What Needs to Die in your Business?

What Needs to Die in your Business ?

To be let go of so the organization can live on?

Most often in business, leadership is intent on ensuring the longevity of the organization.  This is totally understandable.  Buried in this strong (partly conscious and mostly unconscious) intention to survive is the capacity to accept ‘death’.  This lost capacity results in a diminished ability for the organization to move forward ultimately resulting in its own demise.

Death can be known by many other names.  However it is most often assumed to mean the death of the body.  This primary and primal association blinds most of us to the amazing tool ‘death’ can be.

Here are some words that are interchangeable with the word death:


Ended                                             Completed                                             Killed

Terminated                                   Shelved                                                  Let go

Fired                                               Reduced                                                Underfunded

Cut                                                   Released                                                Decreased

Loss                                                Defeated                                                Moved beyond


Typically something will happen in an organization, an event with one or more of the above words attached to it.  It could sound like this; “Oh we shelved that idea and moved on.”  Or it could sound like this; “They reduced the budget, cut some spending and decreased staff levels.” Or “The board defeated the motion so the CEO was let go.”  Embedded in each of these three examples are deaths and often more than one ending per event.

Management and staff most times notice these events, but the happenings often are not given their due.  By this I mean there is no real acknowledgment of the ‘death’, and no opportunity is given staff to complete, debrief, download or simply let go.  It is this very lack of healthy closure that will ultimately bog the organization down by dragging the incompletion into the next project thus muddying the creative energy of the team.  Over time this failure to complete paralyzes the company.

In order for an organization to maintain its energy and vibrancy some rituals or healthy endings need to be created.  Designing let go processes that all staff can use in order to be as fully complete as possible must become a company priority.  What happens when endings are left hanging is negative energy, thoughts, and beliefs tend to populate the work environment.  These thoughts though invisible can really drain creativity and productivity.

Here is a simple example.

The Event

Sam gets fired and leaves the company unexpectedly.  No good-byes were encouraged.  One day Sam was there, the next he was gone.  There was little or no explanation to the remaining staff team on-site and the larger team Sam connected with daily.  There was an announcement.

The Result

The remaining staff team on-site was confused, concerned, and somewhat fearful of their own security.  Colleagues off-site had no idea what happened, they could only guess and wonder.  Gossip, worry, and negativity were common at the water cooler.  A fair bit of staff energy was lost to chatter around the termination of Sam, and the replacement for Sam had a tough time fitting in.


Much Like a house with all the lights on, a costly power drain, we human beings are very similar.  If we have not completed and fully processed an event it remains lit up in mind-body consuming energy unnecessarily.  Depleting our reserves these incomplete events tire us out leaving us less able to function at a high level of output.

What was Missing

An opportunity for healthy closure, debriefing, and a good-bye or completion.

Had there been an appropriate opportunity for staff to understand the termination, have their say, and come to an acceptance of the firing a lot of potential wasted energy, time, and effort would have been saved.  A healthy good-bye would also have created a much warmer environment for the new staff member to step into, and though the loss may still have hurt a bit, staff moral would not have been damaged and perhaps could have been improved.

This ‘death’ would not have hung around the workplace like a bad smell for days, weeks, and perhaps even months, compromising the team’s ability to be productive, enjoy their work and move forward to meet new challenges.

What needs to die in your organization in order that you power up?

What healthy closure activities can you put in place to support the practice of good endings? Darin Erstad Jersey

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