Podcast Episode 65 – Do You Have a Stop List?


Do you have a stop list?

It’s human nature to try and solve a problem by starting something new. But it’s not intuitive to ask what should we stop doing to solve this problem?

This week we talk about the stop list from Jim Collins and how you should consider stopping doing something in order to free up resources or clear blockages in your business.

We also discuss the process of building a stop list rhythm, where each month, each quarter or each year, you and your team consider all the things you should stop doing.




Please note that this episode was transcribed using an AI application and may not be 100% grammatically correct – but it will still allow you to scan the episode for key content.

Kevin Lawrence  00:13

Hey, welcome to the growth whispers podcast where everything we talk about is about building enduring great companies. Not okay companies, not flash in the pan companies, not build it up and get rid of it fast or solid fast companies but enduring great companies. And I’m joined today by my co host, Brad Giles. Brad, how you doing today?

Brad Giles  00:34

Pretty good. Very good. In fact, yeah. middle of winter, I think it’s the shortest day of the year. And yeah, middle of winter. quite cold, but good. Everything is well, how are you?

Kevin Lawrence  00:49

Oh, you know what, by generally, like, you know, what’s interesting, I thought about this the other day, I always say I’m good. But I almost always feel good. It’s actually truth. And I was talking with a friend about this. And it was a mindset. And it’s basically, you know, when you burn gratitude into your brain, and you find ways to be grateful for almost everything, most things look good. And even sometimes the hard things focus, I don’t want to seem like artificial now, I am tired today. But I am also good. Like, I feel really good. I am insanely grateful, which would be my word of the day today is gratitude and gratitude of just you know, when I stop and think of how damn fortunate I am. And whether it’s related to the pandemic or just in life or just with a, you know, the amazing people that I get to spend time with my awesome kids and, you know, and family I’m, well, most of the people, my family, I would say are great. There’s always people who can drive you crazy. And I can drive them crazy, too. But insane gratitude to the point where they get hit me hard, maybe because I hadn’t had a birthday recently, but, and a bunch of stuff, like a bunch of things and what they like in insanely deep gratitude to the point. And you know, and I plan to be on this planet, at least another 50 years. I want to be healthy to 100 that’s my goal. And I hope new sounds will help me but like, sometimes I’m like, Frick, it’s so darn good. I like this is like good magic. It’s in that’s my personal gratitude. is it’s deep inside me. And I feel and today I feel an incredible amount of it. How about you? What is your word today? And I’m sure it’ll be really, really close to gratitude. Yeah.

Brad Giles  02:46

No. One is the northbound train.

Kevin Lawrence  02:49

Yeah, obviously, that’s

Brad Giles  02:52

Yeah. So there’s a guy called Frank Costa, who passed away recently here in Australia, he was president of the jilong football club. And I had the very good fortune to see him present his business and talk about his business and his passion. And we had like a walk through his business many, many years ago, like 15 or so years ago. And he was a market gardener who built a $1 billion revenue business, you know, an amazing, amazing guy. As we walk through his business, he, he talked about their passion and their culture. And we came across a wall, a huge, huge wall, which would have been, I guess, like 10 meters long. And there was this picture of the train that was painted on it, six foot high, two meters, by one point, I made it I all the length of the wall, and you couldn’t help but say, What is with that train? And he said, Oh, that’s the northbound train. In every one of our offices, we get an artist to paint a picture of a train on the wall. That paints nor the story that points north. And so we’re going north, we’re on the northbound train, if you want to go east or south or west, that’s no problem, jump off the train. But we’re going north. So if you’re not all on about it vision, if you’re not part of what we are all about, that’s okay, because we know what we’re all about. And it was just it just still, every single one of my clients. They know the northbound train, they know the story, and it’s completely okay to say to someone if you’re not on the northbound train, that’s okay. So mine is the northbound train.

