hear that their job as they know it might be over.
They don’t want to do more, they want to do less.
There are a lot of different ways to say the same thing as “How little can I do and keep my job?” Popular variations can be:
“Can we provide less service and have our customers do it for themselves?”
“Can we put less products/services in, and charge just as much?”
“Can we engineer this thing to break down?”
Essentially, all of these questions ask the same question: “How much can I get away with?”
There is another way, a more effective and fun way to ask these questions:
“How much can we afford to give away?
“How much more service can we provide to push this over the top?”
“How much can we give away and still remain profitable?”
“How can we make this transaction memorable?”
Everyone is picking a side. We are fleeing the mushy middle where average ruled the day, and we are staking our ground and making our point.
Good news: Over here on the over-delivery side of things, there is still plenty of room.