How to Succeed at Endings

Playing catch-up means you’re behind. You hung on too long.

You limp along because the people around the table won’t vote themselves out of a job. They’re posturing, preserving, protecting. They’re maintaining status, position, and security.

Those who can’t succeed at endings end up in crisis.

sunflower ending-001

Rise above the idea that ending things represents failure.

One reason to end it:

“Activities need to stop because they can no longer demonstrate good growth potential…” Rita Gunther McGrath author of “The End of Competitive Advantage.”

Will current behaviors, processes, or activities grow you into the future? The operative word is “grow.”

If you aren’t growing you’re dying.

McGrath believes that playing to win includes developing strategies for healthy disengagement.

Developing a strategy of disengagement means moving:

  1. From defending advantage to the bitter end to ending advantages frequently, formally, and systematically.
  2. From exits viewed as strategically undesirable to emphasis on retaining learning from exits.
  3. From exits that occur unexpectedly and with great drama to exits occurring in steady rhythm.
  4. From focus on objective facts to focus on subjective early warning signs.

From “The End of Competitive Advantage” page 54.

Strong leadership:

McGrath explains that it takes strong leadership to engage in healthy disengagement. Three possible options:

  1. Create a dedicated disengagement team.
  2. Aggressively and frequently change the management team.
  3. Empower CEO’s to drive regular evaluations of what needs to end.

From “The End of Competitive Advantage” pages 57-58.

Bonus material:

McGrath’s definition of strategy (92 sec.):

McGrath on the elements of sustainable advantage (91 sec.): 

What makes leaders hang on too long?

How can leaders help organizations engage in healthy disengagement?


Do yourself a favor and connect with Rita:

Twitter: @rgmcrath