Google has recently announced some Spring Cleaning initiatives and is scrapping the following projects: Google Knol, Google Search Timeline, Google Gear, Google Friend Connect, Google Bookmarks Lists and Google Wave.
Learning of the projects Google was "quitting" reminded me of what I learned from Seth Godin's The Dip. I'm sure all these projects that Google started were cool, exciting and fun at first...then they got harder and not so fun. Once things weren't fun anymore, they got even harder to push through and were no longer fun at all.
When things aren't fun anymore the thought of quitting is on your mind often. You consider the goals you set in the beginning of the project, your business, or your job and ask yourself, "Should I keep going or just scrap this altogether?" Of course you don't want to feel like a failure, but it might be time to cut your losses.
When is a good time to quit?
Seth defines the Dip as "a temporary setback that will get better if you keep pushing." But be careful, you're either facing a Dip or a Cul-de-Sac. A Cul-de-Sac is "a situation which will never get better, no matter how hard you try."
It's up to you to determine where you stand. Google realized it was in a Cul-de-Sac. Weight the pros and cons. Do the math.
Like Google did with these projects, if you're faced with a Cul-de-Sac you'll win by quitting and moving onto a dip that is worth pushing through. Certainly there are plenty of other things to do, especially for Google.
To conclude, what really sets the remarkable apart from the mediocre is their ability to escape dead ends quickly, while staying focused and motivated when it really matters. Google's story of spring cleaning should not be one of failure, but one of triumph over the Cul-de-Sac.
Paul Hill, Ph.D.
I design, plan, and evaluate economic development programs for Utah State University.
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