Getting rid of sacred cows

The bane of most businesses. It can, and is in many cases especially in security, is a huge problem. Many businesses still rely upon them to conduct business. If you can’t get rid of them you’ll never get out of your own way to be as successful as you could be.

Sacred cows, if you don’t know, are those things that every business states that they absolutely can’t do without to conduct business. “We’ve always done it that way and it works”. Never mind that it works against the customer and not for them. Or the all too famous “If we do that, then someone might get into trouble!”

The sacred cow mentality is so prevalent because many companies don’t trust their employees to make a sound decision without giving away too much. I agree that trusting an employee to make a decision is a bold and stunning idea for some businesses. The uneducated underlings weren’t competent enough to make decisions.

Nothing in the business world is ever 100% guaranteed to be successful. But if you are too scared to take the risk and get rid of those sacred cows then you never will be successful. And this also means that you can’t necessarily follow what others have done or even your industry association or organization. What works for one may not work for you.  You must be prepared to plow your own field.

                                It’s only stupid and a waste of money if it doesn’t work!


           Those are sacred cows as well when we get locked in to following nothing but best practices, guidelines, and rules that simply won’t, or don’t, work for your region of the city or country. Despite what they may say you have to be willing to tweak those and make them your own with your own philosophy.

Clients, co-workers, & managers refused to change anything in their way of thinking because they ideas were the sacred cows of the organization and their industry. Therefore not open for discussion or change. As a manager I learned what worked in New York City doesn’t work in Mission Kansas.

When I worked for a large nationally known security company in the mid-90s, our policy & procedures manual was thick. 700 pages comprising 2 3 ring binders. Unfortunately, many of those policies were 15-20 years old and heavily blacked out and marked through as well as written revisions. And when asked why they weren’t updated or tossed out? The answer I received shocked me. My branch manager answered me like this “Because we haven’t been told to. And besides they still work and apply, why re-write them?”

As a manager or employee that utilizes such sacred cows how do you change the culture to get rid of them and change the operations to make it customer friendly? You have to start with analyzing every single detailed aspect of your operation. And I do mean absolutely everything.

Is there anything in your processes that you can do without, combine, revise, or replace with something better? It doesn’t really matter whether it saves you time or money not doing it. What does matter is the customer you’re trying to serve, whoever they may be.

Look at your policy and procedures manual. Anything that hasn’t been updated for at least 5 years needs to be looked at and analyzed and more than likely re-written for a new generation of employees, managers, and customers.

What everyone within the company needs to do is change the way they look at things. Just because it didn’t work 2 years ago, doesn’t mean it won’t work now. The world changes fast and we have to change with it or fail. That means tweak your ideas and start over at another time.

So the conclusion of this is simple, Throw out the CW. Toss those old tired ideas out the window into the dumpster. Try something new and exciting. The worse that can happen is that you fail. So what if you fail, it’s something we all do once in a while. And if you fail spectacularly think of it as getting rid of yet another sacred cow and giving the company something to think about.

Start thinking of innovation, creativity, and get yourself out-of-the-box to solve problems. Yes there will be complaining, moaning, and groaning about changing this and that. But for those who want things to remain status quo… of progress, not to mention giving up many of the things they have been doing for years.

But the price of improving your service and reaching out to everyone you serve, is to continually improve your processes. And getting rid of your sacred cows is one of the best places to start. Don’t just think of a good idea, run it through with your own analysis to see if it it’ll work! Don’t over analyze, but give it a read through. If it’s feasible then do it, especially if it’s out of-the-box, innovative, or creative.

               “Those who are scared to go too far don’t know how far they can go”

                                                                TS Elliot

(This is an excerpt from my book Customer Oriented Quality Service: The COQS Method, It is due out spring 2017) or Twitter: robertsollars2.

                                                   I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

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