Over at the Harvard Business Review, Rosabeth Moss Kanter provides 12 Guidelines for Deciding When to Persist, and When to Quit:

That’s why persistence and perseverance are important for anyone leading a new venture, change project, or turnaround. But the miserable middle offers a choice point: Do you stick with the venture and make mid-course corrections, or do you abandon it? Do you support incumbents making progress even though the job is not yet finished, or do you abandon them for another group’s unproven promises?

Persist and pivot, and the effort could go on to success. Pull out in the messy middle, and by definition the effort is a failure. The issue is deciding which direction to take.

A question for today: when do you know it’s time to quit—a venture, a job, a new project? And when do you keep going?

Leave your comments below!

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2 Responses to Open Thread Wednesday: When To Keep On and When To Quit?

  1. Laura Gossman says:

    These 12 guidelines do offer a helpful roadmap in making those tough decisions of when to persevere or when to cut your losses and move on. I certainly answered “no” to most of them in one of my past middle-management positions that I held for 5 years. After reading this article, I had to ask myself though “what kept me there for 5 years if I was answering ‘no’ to most of these questions for the last 3 of the 5 years I held this position?” Since I was working in a Christian non-profit organization, there was a competing question and unspoken guideline that this article does not include. There was a sense that suffering through things, regardless of the answers to Kanter’s questions, was the “Christian” thing to do. In this setting the question was instead “Is God asking you to be faithful regardless of the circumstances?” and an underlying sense that it is perfectly Biblical to plant seeds and not always expect to see the fruit. What I realized, however, it is not always God-honoring to consider this question and mentality when the leaders above me admittedly could not find the will, resources or focus to stick to one vision and see it through. I know when to move on when it becomes increasingly difficult to follow through on an organization’s mission when the various mandates month to month keep changing and no one endeavor is given enough time, will or resources to even see if it’s possible.

  2. Ray Blunt says:

    Persistence may be one of the most overlooked leadership separators in the literature. It’s more reflected in the lessons of history than in leadership articles and journals which are now obsessed with change and with short term results in a rapidly changing world. Fair enough. But the deep issues we face–health care cost control, entitlement reform, the reform of the drift toward marriage as a self defining contract overseen by the state, what may and may not be included in the range of accepted and not accepted public utterances lest proselytizing be committed, etc. — these solutions take time and commitment by a few to widen the circle that ultimately resolves the great questions of the day. William Wilberforce took 40+ years to lead a team that ended slavery peacefully while Thomas Jefferson gave up after seventeen years and vowed never to raise the issue again. For lack of persistence on the great moral issue of the day, America lost over six hundred thousand men. So as to when to cut your losses and run? I wonder if these rules are wise. They are cost effective perhaps, but wise? Maybe not. What kep Wilberforce going? Faith, commitment, and a community of supporters and colleagues plus one incredible, unbending mentor–John Newton, former slave ship captain, pastor, and mentor to his young protege and Member of Parliament. I take the sense of the inestimable RMK, but would ask how one would know when to persist might just allow the unforeseen breakthrough that serves a generation.