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Leadership

Stopping Takes Courage

Today I was considering the news around Atlasssian waving the white flag on Stride & Hipchat via an IP acquisition from Slack and I was like, that’s some real courage right there.

I’m referring to: Atlassian exits business communications space, surrenders to Slack

For context, this was nothing about the platforms in question, frankly I’ve never used Stride or Hipchat but have heard pretty decent things about them. Ironically I’ve previously switched my teams to Slack, but that’s a total coincidence and pretty much irrelevant to this piece.

I’ve personally been a big fan of Atlasssian for quite some time, plucky Ozzie company once punching above their weight to now being a seriously quality heavyweight and doing that in some style. I think this latest decision speaks volumes of the leadership style within the organisation.

Stopping something can take the most courage.

Being a technology exec I am very familiar with the seeding of ideas, shaping of business cases, building of teams and leading the implementation of the products / platforms that they promise. In my experience to really succeed the team needs to believe in what they are building and why, care about their crafting and feel a real sense of pride in the outcomes. In this comes a real momentum and without a shadow of a doubt, coming to a dead stop at these speeds can have catastrophic consequences.

But in this case and for the bravery of Atlassian, catastrophic consequences hasn’t occurred, quite the contrary to a point where their share price soared close to 17% in after hours trading on the news. Too right it should. This is where companies like Atlassian get well deserved respect and increased confidence. They know when to change tack / pull the plug / refocus and do more of what they do well. They make the courageous, painful and hard calls because they are the right calls. They face into things like this.

But alas Atlasssian is in the minority in this space. We really don’t tend to see this kind of courageous leadership very often I’m afraid. Instead we tend to see companies wasting massive amounts of their shareholders money continuing to drink the company Kool-aid on failed strategies and doomed products, spanning years, sometimes decades… think Windows Mobile Phone. Chasing, chasing, chasing when the ultimate demise is pretty much already clear to most externals.

Stopping doing something that you’ve lobbied for, you’ve built teams for, you’re burned serious cash and / or political capital on can be the most courageous move you will ever make. On the outside it’s dollars and opportunity cost, on the inside it’s personal and professional pride, reputation, <INSERT LOADS OF OTHER SHIT HERE>.  The challenge and stakes of the decision often correlate to the courage required to making it.

In the case of canning Stride and Hipchat I’d say this is one hell of a courageous decision by Atlasssian. Given the current business communications platform landscape I would also say it’s the right one. More great stuff from Atlasssian.

Note: I originally posted this as stopping something can take the most courage on LinkedIn in August 2018 and slightly tweaked for this post.

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