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What defines an organization is that it says "no" more than "yes." That's because creativity is a double-edged sword. While new ideas get the juices flowing and get people excited, they also come with a real cost.
What's far more complex, is finding the capacity inside the organization to chase down that new idea. When an organization decides to pursue a new idea, it's forced to make a difficult decision. How should they go about tackling the unique opportunity? The answer is "Kill 2 and Add 1."
Few, if any, organizations have extra staff sitting on the bench, waiting idly for the next new opportunity to come along. To properly chase down that new opportunity, the organization must divert people and resources from somewhere else. And that's when the trouble starts.
To make the new idea come to fruition, management might ask the team to work extra hours or find ways to become more efficient to get the work done.
The real danger here is that the more ideas you have your team chasing, not only will they risk burnout, but you will also lose focus. While it might seem like a lot of activity is happening, nothing is getting done.
Every organization needs three areas of focus. Otherwise, management has committed the cardinal sin of diluting its resources.
Many organizations turn to one common strategy to substitute one initiative for another. If the priority is to chase the new idea, for example, management specifies another area that should be killed off: add 1; kill 1.
While this approach might make sense, it doesn't do enough to move the needle. Often it involves adding a significant new initiative and then killing off something small and inconsequential. You've still left your team under-resourced and over-burdened. They still have too many priorities to focus on.
the most focused and effective organizations rely on what we might call the "Kill 2; Add 1" approach. In other words, if you want the team to chase down a new opportunity, then they also need to stop doing two other initiatives.
While that might seem draconian, it's the overlooked secret to helping teams keep focused and effective in ways where they can execute--fast.
The discipline of removing two ideas for each one you add will provide an increasing focus for your team. Focus means the projects really matter and they will tend to get done faster, and the company gets the benefit earlier.
So, the next time someone on your team comes to you with a new idea to chase, smile. And then ask the question: "OK, but what two things are we going to kill first before we start this?"
The answers you get in response will go a long way to helping your team become a lean and focused execution machine.
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