Who Owns This Dead Horse?

If you have never seen a ‘Dead Horse’ list then you must neither have a job nor pay even the slightest bit of attention to how people get elected or what they do once in office. In short, your brain cannot hold anything longer than a tweet.

Here is one in memo format I stumbled across a long time ago.

Subject: What business does when it’s is caught riding a dead horse.

The tribal wisdom of the Lakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. In the world of the modern corporation and government, however, a whole range of far more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:

  1. Buying a stronger whip.
  2. Changing riders.
  3. Threatening the horse with termination.
  4. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
  5. Arranging to visit other countries to see how others ride dead horses.
  6. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
  7. Reclassifying the dead horse as “living impaired.”
  8. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
  9. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase the speed.
  10. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.
  11. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s performance.
  12. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead, and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.
  13. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.
  14. Promoting the dead horse to upper management so it can be with its own kind.

According to Free Republic some form of this even went around as some kind of email chain back in the day. The number of steps tends to change from iteration to iteration. Tony Cooke offers up 25 Ways to Ride a Dead Horse as it Applies to Modern Religion. Some have come up with versions to describe Illinois Bureaucracy. Spirited Horse even had a page claiming a copyright from 2006-2010 which kind of befuddled me unless they were somehow copyrighting the page and not its content. The Guardian published a slightly different list in 1999.

Eventually you get back to Dr. J. Marvin Brown, in his book ‘From the Outside In’ attributed it to Bernard Trink in a column called ‘Nite Owl’ published March 12, 1999 in the Bangkok Post. Please note the quote:

Lakota tribal wisdom says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. However, in business (and education and government) we often try other strategies with dead horses.

You will see countless rehashings of this mistakenly type Dakota instead of Lakota. You will find even more Web pages claiming there is only a pronunciation difference between those names. Well, if some buy in Bangkok bothered to type “Lakota,” a tribe for which we do not have a state named, you can do the same. You can also go read just a little bit.

 Word to the wise or those who wish to be wise. If you are going to rip something off, rip it off right!

South Dakota has been in the news quite a bit with the Dakota Access Pipeline protest. I understand that oil industry leaders have no more ethics than prominent Wall Street bankers but seriously? In a post-Flint world do you really think you can get away with endangering the sole drinking water supply of a population? I would imagine it is also a large source of fish in their diets as well. Especially now that Reuters found thousands of areas with poisoning rates higher than Flint.

 

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