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Sacred Cows Make The Best Burgers

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Leo Rigor

on 10 October 2013

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Transcript of Sacred Cows Make The Best Burgers

Sacred Cows Make The Best Burgers
What is a Sacred Cow?
The definition of a “Sacred Cow” as it relates to business is: An outmoded belief, assumption, practice, policy, system, or strategy, generally invisible that inhibits change and prevents responsiveness to new opportunities.

Herds of sacred cows graze on profits and can choke off productivity. They trample creative, innovative thinking. They inhibit quick response to change and cost money and time. Yet many organizations continue to worship the sacred cattle. They’re afraid to abandon what once made them successful plus the thought of change, whatever form the sacred cow takes, evokes an attitude of resistance and fear within the organization for a multitude of reasons.

Sacred cows are those who are afraid to abandon what once made them successful.
14 Different Sacred Cows
In the book of Robert Kriegel and David Brandt, 14 Sacred Cows were identifed.

They can have negative impact on an organization, and the reasons why some organizations fail in accomplishing change successfully.

Now, let's do cow hunting.
Developing Change-Driving Traits

Focus on your performance at work. Answer each question honestly. Circle the number that most accurately describes your beliefs and behaviors as they actually are, not as you would like them to be or think they should be.
The Paper Cow
Computer technology has given us instant and cheaper access to more and more information. So naturally that's what we think we want. But what do we get? More information than we need and certainly more than we read. We are suffocating in that avalanche of paper, much of which gets filed ... unread. Consider asking these three simple questions:

Does the paper provide value in terms of improving quality or service?
Does the paper improve productivity or cut costs?
Does anybody read the stupid thing and, more importantly, does anyone act on it?

If you don’t get a YES to any of these questions, you probably got a paper cow in your herd.

Meeting Cow
Marathon meetings and conferences are held to suit the conventional wisdom that meetings are meant to obtain concensus and the more information obtained, the better can one arrive at an agreement. Unfortunately, in the new economy, time is the currency and concensus takes forever. Trying to get everyone on board is a time consuming luxury.

Halve your meeting time and double your productivity.
The Speed Cow
These days we walk fast, talk fast, drive fast, think fast, even diet fast. Time is at a premium, and most of us are afflicted with hurry sickness. Yet despite the scrambling, we're always a little behind and forced to play an unrelenting game of catch-up. Speed kills quality, service and innovation. In sports, the rule holds that a passionate 90% effort is more effective than a panicked 110%. And a passionate 90% effort will yield 110% results.
The Expert Cow
It's generally assumed that experience is the foundation of wisdom and that experts who've seen and done it all have the special knowledge to lead a company into the future. That might be true in periods of stability, but when environment are in flux, experience can be a major obstacle to change and innovation.

If you use yesterday's solutions, strategies, and systems for today's problems you'll be out of business tomorrow. And that's what experts rely on: the past.

Think like a beginner, not an expert.
Be smart: Ask stupid questions.
The Cash Cow
In a fast changing environment, one can't rest on one's laurels. Things are moving so quickly that by the time a new product is introduced, its successor is generally being developed in someone's garage across town, across the country, or across the globe.

If a product or an idea has been out in the marketplace for a year, without changes, it's already outdated. If you don't think it's broke and you don't fix it, you soon won't have anything worth fixing and you will go broke.

The minute you're satisfied with where you are, you aren't there anymore.
The Competitive Cow
The problem with competing on a level playing field is that no one ever really gets the edge. You might get ahead for a minute or two, but that's only temporary. Like the cola wars between Coke and Pepsi, you'll be locked in a battle in which you can't gain a clear advantage. Ultimately the only thing you'll get from head-to-head competition is a headache.

The only way to take a real lead is to change the way you play the game. The level playing field is a sacred cow. To gain competitive advantage, we need to rethink the rules of the game and tilt the field in our direction. Don't play by someone else's rules. Make your own.
The Customer Cow
Satisfying the customer has been the hallmark of successful business throughout the ages. But in the new economy, sa
tisfying the customer is a sacred cow. Satisfying is simply the beginning of a relationship and not an end. Take customers to a new level by surprising and delighting them. Give them something they didn't expect.

So don't satisfy customers; everyone does that. Surprise them.
The Low Price Cow
Low price is still important, but these days consumers want and expect more than just "inexpensive."

Consumers look for price and value and service and quality and convenience. And you'd better give it to them or someone else will.
Reacting - even quickly - doesn't work. It's a sacred cow belief that quick response to change is possible. Experience shows that rapid responders are forced into a catch-up game. Even if they manage to pull even, the competition is already onto the next wave while they're left struggling to catch their breath. You can't react anymore; you've got to proact.

Good companies react quickly to change; great companies create the change. Move the wave; change before you have to.
The No-Mistakes Cow
Get it right the first time, no mistakes rules are a sacred cow ethic. This credo, while originally designed to improve work practices, products and services, fosters an atmosphere of extreme caution that makes people afraid to take risks or gamble on brilliant ideas. When people become too cautious, innovation, creativity and originality disappears and the possibility of gaining a competitive advantage is lost. Encourage experiments; failure is not a sin but failure to learn from failure is.

Don't penalize mistakes; reward good tries.
The biggest mistake: not learning from mistakes.
If you're not making mistakes you're not trying anything new.
The Downsizing Cow
Most companies are cutting the muscle - the people - and leaving the fat - the outdated processes. Not a very healthy diet. If you're going to cut, start by rounding up the sacred cows, not the cow hunters. Cut cows first. In other words, cut the fat, not the muscle.

Downsizing costs: morale, motivation, innovation.
The Technocow
For years companies have worshipped at the altar of new technology, believing in the techno-solution. Yet for all the billions that have been spent on technology in the last decade, a study revealed no corresponding increase in productivity. Wowed by all the bells and whistles, people forget about what really matters: the end use and the end user.

New technology has to be carefully chosen and set up in the right way. Without these safeguards, technology is just another sacred cow that will cost you
as much as it saves.

High-tech needs high-touch.

The Team Cow
Not every function requires a team. Team may
become a herd itself. It can stifle individual initiative because not everyone is suited to team play - some
are lone wolves or rugged individualists.

Throwing a group of people into a room doesn't
make them a team. Don't use teams for jobs that individuals can do better.

Build bridges between teams.
"The secret of my success isn't some fancy strategy.
I just work harder than anyone else." Great success strategy, if your idea of success is not to have a personal life and to burn out in five years.

It's the same story with the mind. Overwork your "mental muscles" and you'll lose your sharpness. You won't concentrate as well, and you'll make more errors. Your creativity will suffer, and you'll feel physically, mentally, and spiritually depleted.

Overwork doesn't work.

How Change Can Be Initiated
Round up sacred cows.

Challenge your well-worn beliefs, assumptions, and practices, and identify those who have
outlived their usefulness. Hint, “If it doesn’t add value to the customer, increase
productivity, or improve moral...it moos!”

Develop a change-ready environment.

Create an environment where people are more open to innovation and new ideas.

Turn resistance into readiness.

Coach yourself and others to recognize and overcome the four resistances to change.

Motivate people to change.

Get people excited about change and motivated to act.

Develop the seven personal change-ready traits.


Cultivate the personal characteristics needed to thrive in a changing environment.
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