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Owen Smith

Burberry Ltd

Service & Productivity Manager - Emerging Markets

Read more from Owen Smith

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Dead Horses


The tribal wisdom of the North Dakota Indians, passed down from generation to generation, says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

However, businesses often attempt a whole range of far more advanced strategies, such as to:

1.          Change riders.

2.          Buy a stronger whip.

3.          Do nothing: "This is the way we have always ridden dead horses".

4.          Visit other countries to see how they ride dead horses.

5.          Perform a productivity study to see if lighter riders improve the dead horse's performance.

6.          Hire a contractor to ride the dead horse.

7.          Harness several dead horses together to try to increase the speed.

8.          Provide additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse's performance.

9.          Appoint a committee to study the horse and assess how dead it actually is.

10.        Re-classify the dead horse as "living impaired".

11.        Develop a Strategic Plan for the management of dead horses.

12.        Rewrite the expected performance requirements for all horses.

13.        Modify existing standards to include dead horses.

14.        Declare that, as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overheads, and therefore contributes significantly more to the bottom line than many other horses.

15.        Promote the dead horse to a supervisory or senior management position.

16.        Do nothing in the hope that the dead horse recovers.

A big thank you to David Wike and his Random Ramblings newsletter for this post which I have shamelessly lifted word-for-word. You should also check out his blog 'Britain's Best Business Blog'. Happy riding!

One Response

  1. More

    The minute I read this a host of others popped into my head:


    Transfer the horse to the HR department where its talents might be better used.

    Allocate the dead horse a life coach in the hopes that this will address the problem.

     Get the dead horse to complete an MBTI questionnaire in order to get to the heart of the matter.

     Sack the dead horse and then rehire him on a daily rate at twice the cost to the business.

     Look into offering the horse early retirement on advantageous terms.

     Recognise that the word ‘dead’ is merely a cultural concept and a remnant of old school thinking and in the paradigm of Management 2.0 and ‘talent management’ death is actually the way forward.

     Try to determine if we are just not using the appropriate learning style with the dead horse.

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Owen Smith

Service & Productivity Manager - Emerging Markets

Read more from Owen Smith

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