4 Things Zombies Can Teach Us About Business

Zombies have always baffled me. How can anything that limited be so successful? And let’s face it, they are successful. They go viral in days and eat up market share at a rate that shames Apple. So I took a closer look at what they do and realized that, despite their awkward gait, success is not something they have stumbled upon. Like all successful organizations, there are some key things they are doing right.

First, they feed off the brains of others. Specifically, they find people who are more alive than they are and they go straight for their core processor. They do not mimic based on what they see from the outside, or think they can accomplish their goals with the brain matter they had when they started. They are constantly looking for new brains on which they can feed. Never content with their current supply, they  seek out those with better brains and do all they can to consume what they know, or to get them to join their team.

Zombies are also heavily invested in reproducing after their own kind. I’ve never seen a lone-wolf zombie who believed he could conquer humanity on his own. Almost as soon as they emerge, they create more of themselves. New zombies are just as capable as old zombies. You’d think it would be difficult for those first zombies to be confident that the new zombies will make the right decisions or handle things the way the old guard did. Not so. Once assimilated, new zombies are given the freedom to approach matters using their own strengths and unique perspectives.  While they follow the same basic strategy, they are allowed to learn and grow in their own way.

With so many people to hunt down and eat it can’t be easy for zombies to find the time to stop and make more zombies. After all, each new zombie was a potential meal. But for zombies to be effective they must occasionally sacrifice time and resources to ensure they will have the strength to meet their goals. They must continue to multiply their effectiveness by creating more zombies capable of handling things with little or no supervision. Recruiting and training always requires a sacrifice of time and resources, but strength comes from multiplying, not just consuming.

Another thing a successful zombie understands is the importance of keeping his brain intact. In this way we are not that different from zombies. If we are determined, we can function with all kinds of injuries, limitations, and set backs. But if our organization loses the ability to think and create, we drop like…well like a zombie who has been shot in the head. We must make every effort to hold onto the people who have proven their ability to innovate, streamline, improve operations, and reach new markets. These people are not expendable. They are the brains we must protect if we are to continue. Too much stress for not enough pay is not a zombie strategy. Effective zombies keep their brains healthy and safe.

Finally, zombies refuse to die. By all objective standards, zombies shouldn’t move at all. But they don’t see it that way. As long as there are brains to eat, there will be zombies pursuing them. Despite failure, pain, or loss of key limbs, as long as that brain bucket is intact, they just keep coming. This takes true grit. A determination that hard, even really hard, is acceptable. It is expected that our journey into the marketplace will not go unopposed.  We will be resisted by customers who do not yet trust us, competitors who would like to take the best part of our brains for themselves, and conditions that do not always favor our careful plans, but we must keep moving forward. Progress may be slower than we would like, but stopping? The only difference between a zombie and a corpse is that zombies move. Don’t ever think that the line between companies that thrive, and those that fail is any different. Did you take a shot to the heart? Shake it off and keep moving forward. That would never stop a zombie.

Zombies encourage me because, like me, they are not geniuses, and they are not effective on their own. But their hunger for learning, coupled with a commitment to recruit, train, protect their strengths, and an unparalleled level of true grit, makes them a force to be reckoned with. That’s a strategy any one of us can adopt if we can just remember, tough as things may seem, we are not dead as long as we are still moving.

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One Comment

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