Embracing abandonment

Management guru Peter Drucker[i] frequently used the word ‘abandonment’. I think it is one of the top ten gifts Drucker gave all of us. He said

“The first step in a growth policy is not to decide where and how to grow. It is to decide what to abandon. To grow, a business must have a systematic policy to get rid of the outgrown, the obsolete, and the unproductive.”

He frequently said that abandonment is the key to innovation. He also put it another way:

“Don’t tell me what you’re doing, tell me what you’ve stopped doing.”

Peter Drucker observed, in one organisation, that the first Monday of every month is set aside for ‘abandonment meetings’ at every management level.  Each session targets a different area so that during a year everything is given the once-over.

Recently management writers have caught on to this noting, ‘People add rather than subtract to solve problems.’  Leidy Klotz[ii], says the findings of his study explain how people’s inability to subtract relates to all kinds of situations, such as when it comes to managing overburdened schedules, the creation of red tape in institutions, and humanity’s exhaustion of the planet’s resources.

[i] Peter F Drucker “The effective executive” 2002, “Managing in Turbulent Times” 1993, “Managing in a Time of Great Change” 1995, “Management Challenges for the 21st century” 1999, “Managing the nonprofit organization” 1992

[ii] Leidy E. Klotz “Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less”, Flatiron Books, 2021


The Leidy Klotz’s checklist on your addiction to ‘adding’
Do you spend more time acquiring information—whether through podcasts, websites, or conversation—than you spend distilling what you already know?  Yes   No
Do you add new rules in your workplace more often than you take rules away?  Yes   No
Have you started more organizations, initiatives, and activities than you have phased out?  Yes   No
Do you spend more time writing more content than editing what’s there?  Yes   No
Do you have more stuff than you used to?  Yes   No
Are you busier today than you were three years ago?  Yes   No
Have more projects started in the last six months than completed?  Yes   No

Next steps

  1. Read the full article here.
  2. Buy the leadership toolkit called Winning Leadership: A Model on Leadership For The Millennial Manager” – Toolkit (120 page PDF whitepaper + e-templates).


David Parmenter is an international presenter who is known for his thought provoking and lively sessions, which have led to substantial change in many organisations. He has spoken in 31 countries. John Wiley & Sons Inc have published his four books.

David has also worked for Ernst & Young, BP Oil Ltd, Arthur Andersen, and Price Waterhouse.  David is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.