Organizational Sacred Cows

Status Quo Bias
Knowledge Center

Forum

New Topic

Devayani Vyavaharkar
Student (University), India

Organizational Sacred Cows

The future effectiveness of organizations is contingent upon organizational change. Organizations need to bring about and adapt to external and internal change factors now and then or even continuously if they wish to keep their doors open.
There are many factors such as downsizing , new leadership, innovation, productivity concerns or new competitors that can urge organizations to change. According to Kriegel and Brandt (1996), the very first step to organizational change involves the sacred cow hunt.

Organizational Sacred Cow - Introduction

Organizational sacred cows refer to practices or behaviour patterns that have been in organizations for a long time. The term 'sacred' is subjective and different for every organization. A practice or a policy that is "sacred" for one might not be considered sacred for another organization. Sacred cows are used despite being ineffective in the longer run. Their continued use can reduce productivity, creativity and innovation, ultimately becoming costly to individuals and organizations. The term is an organizational metaphor. Sacred cows could be seen as a form of organizational status quo bias.

Transformation requires the organization to challenge everything, consider new facts, data and engage in innovative thinking. If the organization refrains from leaving past behaviour patterns and developing a future orientation, organizational change may become very challenging. It might no longer be necessary for organizations to avoid bumping into those sacred cows in the current times, which was once considered a top priority in the past. Hence, there is a need to engage in a sacred cow hunt as an organization-wide attempt to eliminate those practices that do not serve any useful purpose.

Three Types of Sacred Cows in Organizations

Kriegel and Brandt (1997) focused on 3 types of sacred cows commonly found in organizations:
  1. The Paper Cow refers to those forms and reports that constitute unnecessary paperwork and cost the organizations time, money and effort to prepare and distribute them regularly. To determine what types of paper-work constitute a paper cow, organizations should consider how it increases the productivity and efficiency of their employees. Another practice would be to review all forms and reports that are printed annually and to determine whether they are truly needed and, if yes, then whether they are needed in the paper format. For instance, in 2018, the Bank of America started making efforts to recycle their used papers and tried ways of eliminating paper cows by cutting back on every day in-house paper use, and thus reduced their paper consumption by 32 per cent. see also: Transition to a Paperless Office: Best Practices
  2. The Meeting Cow refers to the length and number of meetings that are held. Often the question arises on whether the extensive hours, energy and money that employees spent on planning, preparing and attending meetings is really necessary. Excessive meetings result in reduced productivity, information overload and increase inefficiency. To eliminate the meeting cow, companies can force individuals planning a meeting to consider the benefits of each meeting against its cost and necessity.
  3. The Speed Cow refers to unnecessary deadlines that employees are often forced to meet. Sometimes, it becomes a priority to complete given assignments within some particular, limited time. However, unnecessary deadlines cause employees to work faster, decrease the quality of their output, keep them from other - perhaps more important - work, and result in increased stress and strains. See also: Time Management
For organizations to implement change effectively, it is necessary to get rid of such organizational sacred cows. This can be accomplished by initiating organization-wide sacred cow hunts to eliminate them to ensure smooth functioning.
Apart from the 3 organizational sacred cows described above, several others hamper organizational progress in different ways.

⇒ Can you think of any other organizational sacred cows that you have come across? Do mention them in the comments below.

Sources
Aamodt, M. G. (2016). I/O applications workbook: Industrial/organizational psychology: an applied approach. (pp. 504-505) Cengage Learning
Kriegel R.J. and Brandt D. (1997), "Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers: Developing Change-Driving People and Organizations", Warner Books, Inc.
Challenging Sacred Cows that Inhibit Successful Transformation. Social, Agile, and Transformation. (2016, May 16)
Robbins, S. P. (1983). Organization theory: the structure and design of organizations. Prentice-Hall
. 27-5-2021

  Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands
 

Sacred Cows

What I like in particular about this term ("Sacred (...) 31-5-2021

  wicks were
Student (MBA), Kenya
 

Indispensable Cows

Given a chance I would add another type of sacred (...) 5-6-2021

  Sashi Rao
Management Consultant, India
 

A Further Sacred Cow!

