Now that I have your attention, the decay I am actually referring to is the 50 warning signs of corporate decay. Watch out for them in your organization. If you spot four or five, work on resolving them, now. Ten to fifteen? You are already in the quicksand. Revival is not too late, but whatever you do . . . remember, the steps you take must be transformational, not incremental. Sick companies are never turned around by doing more of the same, better.
So here is your 50 Shades of Corporate Decay ‘watch’ list:
1. Absentee leadership.
2. Lack of vision.
3. High employee turnover.
4. No matter the profit, sales are falling.
5. Mounting inventory.
6. Cash flow in decline.
7. Office doors, once open, are closed.
8. Loss of respect up, down and sideways.
9. Frenzied work environment, but nothing gets done.
10. Gossip has gone viral.
11. More silos emerging.
12. High stress and anxiety — at all levels.
13. Abundance of consultants.
14. Too many projects, too many priorities.
15. Autonomy is distant history.
16. Long payables. Chasing the receivables.
17. Hours of work are increasing.
18. ‘End of the month’ is long term. ‘End of the day’ is short term.
19. Too many meetings . . .
20. No one arrives on time.
21. Finger pointing.
22. Scapegoat firings.
23. Information sharing slows.
24. No more employee social events.
25. Mistrust of senior management.
26. Accountability is a moving, ill-defined target.
27. Stars leave.
28. Deadwood stays.
29. External focus (customers) gives way to navel-gazing.
30. Aspiration gives way to mediocrity.
31. Cliques form and rivalries increase.
32. Political animals rise in the corporate pecking order.
33. Pessimism becomes the common cultural thread.
34. Strategic and operational paralysis has become the norm.
35. Innovation is something other companies do.
36. Resumes are being up-dated and posted online.
37. Too many operational changes.
38. The latest strategic plan isn’t one.
39. Employee development is on the backburner.
40. Budgets are constantly cut and revised.
41. Minor perks are withdrawn.
42. There’s a rift within top management and everyone knows it.
43. New products are “me-to” brand line extensions.
44. Product discounting is chronic.
45. A pending sale of the company is daily coffee talk.
46. Marketing blames Sales. Sales blame Manufacturing.
47. Project deadlines are seldom met.
48. Spending authority is curtailed.
49. The ‘do more and more’ strategy trumps ‘doing less, better.’
50. People wonder if things can possibly get worse. They can, and they will.
This reminds me of a satirical cartoon that brought a broad smile to my face many years ago. Picture this: The CEO of the decaying company is addressing his management team. He points to window and says this about the competition. “Sure, they’ve got better products, a better sales force, and more efficient production. But, on the other hand, they still haven’t figured out how we stay in business!”
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