Purposeful Abandonment: A Prerequisite to Innovation

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Ever wonder what’s at the heart of true innovation?  When you trip across something that’s really good, do you ever wonder how they came up with that?  What processes are they using to think up such an elegant solution?  Ever think those thoughts and just find yourself stumped when it comes to your own situation?  [quote] I do!  And it drives me crazy!

I wonder if our inability to see the innovative path has to do with our inability to successfully abandon things that worked in the past?  In Managing for Results Peter Drucker wrote that “planned, purposeful abandonment of the old and of the unrewarding is a prerequisite to successful pursuit of the new and highly promising.  Above all, abandonment is the key to innovation—both because it frees the necessary resources and because it stimulates the search for the new that will replace the old (p. 143).”

When you think about your own organization, can you remember the last time you laid to rest a program that was still working “good enough”?  Maybe an idea that at one time was really a good one but whose day had come and gone?  Think about it.  In fact, this would be worth a full-day off-site.  Take your key people and wrestle through it.  Drucker’s idea is dead-on correct.  Not without pain.  Not without issues.  But it is in the planned, purposeful abandonment of yesterday’s winners that tomorrow’s can emerge.

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