Kevin Lawrence  04:47

Nice. I love that example, Brad. It’s a great example to use with people to help them get grounded. So today we are grateful for the northbound train. I love it when these things pieced together. I just like to, I like to sew them together grateful for the northbound train. I’m grateful for the people that get off the train when they don’t want to be on it as well. Or the opportunity myself to get off the damn train. But I don’t want to go well. That’s a That’s awesome. By the way, that’s a whole other thing about the willingness to step off the train and when you should, and that and the art of doing that in whatever it happens to be in your life. Yeah, that’s a whole nother thing. So what is the show today? What are we doing? What are we talking about? What’s aside from the northbound train?

Brad Giles  05:36

Well, it’s kind of connected to the Nordstrom bound train a little bit, it’s Jim Collins stock list. Simple, really simple. But humans have a tendency to take things on, when there’s been studies that have been conducted. And when humans try to solve a problem, it’s intuitive to think about adding something and not taking something away, that goes against your intuition to think about solving a problem by subtracting or taking something right. People very, very, very rarely Think about that. So one of the things that Jim Collins talks about is the stop list. In other words, building a list of things that you need to stop doing rather than starting during and then building that as a part of your rhythms. Yeah, and when we’ve

Kevin Lawrence  06:28

done private sessions with him in his lab in Boulder, and I’ve shared on previous shows, we’ve taken 100, twice, 120 CEOs around the world to spend two days with them pre COVID, in his lab, you know, at the end of the day, often, or when I am when I’ve, when I’ve attended, he’ll at the end of the day, and when you’re talking about what you’re going to do, he gets people to note the stops, let’s say, okay, and you got to free up additional bandwidth with underutilized resources or time to allocate to these new ideas. And he gets people to write down a couple stops, and then a couple actions as just a tandem activity to help build that discipline of let go to start, stop to start. And it is hard, it is not natural. I remember, you know, there’s that show hoarders on TV in the US may not have seen it there. And it’s basically these people who keep accumulates. Now some people accumulate like cars in their farm yard. And some people like to collect spoons, and some people like to collect stamps, or coins, or photos or magazines or whatever it is, these hoarder people, it gets a little beyond that to the point where their houses are so stuffed with stuff. And it all ends up becoming messy in garbage and stuff that they just that he can’t it’s not safe. Yeah, nevermind, fire hazard. But you know, all kinds of other hazards. But you actually have can’t walk around the house because the house is so stuffed. So obviously, for most people, that’s not their existence. But in reality, conceptually, we all end up with a lot of stuff. And sometimes we’re very good at organizing it, so you can’t see it. And I have a friend who just moved recently. And they had an awesome, you know, smaller place on the lake where they were. And as he’s moving his stuff, he couldn’t believe how much stuff they had jammed to the small place. So I’ll kind of stop my share with a friend that I had years ago that she and her partner lived in a very Zen like space. And it was in the city. So it was smaller. But they had a rule in their house. One thing in one thing out, yeah. What like literally like any, anytime they brought something new and something had to go out. Yeah. And that’s the only way they could maintain that Zen like space. Yeah. And that’s kind of what we’re talking about here is is the discipline to get rid of things.

Brad Giles  08:56

Oh, it stopped things. It’s things and it’s things that you do. So yes, absolutely. So I think about one of the teams that I work with the CEO applied this, I’m gonna say probably six to 12 months ago, this kind of stopped this rigorously. It was around. It was around January, actually. And he did it. His ritual was at the beginning of the calendar year. he would figure this out, what am I going to stop doing? He was in YPO. And a fantastic organization that people who were in the YPO young presidents organization, they love and it gives them lifelong friendships. But he decided that was one of the things that he had to stop doing, which was an incredibly hard decision because these are some of the strongest bonds is that many people would do but he said it’s just it’s taking up too much of my time and it’s sacrificing my family and everything else and he said nothing. That’s it. That’s got to go. A very hard decision. But in the same way that you said, in the Marie Kondo type environment, the minimal living, if something’s going in, then something’s got to go out. Well, that was his. So it’s not just about things. It’s also about things you do. And it’s also about relationships you have.

