Farrar's Faucet: A psychologist’s candid, productive and often humorous take on principled business behavior and better business outcomes.

The dead horses of strategy

Sometimes as a consultant I find myself called in to help clients who can best be described as caught in the act of flogging a dead horse. When that happens you don't need a consultant. You need a new horse. (Of course, a good consultant can find you a new horse or a better form of transport. That's another story.)

In case you're not open to that, here's a time honored list of consultants' favorite alternatives:
  • Buy a stronger whip.
  • Change riders.
  • Say things like "This is the way we always have ridden this horse."
  • Appoint a committee to study the horse.
  • Arrange to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.
  • Rewrite the standards for dead horse performance: "Stability is good."
  • Appoint a dead horse revival team.
  • Hope for spontaneous horse revival.
  • Create a training session on riding dead horses.
  • Compare the state of dead horses in today's environment.
  • Change the requirements declaring that "This horse is not dead."
  • Hire contractors, (or consultants), to ride the dead horse for you.
  • Harness several dead horses together to increase speed and pulling power.
  • Declare that "No horse is too dead to beat."
  • Provide additional incentive funding to increase the horse's performance.
  • Purchase a software product to make dead horses run faster.
  • Declare the horse is "better, faster and cheaper" dead.
  • Form a quality circle to find uses for dead horses.
  • Say this horse was procured with cost and performance as independent variables.
  • Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position.
  • Shorten the track.
  • Establish industry benchmarks for dead-horse leaders.
  • Gather other dead animals and announce a diversity program.
  • Put together a PowerPoint presentation to get planners to double the dead-horse R&D budget.
  • Create a spreadsheet and graphs showing how much cheaper deadhorses are because they don't eat much and never complain about poor working conditions.
  • Get the horse a website.

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