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Richard Myers September 27, 2000 07:14 AM

I've Ridden This Dead Horse
Dakota tribal wisdom says that when you discover you are riding
a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. However, in
business we often try other strategies with dead horses,
including the following:

1. Buying a stronger whip.

2. Changing riders.

3. Saying things like "This is the way we always have ridden

this horse."

4. Appointing a committee to study the horse.

5. Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead


6. Increasing the standards to ride dead horses.

7. Appointing a tiger team to revive the dead horse.

8. Creating a training session to increase our riding ability.

9. Comparing the state of dead horses in today's environment.

10. Change the requirements declaring that "This horse is not


11. Hire contractors to ride the dead horse.

12. Harnessing several dead horses together for increased


13. Declaring that "No horse is too dead to beat."

14. Providing additional funding to increase the horse's


15. Do a CA Study to see if contractors can ride it cheaper.

16. Purchase a product to make dead horses run faster.

17. Declare the horse is "better, faster and cheaper" dead.

18. Form a quality circle to find uses for dead horses.

19. Revisit the performance requirements for horses.

20. Say this horse was procured with cost as an independent


21. Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position.

Mike Rodman September 27, 2000 11:46 AM

Giddy-up Go!!!!
Richard ~

I have seen each and every one of the points implemented over the last 13 years...

It simply amazes me what some companies and businesses will continue to do.

In 1998 I was Chairman of the Board for our Chamber of Commerce. We were instrumental in changing key Legislation affecting businesses in our State Capital of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Namely protecting the Coal Industry in the Powder River Basin area.

With all of our services and programs we were maintaining, our Chamber Exec. brought me a budget in the red to sign off on for the year.

She told me we would increase memberships thereby placing us into the black by the end of the year.

This wasn't going to work. No way in you-know-where was I placing my name on a deficit budget! So I told her to change the budget. She couldn't... Not with the current overhead we were running under.

So next Board Meeting, I get an associate to bring a Dues Increase motion to the table. (yes backroom policies are alive and well!!! ;-))

The raising of dues are argued feverently. Most against it.

So I raise the point... "We are all businessmen and as such we experience increases in our products which need to be passed onto the consumer. Why is this different???"

"You either raise your gross income... Or you lower your overhead. I don't care which. Do we cut back on programming or increase dues???"

Believe it or not... A committe was formed to "Study" the problem. After 7 months of "Study" it was determined to raise membership dues. But "How much???"

I wanted a 4% annual increase to keep up with increased costs of running and maintaining an office. Guess what???

Another "Committee" was formed to study this dilemma!

After three more months, almost the end of my term too, we finally voted...

Now get this... In the beginning I was the only one pushing for a dues increase or decrease in Programming. By the time it was studied and solutions brought forth, it was so watered down it was pitiful!

When the vote came... I voted against it!!! LOL from being the only one for it... To being the only one against it!!!

So now every year we need to spend money to "Survey" our members to see if they feel an increase is needed and how much!!! GEEZ!!!

Needless to say they were glad to get my radical, principle based butt out of there! LOL

If your not making money... Raise prices, lower your overhead, or get out.

I have examples for each of the points in your post. I'll save your post for future meetings!!! It will come in handy! I love it!!!

Success and Regards... Mike

Dien Rice September 27, 2000 11:50 AM

Heheh... Thanks Richard!

I have my share of dead horses.... I tend to stay on the horse, trying all the things you mention.... Giddyup dead horsey! So it was a good message for me.... :)

Though I tend to dismount eventually (I think) and start looking for another horse.... :)

I'm glad you took the time to write your message, it's a great piece of wisdom....

Thanks :)

- Dien

Richard's very live horse, galloping at speed!

Dien Rice September 27, 2000 02:46 PM

Time to form a committee to investigate mismanagement by committees...!
Thanks Mike....

Ah, committees.... I've been on my fair share of committees for various things....

What I know is that often, a lot of time gets wasted if it's not organized right...! There's nothing I dislike more than than a committee meeting that's supposed to last an hour, and drags on for 3 or 4 hours (which is not unheard of)....

May the dead horses.... Rest In Peace.

I'm glad you could tell us your experience, Mike!

Much appreciated, as always.... I'm a big fan of your posts.... :)


Bob Beckman September 27, 2000 03:05 PM

I live where "dead horses" were invented . . .
Washington D.C.! One of the reasons I stopped doing consulting for the government was that EVERYTHING goes thru committee and most people are paid to CREATE dead horses!

The rationale for those who continue making money on the practice is generally, "If I don't do it, someone else will."

Personally, at the end of my days, I want to see my life flash before me and at least smile and feel satisfied that I contributed to mankind's betterment in some small way, and not that I increased the "dead horse" graveyard:-)

BTW, this is not an indictment of government employees - many are fighting hard to overturn the dead horse obstacles, but it's a tough row to hoe.

Great post, Richard.


Bob Beckman September 27, 2000 03:15 PM

Re: Time to form a committee to investigate mismanagement by committees...!
I once was hired to facilitate a committee of association executive directors (the AIP and its member societies, Dien :-)) as they decided how to start transforming their publishing programs from paper to electronic formats (this was in the Dark Ages eight years ago). Then I was to develop a strategic action plan.

We spent three days at a great retreat center,and I often had to shout at them to talk one at a time - I even prevented a fist fight between two of these learned scholars!

The upshot was that a "plan" was too direct and action oriented, so we called it a "roadmap" and reconvened a year later to do it again!

But, the dinners and post meeting conversations were enjoyable, and it got me interested and up to speed on the then new field of electronic publishing. So bureaucracies can have a silver lining;-)


Jim Hargadon September 27, 2000 04:36 PM

Ha! I ate that horse
You need to form a WORKING GROUP

Who will report to the ACTION GROUP

Who will report to the TASK FORCE

Who were set up by the SUB COMMITTEE

To report to the COMMITTEE.

It's so simple and if you can't understand it you should COMMISSION a REPORT and set up a PRELIMINARY INTER-ORGANISATIONAL STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE to analytically explore the...

Cheryl Jack September 27, 2000 11:37 PM

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Committies
Once upon a time, I was an employee.

I worked hard, contributed to the growth of the organization and went home to bed.

Then one day, someone suggested me for a committee.

As a hard worker always going for the bottom line (efficiency), I found that the word 'committee' is an oxymoron if you add the word 'efficient' to it.

One day, after dealing with the FOLKS on the committee, I just had enough of their useless unending diatribes and resigned from being an employee.

To this day, I am SO pleased that I made that decision NEVER to be drafted for a committee again.

Today, when I need to make a decision, a committee of ONE gets the job done.





Bob Beckman September 27, 2000 11:50 PM

Ain't it the truth . . .
As a 12 year independent consultant, the one thing I notice in organizations (government, corporate or non-profit) is the time wasted on the job attending meetings - impromptu or scheduled.

Sure, it's fun to socialize with your co-workers, but it's rarely productive! As a 1-person company, I work when I work, then I play like [email protected] - every client meeting has a purpose and it's as succinct as possible. And, I'm definitely NOT a workaholic!

When I take retainer contracts and have to be onsite for a set time, I'm always amazed at the wasted time - and I'm not particularly efficient!

Anyway, I agree entirely with your post - God bless the independents, wherever they are! ;-)


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