Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Resurrecting the Dead Horse Theory

Sleeping (not dead!) horse image courtesy of Pixabay
I challenge you think about things differently in 2019.

What got us here won't get us there, right?

I recently came across The Tribal Wisdom of the Dakota Indians, a 1999 article in the Guardian, that I felt needed to be resurrected. I had never seen this before.

You can read the article by clicking the link above, but here it is in its entirety. I guarantee that you'll nod your head and chuckle embarrassingly as you read it!

As a preface, if you're unfamiliar with the "beating a dead horse" idiom, it means that it's a waste of time to continue doing something where the outcome is already decided.

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

But in modern business, because heavy investment factors are taken into consideration, other strategies are often tried with dead horses, including the following:
  1. Buying a stronger whip.
  2. Changing riders.
  3. Threatening the horse with termination.
  4. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
  5. Arranging to visit other sites or countries to see how they ride dead horses.
  6. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
  7. Reclassifying the dead horse as "living-impaired."
  8. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
  9. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.
  10. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse's performance.
  11. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's performance.
  12. Declaring that the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes more to the bottom line than some other horses.
  13. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.
  14. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.
Don't defend the dead horse (strategy, project, etc.). Don't keep doing things that aren't delivering results or making the desired impact. Don't go from one dead horse to another. Fix the things (people, processes, systems) that are broken. You know what they are. Stop talking about them. Make a decision and fix them. Make the change. Don't be afraid of change. Do the right thing.

Time to get a fresh horse.

Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go. – Herman Hesse


1 comment:

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