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Sacred cows: How to herd ’em out

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in Centerpiece,Leaders & Managers,People Management

Sacred cows are roaming your hallways. They’re grazing on profits, productivity and patience.

To round them up and put them out to pasture, you need to be a constant cow hunter. And you need to get your entire team excited about tumbling those herds.

Tractor Supply stores issue cowbells to employees. A bell gets rung every time a sacred cow is identified, and employee hunters are cheered and toasted. Awards go out to the best cow of the month.

Merck Pharmaceutical’s 59 plants have monthly sacred-cow barbecues.

Williams Pipe Line company gives a free lunch—a hamburger—to the employee who identifies a sacred cow in his department. If your idea is “irresistabull,” leadership gives you a $10 gift certificate. And if it’s “udderly” wonderful, you get a $50 certificate. You also get an invite to a luncheon with the district managers.

At Williams Pipe Line company, the result has been a steady stream of ideas that have saved thousands of dollars and a morale boost.

“This kind of program is far superior to the suggestion box,” says Steven Ball, senior vice president. “You know what you get with a suggestion box? Cigarette butts and coffee cups.”

— Adapted from Sacred Cows Make the Best ­Burgers, Robert Kriegel and David Brandt.

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