Strategies for Riding a Dead Horse

Pegsus Company convened a meeting of their top brass.  “Folks,” the CEO began, “We have just discovered we have been riding a dead horse!  This emergency meeting of the executive team is convened to find a solution to this situation.  Each department is to study the problem and then come up with solutions in a week at the dead horse retreat.”

A week later the crack executive team met to discuss the situation.  The first team member to share ideas was VP of Human Resources.  Her first solution was to try changing riders on the dead horse.  Perhaps a rider that was more suited and had more experience with dead horse riding could get better results.  Another method for better results is a complete review of the performance requirements for horses of all types.  Perhaps if the live horses would not be expected to do so much, it would not make the dead horses feel any sort of discrimination. 

The Marketing Chief was next to offer her ideas.  This suggestion was to purchase a stronger whip and tout the strong whip on a massive advertising campaign that involves print, television, and social media.   A Tweet Army of dead horse fans would spend time telling the benefits of the dead horse to the community, and a website designer would create a stellar presentation on dead horses that would create Internet magic with the goal of thousands of “likes”.

The Chief Operating Officer struggled with the assignment since he believed that, “This is the way we’ve always ridden the horse, so what is the problem?”  But he assembled his team and came up with the idea to harness several dead horses together for increased speed.  If that does not work, then promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position would surely fix the problem.

The CEO had his doubts on adding additional deceased equines to the one for efficiency and believed that changing the requirements for dead horses by HR may have problems with actually coming to some sort of consensus on dead horse standards.  He then turned to the Dead Horse Consulting Group. 

DHCG was ready to arrange a committee to study dead horses.  The crack team of consultants had already spent time visiting other companies to study how they successfully rode dead horses.  They also had a quality circle of others in the industry to discuss uses for dead horses.  Any of these studies would take a considerable amount of time and money, but it would yield impressive PowerPoints and bound reports that would create a sense of “DHCG Wow” to the eyes of the reader.

The CFO was concerned with the costs of consultants and had not seen good results in spending money on outsiders in the past.  He suggested a better and more efficient use of funds would be to just increase funding for the dead horse to improve its performance.  This would result in a pay raise for the dead horse, the dead horse rider, and also more money for the department to allow for better performance.  The idea of buying a stronger whip also was valuable to the CFO. 

Legal had sat patiently and listened to all of the discussion.  The attorney stood to his feet and passionately stated that all which was required was to state “no horse is too dead to ride.”  This would result in a change to the by-laws, specifying that “horses shall not die”.  Using these two simple legal strategies would correct the problem. 

The head of facilities suggested that a new facility around the dead horse would change the results of the horse and rider.  If more dead horses were found, new and better facilities would be needed to change the results.  Perhaps even a monument would be in order.

It is a scary thing when a sacred cow of your organization turns into a dead horse.  We recently had that experience at Pactola.  We had a file sharing system for our participation files that was often confusing to the end user and took a lot of our staff time.  As the one who selected the original file sharing system to begin with, it was tempting as a leader to attempt to make the original system work, causing frustration on the part of the loan participant and also, a time drain on our team. 

So I went out and found a software engineer who could write a program that would meet our needs.  This week marks the launch of this program, our own “PacPortal”.  Equity members of Pactola and loan participants can go into our website, log in and see their loan files. We moved on, and buried the "dead horse". 

We have a tendency to stay with the normal, the usual, the status quo, and often fail to assess if what we have before us is really a benefit to our group or if it is a dead horse in our business.  Though the examples with Pegsus above seem absurd, each of us who has been in the workforce long enough, can cite examples that line up perfectly with the Pegsus leadership team. 

Facing a dead horse in your life or organization can be scary.  It is tempting to keep on the same path since that is what is comfortable.  But the correct method to approach this is found in the words of Abraham Lincoln.  “When you find you are riding a dead horse, dismount!”