Blessed subtraction

Blessed subtraction - two businessmen shaking hands

Years ago, I heard a leader of an organization refer to the some of the organizational changes in his company as blessed subtraction. I admit, this was an odd way to refer to people who had moved on from the company.

While it’s a strange phrase to explain change in the team, the truth is it has some depth to its meaning. Many times in an organization we are reluctant, even fearful, of making changes in the team because we believe it will negatively impact and disrupt the work at hand. This is a common issue and mistake many of us have made in our careers.

What we also know is when we’ve had the courage to make the change needed, we’ve experienced new life in the organization and often a sense of relief. It’s not necessarily that the person was negative or wrong, which is sometimes the case – it can also be they weren’t the right fit for the team.

Blessed subtraction isn’t about being spiteful, vindictive or negative – it’s about courage to do what’s best for the organization and the people in it and that sometimes means taking a necessary step in order to shape the best possible outcome for everyone involved.


Our motivation in changing team members should come from optimizing and improving the organization AND helping others move on as best as possible