icon-email icon-facebook icon-linkedin icon-print icon-rss icon-search icon-stumbleupon icon-twitter icon-arrow-right icon-email icon-facebook icon-linkedin icon-print icon-rss icon-search icon-stumbleupon icon-twitter icon-arrow-right icon-user Skip to content
Senior Correspondent

50 Shades of Decay

50 Shades of Decay


Now that I have your attention, the decay I'm referring to is corporate decay.

There are warning signs you should watch out for in your organization. If you spot a four or five things on this list, work on resolving them now. Ten or 15 mean that you are already in quicksand. Revival is not too late, but whatever you do, remember the steps you take must be transformational, not incremental. Sick companies are never turned around by doing more of the same, better.

So here is your 50 Shades of Corporate Decay watch list:

  1. Absentee leadership
  2. Lack of vision
  3. High employee turnover
  4. No matter the profit, sales are falling
  5. Mounting inventory
  6. Cash flow in decline
  7. Office doors once open are closed
  8. Loss of respect up, down and sideways
  9. Frenzied work environment, but nothing gets done
  10. Gossip has gone viral
  11. More silos emerging
  12. High stress and anxiety — at all levels
  13. Abundance of consultants
  14. Too many projects, too many priorities
  15. Autonomy is distant history
  16. Long payables, chasing the receivables
  17. Hours of work are increasing
  18. "End of the month’" is long term. "End of the day" is short term
  19. Too many meetings
  20. No one arrives on time
  21. Finger pointing
  22. Scapegoat firings
  23. Information sharing slows
  24. No more employee social events
  25. Mistrust of senior management
  26. Accountability is a moving, ill-defined target
  27. Stars leave
  28. Deadwood stays
  29. External focus (customers) gives way to navel-gazing
  30. Aspiration gives way to mediocrity
  31. Cliques form and rivalries increase
  32. Political animals rise in the corporate pecking order
  33. Pessimism becomes the common cultural thread
  34. Strategic and operational paralysis has become the norm
  35. Innovation is something other companies do
  36. Resumes are being updated and posted online
  37. Too many operational changes
  38. The latest strategic plan isn’t one
  39. Employee development is on the back  burner
  40. Budgets are constantly cut and revised
  41. Minor perks are withdrawn
  42. There’s a rift within top management and everyone knows it
  43. New products are “me-too” brand line extensions
  44. Product discounting is chronic
  45. A pending sale of the company is daily coffee talk
  46. Marketing blames sales. Sales blame manufacturing
  47. Project deadlines are seldom met
  48. Spending authority is curtailed
  49. The "do more and more" strategy trumps "doing less, better"
  50. People wonder if things can possibly get worse. Then can, and they will.

This reminds me of a satirical cartoon that brought a broad smile to my face many years ago. Picture this: the CEO of the decaying company is addressing his management team. He points to window and says about the competition, “Sure, they’ve got better products, a better sales force and more efficient production. But, on the other hand, they still haven’t figured out how we stay in business!”

Stay Up to Date

Sign up for articles by John Bell and other Senior Correspondents.

Latest Stories

Choosing Senior Living
Love Old Journalists

Our Mission

To amplify the voices of older adults for the good of society

Learn More