Can you create space for your new strategic actions?

An organisation has to create the space for new action to flourish by regularly and systematically challenging what it does.

Every organisation leaves a trail behind it. Some new things fail to live up to their promise, some things that used to work become obsolete. Unlike Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand or Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest, no natural force exists to terminate activity within a company. Someone will always fight for their persistence, avoiding unsettling change or the appearance of failure.

This means that management have to wield the scalpel with their own hands.

One thing most likely to stifle new strategic action is a lack of space. As important as space in people’s calendars is space in people’s heads. The baggage from action-past sucks your organisation’s time and energy, with the old assumptions and ways holding you back until you can draw a line under your past.

And the easiest way to complete the past is to stop doing it.

List out everything you do. Products, markets, channels, customers, initiatives, systems, projects, policies, processes, meetings, reports. Apply the 80/20 rule. Up the ante by asking “What would you not start now if you weren’t doing it already? What would happen if we didn’t do this?” Bring your people into the discussion, energising them by making it clear that the intention is to create space for the new, not to eliminate jobs.

Once organisational space has been created, the new will rush in.