Organized Abandonment

“Every organization has to prepare for the abandonment of everything it does”
—Peter Drucker

Austrian-born Peter Drucker became the guru of modern American management. He was a consultant, author of 39 books, and educator who advocated a common-sense theory of management. He’s one of my favorite authors about business and the above is one of my favorite quotes because it’s so thought-provoking and, at least on the surface, radical.

Peter Drucker

“Radical” is only on the surface. In every professional endeavor, you have to be ready to do new things, but you also must be thinking of things that you will stop doing. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day and sleep is a requirement.

Every business in every industry, must continue to change and virtually recreate itself. Every leader must constantly ask, as Drucker did, “What can we stop doing?” Because we all have limited resources and in order to “boldly go” forward, we need to recognize what might be holding us back and what practices either are or shortly will become, outdated.

I like to put it this way: Start, stop, continue.

  • What new thing should we try?
  • What is something we’re currently doing where we can cut back or eliminate?
  • What practices should we continue because they’re working now and we believe that they can keep working in the future.

Here’s an example. I recently rented a car. In the shuttle bus on the way to the cars, I received an email from the rental agency telling me which parking spot I would find my car. Going out of the lot, the attendant scanned the bar code on the windshield, verified my ID/drivers license, and the scanner spit out a brief rental agreement. It saved time, paper, and somewhere it saved them money.
They’re still renting cars but almost everything about the procedure has changed.

It means that you need to look at everything in the organization as temporary. Permanence is dead.

What’s something that you could stop doing?

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2 thoughts on “Organized Abandonment

  1. It’s true that an organization can’t do everything, nor can it (or should it attempt to) be all things to all people. One of the best ways to define “what you can’t do” is to identify and focus on the strategic and mission-critical aspects of the organization in terms of what you need to be doing and what you should be doing. In other words, prioritize the opportunities. If it doesn’t fit into the what you NEED to be doing and what you SHOULD be doing, it should fall into “what you CAN’T be doing…”

    • Steve: Great thought. It reminds of that old saying about “if you eliminate everything else, what’s left must be the truth.”