Marije van den Berg - STOP.

A Stop Strategy for Organizations


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STOP. provides five clear steps with which you can stop successfully within your team or organization.

Stop beating dead horses, arrange a festive burial

Habit-driven meetings, suffocating bureaucracy, maniacal monitoring, endless reorganizations, hazy and endless projects, no organization seems to be able to escape them, the activities that don’t contribute to the goals but do take up a lot of energy and money. It doesn’t work, they make us burnout or become cynical. And still we keep them going.

We are beating a dead horse, against all instincts. Wouldn’t it be great if our organizations would be better in stopping things? That sometimes less is really more?

A five-step stopping strategy

In her book STOP., Stop Strategist Marije van den Berg provides:
• The five clear steps with which successful stopping can be achieved.
• The twelve mechanisms why stopping is so hard to do.
• Plenty real-life examples of good and bad stopping.
• The clever R.I.P. Model
• The big difference between removing or unlearning a practice.
• And why you have to keep an eye out for the little elephants.

Published in September 2020 | Paperback | 184 pages | ca. 45,000 words
English sample translation available
Shortlisted for Management Book of the Year
Dutch edition published by Thema Publishers

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Marije van den Berg is a Stop Strategist. She has worked in countless organizations as researcher and advisor and has witnessed much unnecessary misery. She can teach you the craft of stopping. Marije is a champion in making stopping fun, simple and appealing and she will help you overcome your convictions that stopping is in fact a way of losing.


‘A clear, cheerful and well-written book that will help a lot of people to make choices. The author has succeeded in keeping the book compact and to the point.’
Patrick Davidson, organizational advisor and co-author of the international bestseller Musk Mania

‘I wish I had thought of a book like STOP. about a heavily neglected practice in most organizations, stopping the activities that don’t work anymore. There wasn’t yet a management book on the responsible and definitive stopping with these activities in organizations. STOP. fills this void, and how! After reading this great book I felt the urge to stop a few pointless things myself.’
Martin van Staveren, advisor, lecturer and author of books on risk management

STOP. is a wonderful book filled with confronting and recognizable examples that understate the plea to stop with dragging and grueling activities. The book is written with flow and a firm dose understated humor.’
Nico de Jong, senior advisor with the Dutch ministry of Public Health, Wealth and Sports

STOP. is the kind of book that makes you wonder why it wasn’t written earlier. I could easily remember several situations with companies that made me wish they had pulled the plug much sooner. Much has been written about starting and executing policies, changes, procedures and projects, but not one book existed about successful stopping them. An ever-changing world requires you to be agile. And it requires an organization, division or team to be able to quit with the things that have become irrelevant.’
Sjors van Leeuwen, advisor and bestselling author of CRM in Practice, The Customer in the Driver’s Seat and Health Care Marketing in Practice

‘A valuable and accessible book about how hard and how essential it is to be able to stop the things that people in organizations are working on. It is a vital contribution to the change and learning theories of Chris Argyris, Ed Schein, Peter Senge and Otto Scharmer. In order to be able to change or add something, you always also need to subtract something else.’
Paul Misdorp, director at Change at New Thinking & Applying

‘Stopping is perhaps the most, most, most difficult thing to do. For people and certainly for organizations. Marije shows wonderfully how little talent we have for stopping and how hesitant we are in our attempts. She works in organizations, mostly in government, where the predictable is an important factor. That you can control and manage. And how uncertain is stopping, where you know what you have but don’t know what you will end up with. We are stuck in our habits and routines, we are attached to what we know and what we already can do and stopping those things creates a void where you hope that it fills with an improvement to what is already existing there. STOP. provides a strategy that makes you less anxious about this whole quitting. Marije highlights the beauty of stopping in a way that makes you seem crazy if you don’t start stopping with a lot of unnecessary actions.’
Leike van Oss and Jaap van ’t Hek, organizational advisors and coauthors of Underway, Irreversible and Powerless

‘A nice, specific, to the point, recognizable, useful and humorful book!’
Meta Knol, director at Museum De Lakenhal

‘I have been an advocate for a Chief Policy Stopping Officer, someone that hunts for opportunities to stop activities all year. Marije wrote a delicious and accessible guide book for that function, filled with practical tips to recognize the right time to stop things and really make it work. This is far from boring but a cool and enjoyable process, as this book will show. With lots of examples and some humor, Marije shows that stopping is a true science. In the end you will wonder why you haven’t discovered the benefits of stopping sooner. It truly gives you the urge to start stopping. Haphazard stopping is a thing of the past and believe me, that will save you a lot of money.’
Carole de Vree, head of communication for the City of Rotterdam

