Your Not-to-Do List

Posted on Dec 31, 2010 | 7 Comments

If you’re like most people, you’re working on a list of resolutions for 2011: Eat healthy. Go to the gym more. Read the classics. But Peter Drucker would have likely asked you for a different kind of list: What are you going to stop doing?

As we’ve noted before, Drucker believed that “planned abandonment” is among the most important things that any organization can engage in. After all, shedding yesterday’s products, programs and policies is the only way to make room for the innovations of tomorrow.

But Drucker was also adamant that this same discipline should extend beyond the organization to the individual. That’s the only way one can ensure that he or she maintains proper focus and protects what for many of us is the most precious resource of all: our time.

“The job is . . . not to set priorities,” Drucker wrote in The Effective Executive, his 1967 classic. “That is easy. Everybody can do it.  The reason why so few executives concentrate is the difficulty of setting ‘posteriorities’—that is, deciding what tasks not to tackle—and of sticking to the decision.”

In a 2004 interview with Forbes, Drucker asserted that leaders, in particular, need to make the setting of posteriorities—well, a priority. “The most dangerous traps for a leader are those near-successes where everybody says that if you just give it another big push it will go over the top,” Drucker said. “One tries it once. One tries it twice. One tries it a third time. But by then it should be obvious this will be very hard to do. So, I always advise my friend Rick Warren (the pastor at Saddleback Church), ‘Don’t tell me what you’re doing, Rick. Tell me what you stopped doing.’”

How about you? What do you pledge to stop doing in 2011?


  1. diane
    December 31, 2010

    I decided to stop doing things I’m not very good at or interested in. I’m getting much better at leveraging my strengths & engaging my passions and finding others to do the things I don’t enjoy or excel in. I believe this strategy will set me on a better course for excellence, creativity, innovation and work-life balance.

  2. @circlesofsa
    December 31, 2010

    As a coalition we have abandonded projects that other organizations do better or have not proven to make community level change.

  3. Levi Smith
    December 31, 2010

    I recently challenged our team to adopt the practice of maintaining a stop doing list and for accountability, sharing it with each other. In a recent blog post I wrote, I added this as number ten on a list of things you can do to show appreciation to your team. It may sound like an odd item to have on such a list, but your team needs to know that you support their efforts to shift their work and responsibilities to be attentive to new personal and professional priorities.

  4. Alba Patricia Valencia
    January 3, 2011

    The language of God is Silence and his practice of silence in the pursuit of truth, brings our consciousness inner peace. This year 2011, I promise not to stay silent about the injustices committed in the word, particularly, those directed at the Education System.

    I believe and share the view of our Liberator Simon Bolivar “…an ignorant people is a blind instrument of its own destruction…”

    Así, el lenguaje de Dios sea silencio y la práctica del silencio en la búsqueda de la verdad brinda en nuestra conciencia paz interior. Este año 2011, Yo prometo no quedarme callada ante las injusticias cometidas en el mundo, particularmente, las dirigidas al Sistema Educativo.

    Yo creo y comparto con nuestro Libertador Simón Bolívar “…un pueblo ignorante es instrumento ciego de su propia destrucción…”

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    [...] Your Not-to-Do List | The Drucker Exchange [...]

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