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When you know an initiative is doomed

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SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 150,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each Tuesday in our e-newsletter.

Last week we asked: When you know an initiative is doomed regardless of what you do, how does your organization respond?

  • We immediately cut our losses, learn from it, and move on, 38%
  • We keep trying to make it work through heroic efforts, 24%
  • We stop working on it and let it wither without explicitly killing it, 19%
  • We make some effort to make it work but eventually declare defeat, 19%

Losses are painful to take.  I applaud the 38% of you who see the lost cause and act decisively.  Throwing good money (and time and effort) after bad only compounds the problem.  Try to look at the problem objectively and realize it is a sunk cost.  Ask yourself: “Knowing what I know today, is it a good investment to put another dollar or hour into this project?”  If the answer is no, step up as a leader and stop the bleeding. Go invest your resources in other more promising ventures.  Your organization will be better off when you do.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of ThoughtLeaders.