‘As children, we all learn that you don’t quit, that you finish what you started. Marije counters with the statement that stopping is valuable. A must-read for anyone that want to learn how to be successful at stopping and how to arrange a festive burial for dead horses. I want the whole world to read this book!’
Bianca den Outer, partner at JB Lorenz research bureau

‘I had to laugh out loud repeatedly with the funny and recognizable examples. Marije won me over with the closing statement that nobody knows how to do it, you included. An example of a very successful management book.’
Richard Engelfriet, columnist and author of How To Catch A Rat and The Success Illusion

‘Colleagues can tell you the things that are annoying them without hesitation. But if you want to change them, they counter with general remarks like ‘it would be fine if everybody did their job’. Let’s just quit with them!’
Dennis van der Graaf, concern controller

‘I am no longer surprised about how well people know what the things are that you can stop with immediately and how collective this knowledge is. What does surprise me is that they keep continue doing them, even if it is clearly complete nonsense. This book finally gave me answers on why that is and especially on how to break through the persisting with what doesn’t work. When we are able to stop honorably and collectively, it saves us so much in energy, time and talent that would have been wasted otherwise. I am not good in reading these type of books, I would rather read a story. But the optimistic tone of voice, the many clarifying examples, the specific tools and clear language gave me a vivid image of the matter. In fact, I think this book truly is the beginning of successful stopping.’
Marihuela Belt, organizational advisor and actor at Maranza! improvisational theater

‘This book is required reading for any civil servant. I will give it to everyone that starts a new function, job or project. We have to learn to become better at stopping!’
Senna Maatoug, policy economist at the Dutch Ministry of Finance

‘We emphasize what we want to learn in changes. And we should, but that is only half of the story. The more you want to renew, the more you have to push away existing routines to create space for something different. If you don’t, the new plans are unusable because they are at odds with habits, opinions, interests, et cetera. In short, beginning something new requires that you stop with something too. And stopping requires its own set of rules and actions, it is good to see that Marije focuses on this too.’
Hans Vermaak, organizational advisor and bestselling author of Enjoying The Tough Issues, Everybody Changes, How About Us? and coauthor of Learning How to Change

‘I always feel like I spoil the party when I ask the tough questions that jeopardize the project. Marije teaches me that I should not feel guilty about this. You can always stop a project, in fact, she advises us to do so. And she tells us how.’
Maike Klip, The Understanding Civil Servant blog

‘After reading this you are unable to stop just like that, on your own and in silence with something anymore.’
Janneke van Veldhuyzen, expert on complex health care

‘A wonderful book, because you can learn how to stop. It is not easy but Marije takes you by the hand by first unraveling the phenomenon, paint the very recognizable pitfalls and show how you can succeed in stopping. And without putting your world upside down or putting people aside.’
Marleen Damen, alderwoman

‘In our drive for more and better we forget the beauty of less. Stopping successfully is an ode to simplicity. If you are able to simplify the growing complexity of the world, you will be able to see the forest from the trees again. Stopping successfully will enlighten your path. Marije has delete all the unnecessary things from her book and the essence remains: stop it.’
Danielle Braun, corporate anthropologist, director of the Academy of Organizations Culture and author of the books Patterns and That's Crazy and coauthor of the bestselling books The Corporate Tribe and Building Tribes

‘Marije has written a great book on an unpopular theme, which is exactly why it is so important. While reading I reminisce about all the times that I refused to stop something, because I felt I couldn’t, how would they react? Now I realize I should have stopped then, because it would have saved so much time, energy and money. Continuing what you should have stopped simply costs too much. Thanks to this book I know that I will be able to see the possibility to stop something, that I will consider stopping and that I will even be doing it.’
Femke Hogema, owner Profit First Professionals, bestselling author and speaker

‘Ten years ago I was part of a hopeless project when someone asked, ‘Why don’t we just quit?’ I battled without justification to continue at the time, but now I wonder if the other person saw how hopeless the situation really was. And how he could have had convinced us of that fact.’
Ionica Smeets, mathematician, science journalist, columnist, television host and professor of Science Communication

‘It is tempting to blame bureaucracy for this collective inability, I like to do so and no one will argue. But it doesn’t get us anywhere is a justified observation after decennia of pointing fingers of blame in that direction.’
Jos van der Lans, cultural psychologist and journalist


Beginning With Stopping
1. Stop Signs
2. Not Stopping Or Bad Stopping
> The Why That Should Have Been a No
3. Why Stopping Is So Hard In Our Teams And Organizations

The Stop Strategy
The Five Steps Of The Stop Strategy
> Room For Not Knowing It Yet
1. Slow Down, time to look around you
> Stopping Is A Meaningful Connection With What Is There
2. Look Behind You, aim your focus on what gets left behind
3. Departure, the power of rituals
> Knowledge Can Assist In Navigating
4. Unlearning, getting stopped and staying stopped
5. Completion, stopping with stopping


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