Why is it so hard to stop?

The effectiveness of an organisation will improve dramatically if every significant new initiative would be accompanied by freeing up the required time and resources. First stop then start.


Decision paradox …

We continuously make decisions, what to wear, eat, say, etc. We do it all the time. For most of us making decisions is easy. Why then do so many people, especially managers, pride themselves for being decisive? And why, at the same time, do I hear so many complaints in organisations about management not making any real decisions? How can this be?


Adding to the pile

Let’s be clear, managers make a lot of business decisions. Saying they don’t is not really fair. Most of their decisions are of the binary type (yes or no). To (dis)approve a certain request, action, project, investment, etc. Getting that kind of decision right is of course very important and not always easy. Saying yes usually results in new activities being added to the existing workload. This is why so many people in large organisation complain about indecisiveness. Nothing is ever taken away or stopped.


Most management decisions either preserve the current workload (when deciding not to do something) or add to it (when deciding to start something new). All the adding of tasks reduces focus and increases the cost of control (head offices tend to always grow).


Make a choice!

I would therefore suggest to managers to focus on making choices instead of decisions. Making a choice is about saying yes to one thing, while at the same time sacrificing something else. If you absolutely want Project A to succeed, then stop process B to enable your team to deliver. It will make acceptance and execution a lot easier. Your team will be praising your decisiveness going forward!


At Business Acceleration we use a Stop/Start/Continue exercise in workshops to force our clients (and ourselves!) to match every significant ‘start’ with an equal ‘stop’. It isn’t easy, but team buy-in is much higher and so is the rate of success for new activities started.

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