How to Shut Down Organizations

Cassie Robinson, Head of Digital Grant Making at the UK’s Big Lottery Fund, on the need to decommission in an intelligent and responsible way

Why It Matters

All innovations have a shelf life, but all too often we get attached to sustaining innovations that were successful in the past. Closing innovations, programs, or services in a thoughtful and compassionate way can boost organizational resilience, relevance, and empower teams.

Why is it important to be thoughtful about how we close things down?

Before we ask why it’s important, I think we first need to recognize that there is a need to do it. It feels like one of the missing pieces when we’re thinking systemically about change. Things like needing to end things, or to move out of the way for new things to appear, seems like the elephant in the room that no one wants to address.

What is the value in ending things?

It gives space to something new that may be more relevant or necessary and gives the opportunity to draw on wisdom, learning, and layers of experience that are wrapped up and are hard to share and know until there has been time to reflect.

Why has this been such a missing element in systemic change?

As a society, we don’t face up to death

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