Kevin Lawrence  10:24

And this is a spot that’s also hard for many people, is when it’s a, it could be a supplier that you don’t want to work with. It could be a team member you don’t want to work with it could be a friend you don’t want to spend time with and those are also very hard because we feel responsibility. I was talking with an entrepreneur recently, I’m trying to remember who was AB, it was a casual conversation. And you know, and we were talking about it and we were talking about is, you know why they couldn’t had a hard time letting go of some of these people. Well, they Well, these were they were there from the beginning. They believed in me when nobody else did. They’ve been part of it. How can I cut loose the person and yes, they’re an underperformer today. And yes, I know it’s not going to change. But these are my like my loyal people that gave me a start and supported me and worked with me. And how can I be heartless? Like that? Yeah, right. Or, or? Or it’s also stop inviting a certain friend to a party or saying no, but here’s the main thing in the world, and principally what I have learned myself in my own world, and i’m not always the best at it sometimes. But when you say all firm, no, and, and stop something like you could be stopping a relationship of behavior, clutter, or whatever you say, Stop saying no, you make space for something else. Yeah, literally, it’s like, when you stop, you eliminate all the cups in your cupboard. You make space to notice new amazing cups you would want. Right? or, or, or you clear space in your garden, you make space for ideas or ideas around a new one, or relationships or suppliers. Right? Like generally, something better always can show up. But there’s no damn space for it in the system. Yeah. So so it doesn’t.

Brad Giles  12:18

Yeah. And so what we’re saying is, it’s things that are burning resources or burning time. Yeah, that don’t provide an effective return on investment. If it’s

Kevin Lawrence  12:30

Yes. And by burning, there’s waste. And then also by burning, there’s friction, right? Like some of the process and relationship things can sometimes it can be friction or resources. And then the stuff you know, the things can be resources. So just, it’s, it’s, it’s not it’s inefficient in the system. And yeah, and so it was, Oh, it’s this is the thing, that’s really hard thing for people to do. Because as you said, up front, because no one we’re in the mindset of just adding to it. Yeah. And usually I go back and just as a simple thought I was. I was out on the weekend and had risotto, which is can be one of my favorite dishes. and nine times out of 10 it does. It’s not great. Like Yeah, wait, risotto is something special.

Brad Giles  13:22

It’s brighter. It’s bad. I find it you’re a sickly it is

Kevin Lawrence  13:25

Yeah, it’s great or it’s bad. And the one I had was in the bad category. And but it was interesting. I was sharing with a friend that I’ve got a buddy in Dubai at and he’s a massive, masterful cook, and his biggest Scott Ed makes the world’s best risotto ed has made and he gave me the recipe. He actually told me all the ingredients. We didn’t fake it and I made it twice. Once, it was almost as good as ads. And then once it was bad. So I but the point I’m making is, is that you know it’s simplifying things, and I remember cooking with Ed once and it was a pasta. He was three ingredients in the sauce three there’s only three things with olive oil, chili peppers, and one other thing. It was like the best paste tasting pasta I had my it was spectacular. Right But did get it down and reduced to just a few things require stops in most people when they make a pastor when I’m making pasta I like add a whole bunch of different things in Yeah, because it looks good. And we so by adding we often subtract, or by subtracting we add and that’s the idea is to find ways to remove stuff from the system to make things simpler or flow better.

Brad Giles  14:40

Yeah, yeah. You know, many, many plants actually can only thrive if they’ve been really heavily pruned. I don’t know if you’ve ever been past a rose garden but in rose gardens. The only way that they can get a great bloom in spring is you They cut them right back. So they really only like eight to 12 inches long, at the autumn, or in the winter when they do the heavy printing, so they cut them right back. And that’s what gives a really bountiful harvest of rose flowers the later that year. Now, look, metaphors aren’t everything. That’s a nice metaphor, but it’s kind of the same in your life, you could, what are the things that you are doing that you need to stop doing that aren’t either adding value or preventing you from bringing on something that is really high impact?

