Joe’s Journal: On Stinking Corpses

“There is nothing as difficult and as expensive, but also nothing as futile, as trying to keep a corpse from stinking.”

— Peter F. Drucker

When we take a look at various systems, products, and services, we can see that there are often some that have outlived their usefulness and need to be dropped. Oftentimes organizations develop people who care a lot about their products and services, so that when it comes time to abandon those things there is resistance. Peter Drucker thought this was especially true of government and as a result, government keeps going and going with projects and policies that should be abandoned. You see the same thing in other organizations too, where it usually takes a crisis for people to start rethinking things.

There are some organizations that go through a regular process of institutionalized evaluation and assessment to look at the proper way of doing an activity, and they are prepared to discover that the activity is not necessary or that there is a better way to perform it. Most organizations fail because they continue to do what they should stop doing. They pursue an activity that is fruitless. But, they cannot make way for anything new or innovative if they continuously hang on to the old. You cannot break the stranglehold of bureaucracy without a systematic process of abandonment. It’s hard work and it takes strong will, but it can be done.

–Joe Maciariello