"It is easier for companies to come up with new ideas than to let go of old ones." Peter Drucker.
These words reminded me of "The Rope", the tale of a mountaineer who set out to win the glory of being the first to climb a dangerous high peak completely on his own. After years of training he began his ascent and was doing extremely well, approaching the summit. Setting off in the early morning darkness for the final assault, he slipped and fell at a great speed into a very deep crevasse, where all around was totally dark. After what seemed like an age, with his life flashing before him, he finally felt the rope tighten around his waist and he jerked to a violent halt, to find himself dangling in mid-air. In the pitch dark he could see and feel nothing. In panic and desperation, he found himself screaming, "Help me God!" Then, to his amazement, he heard a quiet voice that said, "What do you want me to do?" He replied, "Save me God!" "Do you really think I can save you?" the voice asked. "Of course I believe you can!" the climber answered. "Then cut the rope tied to your waist."
After that there was silence, but the man just clung tighter to the rope. And that was how the rescue team eventually found his frozen body, firmly tied and gripping the rope, less than ten feet above the soft snow on the ground!
So, what is the connection? It's the need to "let go". With innovation being increasingly championed as the key competitive advantage, it is important not to forget Drucker's words. A business is like a cupboard: you cannot go on putting new stuff in until you take some of the old stuff out. Old ideas have to be let go, otherwise they drain resources and dilute the focus and energy that is essential for success.
Clinging to old ideas may be broadly included in the category of resistance to change, but it is not necessarily always identified, nor confined to the lower levels of the organisation. It may attach to historic products, original systems, comfortable processes, or any other of a wide range of factors that are taken for granted; and it may not be safe to assume that it will always be identified by continuous improvement initiatives.
So be sure to build Drucker's observation into your innovation strategy and consider what you might dispense with to make room for the new ideas. Do not sabotage success by hanging on to the old. Who knows, even your survival could depend on it.