Recently as I was reading “Death to all Sacred Cows”, I realized the answer to the questions above could be that some companies are suffering from the Sacred Cow Syndrome. The Dictionary defines sacred cows as “an individual, organization, institution, etc., considered to be exempt from criticism or questioning.” In the world of business, sacred cows manifest themselves in old ideas, technology, products or processes that are off limits to either getting rid of or changing. Sacred cows can survive by continually keeping things the same. One way that sacred cows continue to thrive in some companies is they have placed creative handcuffs on their employees. By preventing their employees from being creative or coming up with new ideas; therefore resulting in negativity toward these ideas or solutions brought forth by these employees. Employees fear being continually criticized so they not only stop bringing ideas forward they stop bringing questions to senior management. Questions are not only important for employees to gain knowledge but they also allow companies to make sure they are continuing to provide what their customers want and need. In the book “Death to all Sacred Cows” authors Fraser, Schwab and Bernstein highlight the important of questions, “If we don’t question why we do the things the way we do, we’ll never be able to do them better.”
Here are a few ways to ensure your company avoids the Sacred Cow Syndrome:
1. Maintain an open door policy where employees can bring any questions or concerns directly to management.
2. Create a reward system that motivates your employees to come up with new solutions or products.
3. Create a Sacred Cow Contest to help uncover any sacred cows that might be going unnoticed. Be creative and have fun with it.
4. Provide annual training to all employees that reinforces’ the company’s desire that all employees feel heard and new ideas are welcome.