Kevin Lawrence  15:39

Yeah, and you’re just taking stuff that isn’t producing a high return. So you can reinvest it somewhere else, it’s like, if you were wasting 100 bucks a month on something that was of no value, you could invest that 100 bucks a month into something a high value, and overall, you’re gonna get a better return in the system. That’s it. So it’s not the principles easy. Yep, everyone’s gonna Yes, guys, I understand this. But how? How do you get human stop? Because it’s not our nature? How do we get humans to stop the stuff and take the time to think about the things that they should stop?

Brad Giles  16:13

Well, it’s habits, isn’t it? I mean, it’s, it’s about having a rhythm and a habit. So I mentioned earlier, I try to remind people to do this in January, at a minimum. So I kind of ask, When I’m with leadership teams, I’ll ask the question, what do we need to stop doing in our business? And we’ll run that as a facilitated session? Because there’s always things that have built up or those systems or processes or these things where we just have to question it. And this is different from another exercise I do about the brutal facts. This is simply like that, we can do a whole separate I think we have done a whole separate

Kevin Lawrence  17:01

we have that’s it is a separate conversation. It was so good, I forgot it.

Brad Giles  17:07

But yeah, what this is, is what do we need to stop doing? This is a very, very different and important question to have it in as a habit.

Kevin Lawrence  17:17

Yeah, and for example, we have our quarterly team meeting happening tomorrow. And you know, I’m, as we’re talking about this, I go, I don’t think it’s on the agenda. I think I might have forgot it. And I got a post it note right here that I’m gonna make sure we talk about individually. What are we going to stop doing? And as a team, what do we stop doing to free up resources? Because, again, we’re always adding new things, we could do this, we could do this. That’s our creative process. So the first thing is, you got to have a time to this to actually have the discussion as a team, what are you going to stop doing, and make individual commitments or group commitments. And then the second is we’ve already talked about is look at things that burn resources don’t provide a return, or they provide a weak return. Or, you know, they they they frustrate things a lot we’ve talked about. So number three half years, it should be rhythm, it should be every quarter every year. I love it. I don’t know if this is on our list here today, Brad. But one, one team we worked with is that every individual team, like the final five or six on the front lines, would make a list of their stop lists. And they put it up on the wall. And so that they could actually find remind themselves and then cross it off when it was absolutely stopped. Or they became an individual team working session. And that was their execution discipline, it’s on the wall. And then when you can, when you can fully say it stopped, you can cross it off and move on to your other ones.

Brad Giles  18:47

It’s such an A way to break through the bottlenecks, isn’t it? It’s I love that that’s a fantastic idea. Yeah,

Kevin Lawrence  18:54

it was great it and it worked because it’s visible because we forget to once we decide we need help remembering what needs to happen. So number four we have down here is ask a lot of people in your organization leaders and managers like get their opinions and i think it’s it’s it’s super important, which ties into number six, how you deal with it, but get people think it basically get them thinking about it, and then ideally, empower them to do something about it. You want to touch on number five there, Brian? Sure.

Brad Giles  19:29

What could it be? Well, I guess first of all, I want to just close off the previous point. So there is a difference between a start, stop keep and a stop list. They both kind of there are similar as we’re asking in a survey we’re asking a lot of people generally verbally through a start stop key which we start doing, what should we stop doing and what should we keep doing? Many of our audience Rumsey familiar with that. And that’s more of a stir. That’s more of a survey. Where we collect the data in a qualitative sense, but the stop list is often more of a brainstorming session, it’s more of a team working together, perhaps to figure that out. So for example, we could be saying we’re going to stop doing a part of a meeting, we could stop doing reports that don’t work, stopping a client, getting rid of a client stopping doing a service or a product, it could be anything in the company or anything in the personal. But if we go back to the kind of beginning, it’s what is burning resources or time. And we could therefore stop doing it to get somehow more time, more resources, or free up our resources to be able to work on more effective things.

