Business & Management

The Practice of Abandonment – Knowing When to Pull the Plug

Peter F. Drucker is considered to be “The Guru” of modern day management theory and practice. It’s quite surprising – and a revelation – that I hadn’t read any of his writings until today. Last month, I did pick up “The Daily Drucker – 366 Days of Insight and Motivation for Getting the Right Things Done,” but never found the time to read a page. “The Daily Drucker” is a unique book; it gives management wisdom in small actionable nuggets, one for each day of the year.

Here’s some useful advise I picked up on deciding when to abandon that pet project which seems to be heading nowhere. Drucker says that in three cases the right action is always outright abandonment:

  1. Abandonment is the right action if a product, service, market, or process “still has a few years of life.” It is these dying products, services, or processes that always demand the greatest care and the greatest efforts. They tie down the most productive and ablest people.
  2. But equally, a product, service, market, or process should be abandoned if the only argument for keeping it is “It is fully written off.” For management purposes there are no “cost-less assets.” There are only “sunk costs.”
  3. The third case where abandonment is the right policy – and the most important one – is the one where, for the sake of maintaining the old or declining product, service, market, or process the new and growing product, service, market, or process is being stunted or neglected.

Can you think of any other situation in which you should abandon ship?

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