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Financial executives have tried many ways to increase free cash flow and reduce working capital. DRS Sustainment Systems Inc. (SSI) in St. Louis, Mo., did it with a lot of help. The defense and aerospace contractor essentially enlisted its workforce in the effort by promoting a “culture of cash.”

It was time for action. Between April 2007 and May 2008, SSI’s working capital grew 41%, more than twice as fast as the 19% increase in its revenue. Free cash flow had fallen to just 78% of operating revenue, 13% below expectations.

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