Dear Esteemed Colleagues

Perhaps you are not running a small (or large) business selling products and services; but you are undoubtedly offering some range of services or skills in terms of your job (e.g. electrical or mechanical engineer or technician working in a mine or in a power plant).

The Killing Ground
We all have heard of large companies ‘canning’ or killing off products and services which they believe have become unprofitable. You only need to think of the slew of magazines (and newspapers) which have disappeared from the corporate landscape. I am also sure you can  clearly recall some engineering product (PLC, instrument, power supply, pump….) which the manufacturer has decided to cull and no longer offers. Often (as we all know); they kill off a product or service which they then hastily re-introduce due to the market backlash.

Decisions such as this are never easy. However, they are an inevitable part of life and business. And your engineering career.

Product or Service or Indeed, Part of your Engineering Career
No matter how hard you have worked on a particular product or service, there will inevitably come a time when you have to get rid of it. This may also apply to the range of services or skills you offer in your engineering career. Sometimes; a skill or competency that you offer becomes more hassle than it is worth (perhaps due to lack of demand from employers, competition from others or overwhelming government regulation and red tape). We have all heard the comment that one has quoted for a job at a reasonable rate but then ended up working for a few dollars per hour due to the subsequent unreasonable demands made by the employer or client.

How to Decide on When to Kill
A few suggestions on culling your product/service or marketable career skill.

1. Apply the 80/20 Rule
List your product and services (and career skills) and work out which product and services generate 80% of your income. You will in all likelihood find that 20% of your products or services generate 80% of your profits (or personal income). Paradoxically enough, 80% of your products/services may generate only 20% of your profits. Examine these ones and decide on which ones to cull.

2. Avoid Emotional Attachments
Avoid the emotional connection to a product or service (or indeed a career skill); if it is not paying its way. We always have a love for our first born (product, skill or service). But it has to stack up in the cold hard business world.

3. Look with New Eyes or a Fresh Perspective
You may need to get an unbiased colleague to look at what you offer from a fresh perspective in a clinical way in terms of what is performing and what isn’t. Often new owners of a company; simply look unemotionally at each product or service and then terminate them forthwith. Similarly, a new boss may look at what you were doing in terms of your skills and abilities and alter your job to maximise your effectiveness.

Thanks to the Sydney Morning Herald April 4, 2013 for an interesting read.

Note what Friedrich Nietzsche remarks:  What does not kill me, makes me stronger.

Yours in Engineering Learning


The Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) is dedicated to ensuring our students receive a world-class education and gain skills they can immediately implement in the workplace upon graduation. Our staff members uphold our ethos of honesty and integrity, and we stand by our word because it is our bond. Our students are also expected to carry this attitude throughout their time at our institute, and into their careers.