Top positive review
Pruning applies to big issues like ending relationships with people and projects
Reviewed in the United States on April 11, 2017
We have a finite amount of energy, time and money available. What is spent on the wrong things cannot be spent on the right ones.
Gardeners get this: They understand the need to remove diseased, overmature, or unwanted portions from the rose bush. They know that pruning encourages denser growth and more profuse flowering by concentrating the plant's energy on continued flower production.
Part of the lifecycle of plants is the need for pruning. Part of the lifecycle of people and organizations is the need for pruning. Pruning applies to big issues like ending relationships with people and projects, and small ones like scrapping parts of the Monday morning meeting agenda that no longer add value. More important issues cannot be added to the time tight agenda unless other items are removed.
Clouds’ book, Necessary Endings, is a guide to ending relationships that are no longer working, investments that are not performing, so we can use the finite amounts of time, energy and money that we have for what can work. To do that effectively we need to be clear what we are dealing with so we do not end what we should persevere with and not persevere with what we should end.
A useful rule of thumb is his distinction between “hoping” and “wishing.” Hoping is when the expectation of an improvement in staff productivity or an investment returns is based on sound evidence or reasoning. In contrast, wishing is the baseless expectation of improvement of the situation.
Jack Welch was a legendary pruner. He pruned any companies that were not number one or number two in their industries or on their way to becoming number one or number two. He instructed his managers to spoil the top 20% of their staff, take care for “solid” 70% and fire the bottom 10%. Both the business and the staff were stronger for this as evidenced by GE’s spectacular results during his twenty year tenure as Chairman and CEO.
Cost cutting should not be confused with pruning. Pruning is strategic, cost cutting often results in fewer people required to do more with less, hardly a clever strategic move.
Cloud, a clinical psychologist, explores the many emotional traps that prevent us from ending what is necessary. They range from the mistaken belief that “winners don’t quit and quitters don’t win” to the feeling that “we may be in hell, but at least we know every street.” Even when there is no longer any reason to believe that the project, employee, relationship or partnership will ever come right people decline to effect the necessary ending. This feels preferable to being labeled the “bad guy” by oneself or others.
There are books for gardeners on how to prune the roses. Executed competently, you get great blooms and done purely or not at all, you will have ungainly, leggy growth with bare branches at the base. Necessary Endings is probably the business equivalent.
The good times can not start until the bad times end.
Readability Light --+-- Serious
Insights High -+--- Low
Practical High +---- Low
Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy