Why You Need to Kill Your Company

Sometimes you have to destroy your business in order to save it.” James Surowiecki

What sort of insane person would suggest that you should kill your company? This seems like the most stupid idea ever but . . . I believe the concept of killing your company has a lot of merit.

Of course I am not talking about literally killing your business or organization. Rather, I am suggesting that you and your leadership team brainstorm to define all the ways you could kill your business or all of the events that could potentially happen that would kill your business. You then take these company killing ideas and events and, rather than implementing them, you build strategies to fortify your business against them.

This idea comes from Lisa Bodell and her book Kill the Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution . I have summarized the process below.

  1. Invite your business leadership team to a meeting try to gather a diverse group from all areas of the business
  2. Pose the following question to the team: “Imagine you are our main competitor and have unlimited funds and resources at your disposal. What would you do right now to put us out of business?”
  3. Collect as many ideas as possible in a one hour time frame
  4. Prioritize the biggest threats by;
    • Clustering the ideas by themes
    • Rating them on 2 dimensions in a four quadrant chart
      • Vertically – likelihood of the event happening (Low to High)
      • Horizontally – the impact on the business if it did happen (Low to High)
    • The top right quadrant would be the highest business impact ideas with the highest probability of occurrence
    • The graph will look something like this:
    • killthecompanylikelihood
  5. Then rate your competitor’s ability to implement versus the impact on the business by;
    • Clustering by themes as above
    • Rating them on 2 dimensions in a four quadrant chart
      • Vertically – competitors’ ability to implement (Difficult to Easy)
      • Horizontally – the impact on the business if it did happen (Low to High)
    • The top right quadrant would be the highest business impact ideas and the easiest to implement for a competitor
    • The graph will look something like this:
    • killthecompanycompetitor
  6. Finally, ask your team three questions;
    • Now that we know what the competition could do to us, how do we stop them?
    • What strategies can we implement to protect us against these situations ?
    • What strategies can we implement that will protect us from the threat and differentiate us from the competition?

Spend some time in the next week with your team and discover the value of killing your company!

Download the Kill the Company Excel graphing templates from the Business Tools page.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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