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The power of strategic abandonment

A dark warehouse with a chair being illuminated from above

There is no greater tragedy than doing well that should not be done at

Yet, we fall into habits that are unfruitful at best, or dangerous at worst – in business and in life.

Taking stock on a quarterly basis enables us to evaluate and eliminate, in order to make room for what must be done to accomplish our objectives.

This allows for a constant refocusing of our time, energies and resources in what we call 13-Week Sprints.

Strategic Abandonment is best achieved by considering three key dimensions: Purpose, People and Performance.

A good starting point is to ask these nine questions about your organisation:


  1. If we were not doing what we are doing right now, what should or would we be doing?
  2. Is what we are doing maximising our comparative competencies to create value in the current environment?
  3. What is the opportunity cost of our current pursuits? In other words, what pursuits should we abandon for more productive or profitable ones?


  1. If we started again today, who would we not have on the team? How could we appropriately exit them?
  2. Who on the team is taking up a spot that is best served by someone else?
  3. Is there anyone that is negatively affecting our culture or not live our values?


  1. What are parts of our operations have become blithe, lazy, and inefficient?
  2. What are the disruptions, noise and silly rules that need to be abandoned?
  3. What are the bottlenecks that are holding people back from performing?

We are all susceptible to atrophy.

But as Peter Drucker noted, “In turbulent times the enterprise has to be kept lean and muscular, capable of taking strain but capable also of moving fast and availing itself of opportunity.”

And these indeed are turbulent times.

In our experience typical constraints to accomplishing this include tradition (we’ve always done it this way); routine and inertia (avoiding conflict and change); and familiarity (being too close to the problem or the people).

In such instances there are few better approaches than to have an external consultant facilitate the process. It ensures thoroughness, avoids conflicts of interest, and eliminates bias.

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