Stop doing and add value

Stop doing and add value

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Do this.
Start that.
Add another idea.
Layer a different process.

All around is the quest for more. Bigger, different, shiny things to transport whatever you’re doing to the next level or a new place.

But is more the answer?

Try this.

Do less. Scale back and instead inspect what’s happening now for places you can stop doing to add value.

Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great and management thinker, famously has a running stop-doing list. He regularly takes a look at what needs to bite the dust. Sometimes to make room for something else and other times because that thing has ceased to serve him.

I think everyone can benefit from a stop-doing list when thinking about brand. What are the pockets of practice, process and principle eroding value?

For example, do you spend time policing logos and colours when the real hit to value comes from clunky distribution? How about applying distracting layers of brand fluff, such as personality, when you already have a set of values? Or ask staff to change how they treat customers while continuing to incentivise them the old way.

Humanity has become wired for more, something ideas like ‘minimalism’ try to counter. But stop doing isn’t about the trumped-up virtue of pairing back to one shirt or pair of shoes and mostly bare walls. Organisations are rife with a lot of unavoidable complexity. Still, people ladle unnecessary dollops of ‘more’ without considering what is currently happening.

A brand is a store of value created by everything you do. Which means there’s a deep well of stop-doing places.

Collins suggests you add a stop-doing objective for every new one planned. Other ideas include ranking your priorities and chopping off the bottom 20%. And asking if you had a blank page, what would you choose to do?

Those are good places to begin. Here are a few other places to search for stop-doings.

Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit of meetings. When people attend an average of 62 meetings per month, it’s time to ask how many truly serve your purpose.

New product features. More functionality, more value. Right. Maybe not. A bank developing a new phone app looked discovered most people only used 20% of its features. I’m seeing this on steroids right now as every platform I use races to add AI to ‘help me work faster’…

Lastly, the pursuit of change in any form. Where the approach nearly always starts with more and routinely strips value.

In his book “Brave New Work”, Aaron Dignan talks about stopping doing as a crucial aspect of change; after all, new ways of doing and being always require us to shed something.

“In heavily bureaucratic systems often the smartest thing you can do is remove … a policy, a layer, a meeting, a budget, or a project … So while everyone is giddy with the excitement of what we should do, add, and try, take the opportunity to ask them what we should stop doing… and you’ll be amazed at what emerges.”

There are situations when you will need to add a new project or process, way of working or connecting to customers. Environments shift, and new players can upend settled sectors. A continuum of complexity is the underlying operating reality of every organisation.

But before you push anything into that mix, ask, “Is there something I can stop doing instead?”

See you next time

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