DIARY: Bell begs cost-cutting ideas, misses obvious

It's good to see the IPG chairman and chief executive, David Bell, and his staff seem to be speaking each other's language.

In his latest memo, Bell takes great pains to thank all those who have responded: "It's clear this channel of communication is flowing in more than one direction."

He adds: "I wanted to invite you to have a greater voice in that potential future."

Ah, so he wants to give his staff a say. Very democratic. Although anyone who's ever worked for a large company will know what that means. Whenever a big cheese asks for input from his workers, there's only one matter up for debate - that's right, cost cutting.

"This is the area I want each of you to consider," Bell continues. "What are we doing out there, in terms of our operations, that we could be doing better? Is there some thoughtless way in which we're wasting resources? Money that would be so much better invested on our people and our product, as well as enhancing returns for our shareholders."

The cost-cutting drive will be called Project 44. There is even an e-mail staff can use to send their money-saving ideas, with a personal response from Bell as well.

Of course, there is one obvious way to trim some fat. Offering John Dooner a smaller total package than the $10 million he has now might do the trick.