Photo by Rocketraccoon
I was reading a post by Auren Hoffman on the Summation Blog yesterday. Here is a short excerpt:
The hardest thing to do at a company is to kill things. Companies are all about building things, not destroying them. When your company is growing, you add lots of things to build the company: employees, investors, products, features, meetings, benefits, processes, reports, code, and more. While it does not come natural for a company (or any organization) to toss things out, every so often you need to look at everything and focus on getting rid of things that are no longer needed, important, or helping the company grow.
So true. You need to kill things (and early) because business (and life) is about tradeoffs. You cannot do everything. You cannot serve everybody. You cannot make everybody happy. You can try, but it is a futile attempt. Trying to focus on a few important products that serve specific customers makes much more sense and is much easier to accomplish. Not killing things leads to mediocrity which is the most poisonous concept for every business. It is a great idea to try a lot of new things, but the trick is to choose those that align with you core values, message, strategy or goal (choose one of the above).
What was a great idea yesterday is not always still a good idea. We know that but we still stand there and look at it and have fuzzy nostalgic feelings about it. I have seen it happen many times. In my work in the Israeli Air-force courses for commanders I helped introduce many new ideas and processes along the years. We would come up with a new way to do an exercise or a new activity that gave the participants an understanding of their role as managers and leaders. And then we went and made that part of the regular process of the course. However, after a few courses, suddenly, this novelty, which worked so well in the beginning, stopped working.
It stopped working for many reasons. It was not new anymore. People got used to it. People learned to tweak the system. Or the times just changed and it was irrelevant. And when somebody offered to change it there was this immediate opposition. Because it used to work. But when you ask people for the reasons and the rational for doing it in that particular way their answer is not the original goal of the idea. Their answer is: because that is how it always used to be. Just like the five monkeys.
A few days ago Rosabeth Moss Kanter wrote a post on the HBR blog about why winning streaks end:
“Winners become sinners when confidence turns into complacency and arrogance”
Not killing things is the manifestation of complacency and arrogance. Don’t let it get the better of you…