“What should we stop doing?”

If you are going to pose the question “what should we stop doing” you must be prepared to discuss the responses, honestly and without judgment. Otherwise you risk setting the impression that you don’t really plan to make any changes which can result in turning your staff off.

My personal experience with this question has not been good. At one association staff were asked to post suggestions of things the organization could stop doing. I posted my recommendation to stop a program.  Shortly after my post went up I was approached by the senior staff member who oversaw the program and asked to remove my recommendation. No discussion, no asking why I made the recommendation, just the request. So, I removed the post and ended my engagement in the effort.

At another organization I recommended we stop hosting a program that I led.  The executive staff member was basically offended and told me that I could not understand the organization mission if I wanted to end this program.  This time there was a little follow up discussion, but the tone and questioning were not encouraging or engaging.

Thankfully, I am not a shrinking violet, so making these recommendations was not difficult for me personally. But for staff less comfortable expressing their opinion, these situations could have marked the end of real engagement.

Both situations could have been salvaged with a good discussion.  Had senior staff been prepared to have real dialogue about the programs or my insights I think I would have listened. These could have been opportunities to inform me of program value or information I was unaware of or explore other ways that we might better meet the goals of the programs.

Here are a few questions you might consider if you start this discussion:

    • How does the program/resource serve your mission?
    • How does the program serve a core member segment?
    • How else could we serve our mission?
    • How could we improve the existing program to better serve members, the mission and the organization?
    • Which of our programs could we emphasize instead?

You could also try using the Five Whys Game to better understand why staff are recommending a program or resource be ended.  The game essentially poses five why questions to try to get beyond the surface of a challenge and discover the root cause.

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