I love idioms. Idioms are words that have a figurative meaning beyond their literal meaning. Idioms are terrible traps for people trying to learn the language, because their real meaning cannot be found in the words you are reading.
One of my favorite English idioms is sacred cows.
According to the Wikipedia entry on sacred cows–yes, there is a Wikipedia entry for EVERYTHING– “a figurative sacred cow is something else that is considered immune from question or criticism, especially unreasonably so.”
Here’s a great test of your organization’s primary change program: Can you poke fun at it in public without repercussions?
If you can, great. That means your program is strong enough to last, adapt, and last some more.
If you can’t, watch out. You’ve discovered a sacred cow of your organization and you must both tread lightly and look for an exit strategy.
It is a sign of organizational decay when the number of sacred cows keeps increasing.
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of all the mooing going on in our organizations, our governments, and our communities.
(And that’s saying a lot because I’m originally from Wisconsin so I was raised to tolerate a high level of mooing.)
Maybe if we all just poke at the cows a little we can strip away some of that sacred coating and start to repair our organizations.
I’m going to try. Who’s with me?