Kevin Lawrence  20:51

Yeah, so this is more about a conversation and then making a decision about it. Versus gathering the information and getting, it’s getting people thinking about it, and going to do something. And there’s lots of examples. And the main thing is we got to keep chipping away at it, because they build up and people don’t even think about it. And so there’s kind of two versions, once you have your list of what you do. One is empower people to do it, ideally, at that team level, like we talked about, Hey, you know, as a team, you decide what you’re going to do, or as an individual and do it. And then there’s some stuff that’s kind of it’s kind of a it’s like, it’s above their pay grade, or it’s above their, you know, they don’t have the authority to do it. You know, we’re gonna, we’re gonna stop paying commissions to salespeople. Yeah, that’s not something, you just go ahead and decide, yeah, it could be an excellent idea could be a horrible idea. But that needs to get kind of put up on on the list of projects, the team would work on, right, they would go to the appropriate people to have a discussion, and to see if it’s viable or for make sense. And maybe there, maybe there is a you know, maybe we were changing something notable, like commissions, I’m making that up, but, or how bonuses are calculated, or, you know, big things and there’s Amelie, what he needs to be prioritizing the cross functional team would take care of it. The key idea is that doesn’t stop us from doing a lot of the little simple things that do burn a lot of resources. Those are, you know, we did some work with being the consulting firm on round Net Promoter Score. And they just call it inner loop and outer loop. inner loop is like, it’s all within your control, you and your team, go do it. Outer Loop involves other parts of the business. And you can’t decide without hesitation or working with others. I love that. And we just want to make sure that people don’t get bogged down on inner loops stuff they can do, and just like let them run while we go do the other things. Because otherwise, we’ll get slow and bureaucratic. We don’t want that.

Brad Giles  22:53

And so I guess then what we really get to is, is knowing that it’s not human nature, to say what are we going to stop? It’s human nature to think about problems. But then think, what can we add? What can we start? What can we do to solve that problem? instead? What we’re saying build a rhythm, pattern or habit into your life? Where you ask the question individually and with your team. What can you stop doing? What is the thing that you can stop doing? Around anything really, like just the open question? What should we stop doing? And in my experience, people come up with all sorts of different interesting and amazing ideas. Some of them good, some of them not so good. But it’s, it goes against their intuition, which is why we should do it.

Kevin Lawrence  23:52

Exactly, and why people need our help. So look, this is insanely simple, and it’s rarely done. That’s the idea of why we’re talking about it. It’s not rocket science, yet, people’s businesses get congested, and, and need help doing this stuff and weaving things out of the system. Because this allows things to flow better and like my friend Ed’s pasta dish, they have a lot of stuff is removed from the typical pasta dish, and it’s outstanding. It’s so darn simple. And that is not normal. I never ever would have made pasta that way. Never yet. That’s something learned from masterful Italian cooking. He knows based on how he was taught in his family, but normally there would be like seven other ingredients, and it would look good, but it’s just stopping things and elimination. So removing to simplify, right? There’s something I wrote down it was earlier on, I’m just gonna look at my notes. Well, that’s different that’s a different principle. But you know, basically simplifying it to make it better or removing things to make it better. Also, Good thinking for us.

Brad Giles  25:01

Very good. Um, so yeah, let’s think about let’s start thinking about what we can stop. That’s another way to put it. All right. So what a good chat that we had today. Yeah, this should be a rhythm. What are the things that don’t burn? I’m sorry? What are the things that are burning resources or time? How do you stop doing them? And how do you get your team involved in that? So with all of that, ask yourself the question, what can we stop doing? This has been the growth whispers. I’m Brad Giles. And you can find me at evolution partners.com.au You can find the video version on YouTube, obviously. And you can find Kevin at Lawrence and co.com. Thanks very much for listening. We would love to see you again next week on the growth whispers Have a great week.