Companies need more time, talent, and resources. To fuel winning moves, you must shift focus and investment away from less promising options. In Chapter 4 of Rhythm: How to Achieve Breakthrough Execution and Accelerate Growth, Patrick Thean tackles this challenge - how to identify and halt initiatives and activities that are distracting you from what truly matters. He advocates developing a “stop doing” list – an inventory of the projects, processes, and work streams that should be simplified, outsourced, or eliminated.
Why “Stop Doing” Is Crucial
It’s easy for leadership teams to fall into a “just one more priority” mindset. The temptation is always present to add new projects, products, or initiatives based on exciting possibilities or external requests. But as Thean comments: “Great winning moves wait for no man or woman! Use your Think Rhythm to develop the supply of winning moves you need for a brilliant future.”
With the discipline to prune less promising work, you end up overextended and able to give your accurate winning moves the resourcing needed to deliver transformational impact.
Assessing Losing Moves
Thean introduces a simple model for identifying possible “losing moves”:
- Low Impact on Revenue – How much potential revenue does this project or initiative genuinely have over the next 3-5 years? Be ruthlessly honest.
- High Use of Resources – How much budget, talent, and leadership time are being soaked up to maintain this?
- Initiatives that consume significant resources without moving the revenue needle should raise scrutiny.
Common losing moves include:
- Legacy Products – Old products account for shrinking revenue and consume increasing support.
- SPEC Projects – “Something Previously Enjoyed Completing” – personal hobbies draining resources.
- Bureaucracy Layers – Added management overhead, no longer delivering value.
- Duplicative Efforts – Workstreams are overlapping with similar goals across silos.
- Low ROI Processes – Investments of effort exceeding the value created.
Steps for Developing Your “Stop Doing” List
Thean suggests a three-step process for identifying initiatives to eliminate:
- Assess all existing projects/programs.
- Catalog all major ongoing work streams, committees, and estimated resources required.
- Classify as “keep doing” or “stop doing.”
- Analyze each based on true revenue impact and current resourcing needs. Be data-driven but also willing to challenge sacred cows.
- Develop a “stop doing” plan.
- For losing initiatives selected for termination, detail steps, responsibilities, and timelines for winding them down. Move talent and budget to higher potential winning moves.
Overcoming Resistance to “Stop Doing”
Some leaders must refrain from halting initiatives they have launched or funded for years. But regularly pruning losing moves has enormous benefits:
- More focus on high-impact winning moves with the most significant growth potential.
- Improved efficiency as depleted resources get redeployed to priority projects.
- Heightened accountability as teams know efforts must tie directly to critical goals.
- Greater agility to pivot as business conditions evolve.
As Thean summarizes: “Great companies are always killing products, projects, and services that customers no longer want. Know what to stop doing.”
Key Rhythm Chapter 4 Takeaways
The core lessons from this chapter include the following:
- Resist the temptation to add more perpetually. Be disciplined about what to eliminate.
- Analyze all initiatives through lenses of revenue impact and resources required.
- Develop a “stop doing” list and execute resourcing transitions thoughtfully but deliberately.
- Continually evaluate efforts to ensure they align with and fuel today’s winning moves.
- Embrace constantly re-prioritizing work rather than assuming all activities remain strategically crucial.
Pruning losing moves proactively frees up the space and talent needed to capitalize on your highest potential winning moves. This enables transforming from good to excellent execution.
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