Sacred Cows

I honestly believe that a lot of companies would operate a lot better without people getting in the way. I’m joking of course, but I do think that people can create a lot of unnecessary problems. I honestly believe that ‘sacred cows’ hold back many organisations and that we’d all be a lot better off without them.

To be clear, I’m not referring to livestock, as ‘sacred cows’ are ideas or resources that are placed beyond scrutiny or criticism.

Imagine a scenario where a manager or director has brought in an external company to create a new website. They have fallen for the sales pitch, made the commitment and have probably been ‘wined and dined’ in the process as well. It’s probably then presented as ‘the next big thing’ with lots of fanfare.

The website then turns out to be incredibly bad, it lacks functionality, there are complaints from customers and the company that created it have no interest in communicating with staff or putting things right. 

This is the point where a ‘sacred cow’ is likely to be created.

Everyone will be full of compliments in front of the manager, and their colleagues, in fear of ‘rocking the boat’, but they will probably be complaining a lot in private. To make things worse, anyone who does raise issues will probably be the ones who are labelled as ‘complainers’.

In this situation, everyone is probably telling the manager how great they are, they are probably promoting themselves in the process and the people at the top aren't aware of any issues. The business suffers though as customers can’t get what they want and even if they don’t go elsewhere, they aren't having a great experience and probably won’t feel any loyalty to the company in future.

It could also restrict that company’s ability to grow and develop, and I can’t understand why any organisation would chose to lose a sale if it could be easily avoided.

The big question is who you blame in the situation, and I think the finger of blame can be pointed at everyone.

The people operating the system need to raise concerns, but make sure they are clear and constructive. The manager also needs to have some integrity in this situation and take ownership and those above him should be in touch with what’s happening.

This is all hypothetical but I’m sure we’ve seen something a bit like it. It really scares me when I think about how much time is wasted in organisations due to ‘sacred cows’ in all sorts of forms. We keep being encouraged to work harder and longer, but surely it makes more sense to work smarter?

I think we can all do our bit to tackle these sort of things in our lives by ensuring that we communicate effectively, that we’re honest and open and take responsibility for what we do.

I think a lot of ‘sacred cows’ appear because someone can’t really do their job and refuse to acknowledge it.

This should be an opportunity to grow and develop. It's also a good time to collaborate effectively as a team to solve problems.

Organisations can’t put everything up for a vote though, so it’s important to acknowledge that some things simply have to be done and there isn’t enough time to try to fix everything. As long as everyone is being honest and open though, this should be a decision that’s in the best interests of the company.

I honestly feel there’s a knock on effect to this was well. The better our company’s do, the better we do and it makes such a difference if we can feel great about our work.