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When to quit or keep going

“In the middle, everything looks like a failure.”

That’s Kanter’s Law, as stated by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, professor at Harvard Business School.

In every new venture, change project, or turnaround – no matter how high our hopes are at the beginning, or how much success we enjoy early on – there is almost always a sag in the middle.

Unforeseen headwinds arise, fatigue sets in, and critics get impatient.

Do you stay the course? Change direction? Or abandon it?

Kanter says there are 12 key questions that can help you decide whether to quit or keep going through the messy middle:

  1. Are the initial reasons for the effort still valid?
  2. Do the needs for this solution remain unmet?
  3. Would the situation get worse if this effort stopped?
  4. Is it more cost-effective to continue than to pay the costs of restarting?
  5. Is the vision attracting more supporters?
  6. Are leaders still enthusiastic, committed, and focused on the effort?
  7. Are resources available for continuing investment and adjustments?
  8. Is skepticism and resistance declining?
  9. Is the working team motivated to keep going?
  10. Have critical deadlines and key milestones been met?
  11. Are there signs of progress, in that some problems have been solved, new activities are underway, and trends are positive?
  12. Is there a concrete achievement — a successful demonstration, prototype, or proof of concept?

If the answers are mostly Yes, then don’t quit. Review, revise, refine and keep going. Tenacity is a necessity for achieving hard things.

If the answers are mostly No, then cut your losses and move on. Be persistent – not pig-headed.

Have a great week.

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