“Instinct must be thwarted just as one prunes the branches of a tree so that it will grow better.” -Henri Matisse
If you live in a part of the country that hasn’t seen bright blue sky in a few months, you’re probably looking forward to the promise of spring. Master gardeners know exactly when to prune plants to ensure new buds and growth. They accept that pruning is an important step in keeping plants healthy. While the “crew cut” result might look bad initially, pruning is a way of strengthening the plant or tree for the future.
Similarly, business leaders need to schedule time to prune. Rather than constantly looking for and adding new products and services, smart leaders eliminate what is nonessential and focus attention on what is most valuable to their organizations and teams. Unless we cut away what is wasting time, draining resources or simply not working, we risk our business health. Ask yourself questions like:
- When we added the new product last year, did it make anything else obsolete or unnecessary?
- If we were to eliminate the bottom 10% of our services, what difference would it make in our profitability–and how negatively might it impact our customers?
- Have we hired new employees to help support others who are not performing at the level we require? Is it time to let the non-performer go?
- If we were to stop doing one non-revenue generating activity, would there be a significant consequence?
- Are the extra meetings we added to get ourselves aligned still necessary, or can we free up that time for other actions?
Before spring arrives, get out your “pruning shears” and courageously examine what you might eliminate that is not serving you and your business well. Ensure your own growth, health and sustainability by cutting away dead wood and allowing new strong branches to grow and thrive.