Editing required

Good business is not always about adding more, it's also about knowing when and where to take away.

Many years ago I was working at a very large financial services firm.

The business was incredibly well-established with a strong portfolio of clients that had taken decades to build.

By all obvious metrics - this was a strong, profitable organisation.

Then the company appointed a new CEO - a man with considerable experience and a razor-sharp strategic mind. He was a no bullshit kind of guy that would literally stop you mid-sentence if he suspect he knew what you were about to say.

Almost immediately after he was appointed, he decided that the business was spending way too much time and valuable resources on administering and looking after clients that were not worthwhile having - so he set about getting rid of most of them.

He took a flamethrower to the old client portfolio, and kept only the good ones.

He edited out about 60% of the business. Gone forever.

His argument was that "not all business is good business" - and often you need to edit out all of the business that is serving as a distraction, a drain on your limited resources - so that you can focus your best efforts on the clients / sides of the business that offer real future potential.

In the case of this company, the intervention worked. The business went on to becoming even more profitable and successful as a result.

Often what happens, over many years of business operation, is that the outcomes of old projects, old campaigns, old work, old thinking all build up and up - without ever being tested for their ongoing relevance to the future vision of a company.

These relics of the past end up being an unquestioned drag on the true potential of that business - drawing in energy and slowing everything down.

Just like fine tuning anything to get it to a point where it is functions optimally; every business could do with editing.

Ditching products and services that are under performing, getting rid of work that no longer serves a purpose, turning away clients that are more of a pain than they are worth.

Good business is not always about adding more, it's also about knowing when and where to take away.