Explore a real-world example of this strategy and its effects. Explore a case study where success—and survival—required letting go of products and approaches that were once an ingrained part of the corporate fabric.
- I want to give you an example of the prune-to-gro concept by telling you about a company called Nabob Foods Limited, a packaged foods company with a wide portfolio of grocery products. Some years ago, they were facing tremendous challenges. Costs were outpacing profits. Market share was down and bankruptcy was looming on the horizon. The owner saw the writing the wall. So, as a last ditch effort, they hired a promising young executive named John Bell as VP of marketing. Bell would have to make some tough decisions about the company's 12 different product lines if he wanted to help the organization survive. His strategy was to pour all the company's investment and energy into the products that really mattered and let go of the others. He believed that offered the best chance for a turnaround. Right off the bat, he led Nabob to dissolve eight of its 12 products. Needless to say, this was a controversial move. Some of these brands had a long history and a loyal consumer following. Two more followed shortly after that. And suddenly, the general grocer emerged as a specialist in coffee and to some extent tea. The choice had immediate consequences. The company's portfolio value dropped from $70 million to $40 million. One plant closed, more than 300 jobs were eliminated. But of course, the alternative was much worse. Moving forward, Nabob pursued the coffee business with a laser light focus. The company retrained its employees as coffee specialists. It developed an innovative vacuum sealed packaging process that was the first of its kind in the industry. And it launched a dynamic advertising campaign that helped it compete with industry giants Craft and Nestle. Within two years, Nabob had captured an astounding 25% of the Canadian coffee market. Bell eventually became the CEO and the organization's profits soared. In fact, the brand became so valuable that it was later purchased by Craft. With Bell's guidance, the executives at Nabob had to make a radical counterintuitive move. They consciously chose to let go of the products that were draining the company and concentrate on the ones with the greatest potential for success. Without that strategic change, the organization would have likely closed its doors. The same thing happens when individual leaders are facing complex challenges. Letting go is rarely the first inclination, but the constant and cumulative pressure to compete by always adding more has its limits and its consequences. Can you think of a time when you hung on too tight to a project or initiative all while amassing more work? What was the impact for you and for your team? How might you use the prune-to-gro strategy so that you can work less or in a different way to achieve more? Recognize the powerful benefits of letting go. Sometimes that applies to repetitive habits and behaviors. And other times it applies to major products, processes and large scale initiatives that you've likely championed. It's not easy to make this kind of counterintuitive move. But having the courage to defy conventional logic could be exactly the solution you need to achieve success on a much grander scale.
- Adopting the strategic pause
- Disrupting your thinking
- Balancing hard data with soft intelligence
- Reevaluating your to-do list
- Communicating to influence and engage
- Approaching challenges as a novice
- Blazing new trails
- Conquering the chaos
- Enduring leadership attributes