Strategic abandonment


There’s absolutely no chance your business can successfully operate in the same way today that it did five years ago. Too much has changed – customers, competitors, business conditions, technology, etc. The ingredients that made you successful five years ago have changed, disappeared, perhaps strengthened.

And yet change and innovation is one of the most complicated and challenging issues facing existing business. It’s why start-ups can gain such incredible traction on entrenched market leaders, because they’re starting from scratch with a new set or rules, assumptions and business practices that more directly map to current conditions.

Peter Drucker called this systematic abandonment, the deliberate process of letting go of familiar products in favor of the new or as yet unknown. He offered clients three key questions to focus their thinking on strategic abandonment:

  • If you weren’t in this business today, would you invest the resources to enter it?
  • What unconscious assumptions might constrain your business practices and limit your innovative thinking?
  • Are your highest-achieving people assigned to innovative opportunities? Or are they merely working on yesterday’s problems and yesterday’s products?

These are difficult questions to answer, and far more difficult to put into practice. But the hard questions, and even harder conversations, are key to innovation and growth.