“We’re doing more with less.” It’s the sad refrain we hear every day from just about every sector of every industry. The economy may be recovering (maybe). But we’re all managing with fewer resources these days. We’re all struggling to do the same job with fewer people for less money.

“Do more with less,” we hear. And we all just nod our heads sadly, agreeing that it’s just what we have to do.

Only–we can’t do it. And we shouldn’t.

Less is less. You can try to do more work with fewer resources, but you will always get less. Spread your meager resources too thin, and nothing–no job, no project, no plan, no department–gets the attention it deserves.

Instead of laboring in vain to do more with less, you’re better off doing fewer things well. Consolidate your energy on your core business and core strengths. Instead of half-assing thirty things, be the best at three. Then you have a solid base from which to grow.

And we totally understand the idea that a sluggish economy, if nothing else, forces you to work smarter. Today more than ever, it pays to eliminate waste, boost efficiency, and optimize processes.

Instead, “do more with less” is too often code for “we’re going to keep doing things the same screwed-up way we always did, but we’re going to pay less for it.” “Do more with less” is an excuse for companies afraid or incapable of change.

Meanwhile, less is still less.

It’s time to stop buying the myth that you can do more with less. It’s a great business cliche. But it’s a terrible way to run a business.