What Do You Do With A Dead Horse?

Posted: June 30, 2013 by Avi Ram in Innovation, Leadership, Marketing, People, Startup, Technology

aviramThe lessons of the new economy hold that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to get off and rapidly find a new mount. However, in traditional business, it is often difficult to let go of your investment in dead horses, which leads you to try other strategies to breach life into hopeless investments, such as:

  • Change riders
  • Buy a stronger whip
  • Harness several dead horses together for increased speed
  • Emulate the best practices of companies riding dead horses
  • Outsource the ridership of the horse
  • Affirm, “This is the way we have always ridden this horse.”
  • Change the requirements, declaring, “This horse is not dead.”
  • Perform a cost analysis to see if contractors can ride it cheaper.
  • Promote the dead horse to a management position.
  • Have the solicitors bring suit against the horse manufacturer.
  • Put out a news release that, in the unlikely event the horse is dead, it was dead before it ever came to the company.

A leader is one who does the right things, while a manager is one who does things right. In the new economy, leadership evolves to a new reconciliation of this polarity. It’s not enough to do the right things flawlessly; new economy CEOs must do it with conspicuous display of vision and character.

The new economy needs leaders who evangelize rather than encourage, empower rather than delegate. More volatile business conditions and advances in technology mean that we have to move decision-making and problem solving out of the corner office and distribute them throughout the organization.

New Economy Tasks

  1. Solve business process problems first
  2. Have a high tolerance for ambiguity and chaos
  3. Avoid incrementalism
  4. Be early
  5. Engage in counterintuitive thinking
  6. Communicate well
  7. Cultivate a culture of information sharing
  8. Exhibit principles of leadership

Traditional CEO

New Economy CEO

“Do as I say”

“Do as I do”

“Get out of my way”

“Get on my team”

Focused on strategy

Focused on execution

Constrained by money

Constrained by time





Gets to “yes”

Is able to say “no”

Concerned with the long term

Concerned with the short run

Has a preference for comfort

Insists on truth

Market driven

Customer Driven

Intolerant of ambiguity

Welcomes Ambiguity



Focused on retention                                        

Focused on recruitment


In memory of Gerry – a good friend who is sadly no longer with us

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