Sacred Cows Make The Best Burgers – 28 Years Later

Sacred cows make the best burgers - 28 years later by Tony de Bree - 2

Sacred Cows Make The Best Burgers – 28 Years Later

In one of my all time favourite business classics, “Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers,” published in 1996, Kriegel and Brandt argued that many companies cling to outdated practices and policies, hindering their ability to adapt. These “sacred cows” – entrenched ways of doing business – become obstacles to innovation and growth.

The authors emphasized that ‘success in today’s fast-paced business environment requires a willingness to challenge the status quo and embrace change’. They proposed a framework for developing “change-ready” people and organizations:

  • ✔️ Identifying Sacred Cows: The first step involves recognizing outdated practices within the organization. These could be outdated strategy models, reference models, assumptions, skillsets, excessive paperwork, ineffective communication methods, or inflexible management styles.
  • ✔️ Employee Participation: Kriegel and Brandt recommend involving employees in the process of identifying and eliminating sacred cows in what is called collaborative change management. This fosters a sense of ownership and increases the likelihood of successful implementation of change.

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  • ✔️ Building a Culture of Change: To create a lasting cultural change in for instance a bureaucratic organization, ‘a large dinosaur organization’, companies need to apply the right change management approach given the fast changing online and offline business environment and the diagnosis of the internal problems, the internal organizational obstacles for integrated change in line with what is called situational change management.

By following these steps and shedding the burden of “sacred cows,” people an organizations as a whole could become more adaptable, efficient, and competitive in the eyes of their customers. The book offered practical strategies and emphasizes the importance of different people in driving successful change initiatives inside any organization with however a focus on large organizations.

Some of the ‘fads of the months’ as they call, mentioned are reenginering, total quality, virtual teams and ‘horizontal structures’.

Sacred Cows Make The Best Burgers – 28 Years Later

28 years later, not much has changed regarding developing change-ready people and developing change-ready organizations if you look at the discussions on LinkedIn and all the current fads regarding digital transformation, change management and leadership. Examples are leadership, virtual teams and hybrid and remote working:


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