By John Peterson
“An idea, custom or institution held to be above criticism.”
We business owners, often forget this important analogy that can help us to get serious about the ongoing evaluation of who we are, what we do, how we do it, and who we employ to do it for us.
Sacred Cow Syndrome has long been understood in corporate America as a term to help executives stop and evaluate their entire businesses more effectively. The term “Sacred Cow” alludes to something that has been beyond scrutiny in the past but may now need you to take a long hard look at it.
COMMON EXAMPLES OF SACRED COW SYNDROME
- Your Entire Business is slowly grinding to a halt
- Your Target Market is changing their behavior or wanting something new
- Your Products or Services are losing ground and yet you’re trying your best
- Customers are not returning as often as they used to
- Employees don’t seem to produce the same results they used to
YOUR ENTIRE BUSINESS IS SLOWLY GRINDING TO A HALT
As a big business example, a Sacred Cow once destroyed Kodak’s ability to achieve a first-mover advantage in the digital camera space, virtually costing the company its entire existence. Many other examples also no longer exist. These include the majority of milk bars, small hardware stores, and video rental stores, etc., whereby the industry simply vaporized over time due to changes in consumer behaviors and expectations or technology. It doesn’t just “happen” in small business sectors. For example, GE is now predominantly a finance company, which has nothing to do with its origin.
So depending on your industry and/or how technology or buyer behavior is transforming the nature of your industry, this may or may not be the case for you.
YOUR TARGET MARKET IS CHANGING THEIR BEHAVIOUR OR WANTING SOMETHING NEW
In small to medium businesses, Sacred Cow Syndrome can present itself in many forms. For example, you may be servicing a particular region or set of customers and, once properly analyzed, you discover that particular territory or series of customers is actually costing you money.
Sacred Cows can be incredibly dangerous and, potentially, very financially destructive or even fatal to your business because they’re easily overlooked. It’s just like an odd job that needs doing around the house, but it hasn’t been addressed for so long that you now overlook it every day. The difference with an odd job is that it’s not likely to send you broke but a Sacred Cow very well might
Sacred Cows can be incredibly dangerous and, potentially, very financially destructive or even fatal to your business because they’re easily overlooked. It’s just like an odd job that needs doing around the house but it hasn’t been addressed for so long that you now overlook it every day. The difference with an odd job is that it’s not likely to send you broke but a Sacred Cow very well might
YOUR EMPLOYEES DON’T SEEM TO PRODUCE THE SAME RESULTS THEY USED TO
Another example may be a particular employee who has been with you for a long time or has stayed with you through hard times in the past so your sense of loyalty to them is understandable. However, when you really stop and evaluate what they do for you, you realize their ROI (return on your investment) is not there anymore.