The Courage To Stop

There is little doubt that the significant effects of coronavirus on the economy at large and businesses across most industries will be realized over the short and long terms.

Innovation Insights
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4
 Min read
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August 19, 2021

Innovation Insights: The Courage To Stop

There is little doubt that the significant effects of coronavirus on the economy at large and businesses across most industries will be realized over the short and long terms. Recent Innovation Advisory Councils have included robust discussions around what actions, behaviors, technologies, and new thinking, in general, will deliver the lasting, positive change that most businesses are working toward as we prepare for 2021. It has been refreshing to hear senior IT leaders across our Councils point to accelerated transformations they have designed and executed in order to serve customers, enable a distributed workforce, and even spur new growth models for their organizations. The examples, from healthcare, education, retail, and manufacturing, have been inspiring and representative of the innovative group of Council members we are proud to assemble every year.

A best practice that has emerged from these discussions has been a tried-and-true approach to driving focus and ideating better ways to execute workflows, processes, and ideas generally. This tactic, known as "Start-Stop-Continue," has been used by senior leaders long before today’s pandemic reality. It is predicated on a simple assumption: those ideas that have significant benefits while consuming the least effort/time/resource should take priority. "Start-Stop-Continue" has been adopted in different ways by different leaders, and recent Council discussions revealed it has been a frequent boardroom conversation among many Council member companies. Executing the tactic can be as simple as assembling key stakeholders and asking three fundamental questions, ultimately leading to pragmatic ideas to prioritize:

  • Where would you invest if money were not a consideration? Let’s consider how we start those…
  • What are we doing that consumes a lot of time or resources but returns little reward? Let’s consider how we stop those…
  • What are we doing that adds the most value for customers? Let’s consider how we continue those...


Hearing first-hand accounts of the ‘aha’ moments and positive momentum in executive conversations with CIOs, CISOs, CTOs has been enlightening. Many who exercised this tactic pointed to the "Stop" category as the most difficult despite the fact that stopping something frees time and resources to start potentially more worthy activities. Having the courage to stop often feels as if it negates previous thinking or points to failure; we heard, however, that Council members benefitted most when they did not allow fear, bias, or hesitance to change to dilute the important "stop" conversations and priorities. Many Council members agree that the true transformation they seek needs to focus on actions that deliver the best returns, for the most efficient level of effort, and that add the most value for customers – paving the way for a fertile discussion around what to "start-stop-continue."


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