I was reading a great article where Jim Collins, the author of great books like Good to Great: Why some companies make the leap and others don’t was providing some insights on his tips for young leaders.
One of the tips that struck me was his insight around having a stop list and actively looking at the things you should stop doing in the business to be successful. This very much resonated with me and our journey in our consulting business over the last three years. From a personal perspective, our business had struggled to gain traction when we tried to be everything to everyone, doing lots of things and spreading ourselves thin. This had meant very unclear strategies, plans and a real case of being busy but not productive.
The contrast was when we achieved success particularly over the last three years. We had been focussed, saying no to things that did not meet our plan and really ensured that we focussed on what we are good at and known by our tribe of clients and advocates.
Since recognising the importance of not adding new things but saying no to things not adding value to the business has been enormous. Quarterly stop/start/continue sessions in the business, saying no to work that does not play to our strengths and really challenging the streamlining of business processes and policies that do not add value are just some of the initiatives that have brought this to life. I have heard of another business that has a rule that you can only add a new initiative when you identify two other things that the business needs to stop that are not adding value. A fantastic idea that also frees up time and gets people thinking about what is it that we are doing because we have always done it.
The disciplines to challenge us to ensure we are adding stuff for the sake of it has allowed our cups to be empty to take advantage of being creative, spending more time with clients and ensuring we hunt lions rather than chase mice.
Saying no is not a dirty word in business. It is a game changer and one that allows you to really focus on what truly drives success in a way that is sustainable both externally with clients and also internally with your staff. Don’t let the fear of trying to keep everyone happy or feel you have to win at everything drive a business that is chaotic, ineffective and stressful. Think about what adds true value and focus your valuable energy around these areas.