10 Barriers to Progress That Should Be Dumped

Most organizations wonder why the progress they seek towards achieving their strategic goals doesn’t materialize.In my experience, it’s usually because there is too much energy being consumed by non-strategic activities that drain the organization of emotional energy yet produce very little.

These 10 activities suck resources and should be dumped (and if only 25% were eradicated, you would be amazed at the difference you would see).

Committee Work

There are too many committees in any organization. How many committees do you have working on stuff? Do an audit and you will be shocked with what you discover.What would happen if you reduced the number by 50% and empowered folks to make a decision and get on with execution?Committees are charged with the responsibility of coming up with recommendations that satisfy everyone. The results are watered-down decisions that are made after consuming far too much time and forgettable results.


Too much analysis can paralyze an organization and is symptomatic of being afraid to make a call. And I have also found that it is the result of people loving the practice of analysis in and of itself rather than viewing it as a means to the end. “Analysis fiends” are in every organization.Don’t over analyze anything. Do the amount of study that is consistent with the decision to be made. A $10 million decision will need more analysis than a $100K one.

Squeezing out the last 5% improvement

Everyone has a mission to get something perfect in a world that cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty. It’s a crazy quest that will never happen.The problem is that while you are driving for a perfect solution you are taking up precious time and energy that could be used on something else more productive. Get whatever you’re doing just about right and spend extra time on figuring out how to execute the imperfect solution flawlessly.


What does co-ordinating actually do? What value is there in it? It has an activity rather than a results oriented purpose and is generally employed in circumstances where teamwork fails or internal systems are deficient in some way. When marketing and sales don’t work well together, a co-ordinator is assigned to improve teamwork — addressing symptoms only — without dealing with the essential causes of dysfunction.

Consensus building

You can’t satisfy everyone. Leadership is all about making the tough call and making the best use of resources available. Trying to reach consensus in many cases is an impossible dream. Furthermore most consensus solutions are watered down to satisfy everyone and fall short of delivering the most effective results.

Following rules

Every organization has a set of internal rules, policies and procedures they operate by. And in many cases they actually stultify creativity and innovation. Sure, some rules are necessary. but some are also dumb. What if you reduced the number of rules by 50% over the next 30 days?Do you think it would open up the possibilities for people to do new things and achieve progress quicker? Yup I think so.

Punishing failure

This is a great way to beat innovation out of a person. If you’re not tryingdifferent things that don’t always work out, you’re not moving forward. Failing is a necessary component of success. Honour failure and those who deliver it.

Giving orders

Giving orders is the result of leadership’s inability to convince people to follow them; it’s an admission of failure. And it generally results in grumbling and push back which impedes improvement and progress.Managers do it. Change leaders don’t. If leaders have prepared people well, they will do the right thing.


Benchmarking is the enemy of strategic progress. It may help you improve your operating performance but copying will never make you remarkable and different so you can succeed in executing on your strategic intent. Consider best in class as the highest bar to be different from. If you stop at best in class you are like every other organization in the herd and progress toward your strategic goals will elude you.

Following the job description

I suppose if you want a bunch of robots with no spirit of innovation and creativity, force every person in the organization to do precisely what their job description says with no deviation. The problem is that this flies in the face of being able to progress in the complex marketplace every organization plays, where sticking to the plan sometimes doesn’t work and new approaches are required to meet new challenges that suddenly come up.Meaningful progress in any organization can only be achieved if we have a workforce encouraged to innovate to do the new right things to move ahead, not managed to adhere to a job description that just might deliver what is no longer required.This is a classic list of ten things practised by control management organizations; progressive organizations find a way to break away from as many of these as they can as quickly as possible.Related: The Pain That Sales Pushers Cause