Over the weekend I was in my favourite menswear shop perusing the bargain rack in search of something I didn’t know I needed until I spotted the shop. Even then I wasn’t convinced, but regardless I made a purchase. And the bargain rack? Well, because who buys anything in this day and age that’s not on sale – well I don’t know anyone. So my wife and I had the usual discussion about going through the wardrobe and removing the no longer wanted items and sending them off to the charity shop down the road. It’s a painful but necessary job. Who knew being charitable could be such a burden.
Out with the old and in with the new
I think it’s time for my annual review
You know, I amaze myself by happily paying $100 for my wife and I to go and have a basic dining experience that lasts just 2 hours, but if I pay $60 for a shirt, I expect the shirt to last 5 years. When I finally do the wardrobe review, I can pull some pretty wild fashion out of the wardrobe and decide I simply can’t wear it in public anymore. But then, with a flash of genius, I rethink an item and decide perhaps I can wear this suit tails in the garden as a jacket. Great, so now I don’t have to get rid of it. That’ll save money for sure. Wonderful, I am absolved of all traces of guilt. Just hope the tails don’t get caught in the shredder mulcher.
“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old” (Peter Drucker)
Recently I have been burying myself enthusiastically in Peter Drucker’s writing and have been learning lots and reinforcing thoughts and ideas. Peter Drucker, considered to be the father of modern management, said that we should review what we do periodically and ensure that it remains relevant. Yes, that seems pretty simple and common sense, but I bet it’s something none of us do with real discipline. Drucker said that when for example, we review a procedure or a business or a market that we are in, we should ask ourselves this question as a litmus test.
If I wasn’t doing this today, would I start doing it tomorrow?
So, if we were not in a particular market, would we enter it? If we didn’t have this particular procedure in place, would we implement it now? If not, why not and what does that mean in relation to the procedure or market that we are in and we’re reviewing? The obvious question then becomes, should we be in it, or doing it now, or should we stop or plan to exit? Peter Drucker called it planned abandonment. It sounded every bit as dramatic as it probably is.
“People in any organization are always attached to the obsolete – the things that should have worked but did not, the things that once were productive and no longer are.” (Peter Drucker)
People in modern business and companies need to be agile and responsive. I am not about to throw out every shirt in the wardrobe, but I need to periodically look at each and ask if it is really still relevant. Am I really going to wear it again, if not what’s it costing me to have it hanging there in the wardrobe. What’s the opportunity cost, what am I missing by not redirecting my energy and resources?
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” (Peter Drucker)
Peter Drucker also favoured a less is more approach. Make do with what you can and don’t bury yourself in processes and procedures that are not absolutely necessary. Why have 10 shirts if you really only ever wear 5 of them and the others just gather dust. In this very materialistic world we live in, we are all guilty of unnecessary excess and a lack of patience. Often this translates into our business behaviours where we search frantically for the next new thing that will give us the edge, make us market leaders, make us indispensable to our clients. Before we know it we can find ourselves labouring under the weight of redundant processes and procedures, implementing ineffectual change and losing site of the strategic end game.
Yes, it’s not just about business, it’s about you too
All this is very applicable to your personal and professional performance and development as well. As we all madly search for the panacea to our development ills, we have an inclination to load ourselves to the hilt with new ideas and leap into fads. I know this, I am a self-confessed expert. It’s addictive, like looking for those lotto numbers, that next big swing in a share price etc. Frankly, I don’t think there is anything wrong at all with trying new ideas, but there is also no need to feel guilty about bidding farewell to unproductive practices.
By way of example, consider how often we write up a development goal at the beginning of a year only to find it gradually loses its relevance over the measurement period. No problems, move on and set a new goal or an adjusted goal. Development goals are incredibly important. Review them regularly and make sure they are adding value, they are relevant and they align with you development strategies. You’ve not failed when a development goal loses relevance. You have failed though if you fail to recognise it’s no longer relevant and you guard it. Plan to abandon it.
The Final Wrap
Make review a regular routine. Don’t be afraid to look at every aspect of your business, or as it may be, your personal and professional development program. Pare it back to ensure you are only expending effort on those activities that add value. Be strong and exit activities that don’t add value – abandon them. Understand how your activities align with your strategies and review them to make sure they stay relevant. Making room for new opportunities is equally as important as finding those new opportunities.
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Many thanks to James Westmore for his wonderful artwork