Let me add one more, which I call the 5. Procedur (...) 6-6-2021

  Timothy Hamooya
Student (MBA), Zambia
 

Indispensable Cows

@Wicks were: Yes I agree some long term employees (...) 6-6-2021

  Chris
 

Shoot the Cow?

Maybe a new term 'Shoot the Cow' should be introdu (...) 6-6-2021

  Anonymous
 

En Español:La Vaca de Papel y la Vaca de la Reunion

La Vaca de Papel: no beneficia al patrocinador, mu (...) 7-6-2021

  Miguel Fernandes
Manager
 

Be Careful with Shooting the Cow!

The term "Shoot the cow" may be strongly rejected (...) 7-6-2021

  Zoltan Zentai
Director, Hungary
 

6. Personal Cows

A sacred cow could also be a person or several per (...) 7-6-2021

  Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands
 

Avoid the Term 'Shooting Cows'

I agree with Miguel Fernandes that there is always (...) 11-6-2021

  Vasant Pawar
Director, India
 

Loyal Cow: 'Loyalty' - the Credential of a Sacred Cow

For business owners, loyalty from employees is par (...) 11-6-2021

  Helen Strong
Business Consultant, South Africa
 

Renaming the Ones Who Cannot be Reached

@Wicks were: Perhaps, in line with the origin of ' (...) 11-6-2021

  Ekechi Festus
Management Consultant, Nigeria
 

Organisational Secret Cows

@Jaap de Jonge: Further to contributors' perspecti (...) 11-6-2021

  Santhosh Hegde
Consultant, India
 

Procedural Sacred Cow

@Sashi Rao: Yes I agree to this sacred cow - many (...) 11-6-2021

  Osman Abdel-Rahman
CEO, Ghana
 

Organizational Space Cow

Yes, and I will like to add "Space Cow." Some spac (...) 11-6-2021

  Srinivas Vedula
Business Consultant, India
 

Sacred Cows Why they Exist?

Before we comment on what procedure/process/review (...) 11-6-2021

  NYAMEKA MAKITSHI
Manager, South Africa
 

Sacred Cows' Influence to the Culture of Any Organisation

The culture of an organisation will remain no matt (...) 11-6-2021

  Guruvayurappan
CxO / Board, India
 

Sacred Cow - is Culture of the Organization & Needs to Address Carefully

Very interesting topic, the author has brought up (...) 11-6-2021

  Jan Leys
Senior executive, Belgium
 

7. External Stamp-of-Approval Cows

(Top) management seeking approval of external cons (...) 11-6-2021

  Javier Elenes
Business Consultant, Mexico
 

UpDating, ReEngineering Proçedures versus Shooting 'Proçedures Saçred Çows'

Do Not Shoot "Proçedural Saçred Çows", its better (...) 11-6-2021

  RW
Business Consultant
 

The Most Sacred is THE CASH COW

Retained profits not used for company growth. Inst (...) 12-6-2021

  Driscole
Management Consultant, Malaysia
 

Agree. Nicely Summarised

@Ekechi Festus: This I highly agree. I have seen t (...) 12-6-2021

  VENKATESWARAN
Teacher, India
 

Hybrid Cow

A good thought indeed.. Ordinary cow can be transf (...) 12-6-2021

  Helen Strong
Business Consultant, South Africa
 

Origin or Source Cows

Often one will find that organisations are relucta (...) 12-6-2021

Participate and leave a comment
Exchanging your ideas stimulates your personal and professional development. And you can help other people! Please motivate your point of view. You can still edit your comment for 3 hours.

Start a new forum topic

 

More on Status Quo Bias
Summary
Forum
Organizational Sacred Cows
Quotes on Status Quo Bias. Quotations
🔥WHAT IS STATUS QUO BIAS?
Special Interest Group

Are you interested in Status Quo Bias? Sign up for free

Notify your students

Copy this into your study materials:

and add a hyperlink to:

Link to this discussion

Copy this HTML code to your web site:

Status Quo Bias
Knowledge Center



About 12manage | Advertising | Link to us / Cite us | Privacy | Suggestions | Terms of Service
© 2021 12manage - The Executive Fast Track. V15.8 - Last updated: 13-6-2021. All names ™ of their owners.