What Is A Sacred Cow In Business?

Definition of a sacred cow:

Sacret Cow \’kau\n, plural sacred cows

  1. A plodding, bovine mammal of numerous stomachs and dubious intelligence regarded in some climes as holy in origin and therefor immune from ordinary treatment
  2. Business: a. Outmoded beliefs, assumptions, practices, policies, reference models, systems or strategy models, generally invisible, that inhibits change and prevents responsiveness to new opportunities.

In the our fast changing online and offline business world, a sacred cow is a well-established idea, practice, referencemodel, a university or business school and actually any person that is considered beyond criticism or challenge.

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Sacred cows are ‘eating up’ your profits and are choking the creativity and productivity in your organization as a whole and of all individuaal managers, employees and HR-professionals.

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Here are key points about sacred cows in business:

  • They can be anything: A sacred cow could be a long-held belief about what customers want, a specific business policy, a certain way of doing things, or even a particular manager, employee, HR-professional, a university professor or management consultant of a large management consulting firm.
  • They hinder progress: Clinging to sacred cows can prevent any type of business (corporates, sartups, sacleups, SMEs, solopreneurs and side-hustlers) from adapting to change, exploring new ideas, or from pivoting businessmodels in the right way, with the right models and at the right time.
  • They’re not always bad: Sometimes, sacred cows are based on sound principles or past successes. The problem is when they become unquestioned dogma, even when external circumstances change for instance. Like in crises as the Covid-19 pandemic or since the beginning of the war in Ukraine.

For example, senior managers of large bureaucratic organizations might think that they are ‘in control’ and that they have the right skills to be a leader in artificial intelligence now and in the future. Because they go to all the large traditional conferences in their industry, they are hiring management consultants from the traditional large management consulting companies and they are getting all of the diploma’s and certificates of the reputable universities and business schools.

In one word: ‘the sacred cows’ in their business environment, their comfort zone online and offline. The question is: are they right in this fast changing an turbulent online and offline business environment? Or should they ‘pivot’ their business model and fast and find and eliminate all sacred cows in their own minds? To be able to survive and thrive in the AI-powered economy?

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