There is a saying among Plains Indians that was passed down from generation to generation: “When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount”. Recently, Mark Buckland and Wayne Lockhart wrote an article that discussed strategies that do not work. It’s humorous, but unfortunately, all too true.
Here are some examples of strategies that do not work when you discover you are riding a ‘dead horse’:
- Buying a stronger whip.
- Doing nothing: “This is the way we have always ridden dead horses”.
- Visiting other countries to see how they ride dead horses.
- Performing a productivity study to see if lighter riders improve the dead horse’s performance.
- Modifying existing standards to include dead horses.
- Harnessing several dead horses together in an attempt to increase their speed.
- Re-classifying the dead horse as “living-impaired”.
- Rewrite the expected performance requirements for all horses.
Of course a dead horse to the Plains Indians was one that could no longer perform to the ability required during a battle and was therefore running dead. They would simply dismount at an opportune time and a fresh horse would be delivered to them by a rider who had the sole responsibility of providing fresh horses to the warriors in the front line.
If only business strategy was that easy. It is amazing how much time, effort and energy business owners will put into trying to breathe life into ‘dead horses’, rather than committing their valuable resources to more productive pursuits. Most would be able to reflect on specific things that they have poured considerable time and money into, only to achieve poor results.
There needs to be an appreciation from business owners that sometimes the only means of achieving the desired result is to adopt new strategies. In a way, persevering with a poor strategy is like putting up with a car engine that is steadily going out of tune. It’s not until you have it serviced that you truly understand how bad things had been. Perhaps if car engines or business strategy were like horses, the path to non performance would be a lot faster and we would be ready to make the required changes.
Are you riding a ‘dead horse’? Are you investing time, energy and effort into a strategy that will not provide the necessary results? In our next post, we will introduce The 10 Ps of Business, which will help you determine if you are riding a ‘dead horse’.