Zombie Organizations: Quality Thinking and Follow Up for Success

The zombie organization is a zombie because it lacks the qualities of agility and quality thinking. A zombie organization has zombies, dead heroes, and zombie managers. The zombie organization exhibits both agile and dead hero qualities; in most zombie organizations, managers, consultants, technicians, surgeons or other employees experience issues such as missing data, unclear instructions, unclear assignments, faulty materials, or even absent colleagues. The zombie organization is a zombie because it lacks the qualities of agility and quality thinking. A zombie organization has zombies, dead heroes, and zombie managers. The zombie organization exhibits both agile and dead hero qualities; in most zombie organizations, managers, consultants, technicians, surgeons or other employees experience issues such as missing data, unclear instructions, unclear assignments, faulty materials, or even absent colleagues. The absence of critical thinking, decision making, and follow-up creates chaos within the organization.

In this article, I present some characteristics that all well-performing businesses have in common, and which are absolutely critical for organizations to achieve success.

Why all zombies lack leadership: Understanding the Root Causes of Zombie Leadership

All well-performing businesses have a high level of openness in succession planning, yet all zombies lack clear direction and ownership. All well-performing organizations emphasize leadership, yet all zombies lack clear leadership. All well-performing businesses have staff with appropriate skill sets, but all zombies lack appropriate skill sets or are led by people lacking character, vision, or motivation.

In all well-functioning organizations, leaders create the necessary policies, structures, and rules to achieve the desired results. In all well-functioning businesses, leaders hire and promote the appropriate personnel to carry out their responsibilities. In all well-functioning organizations, staff members possess adequate knowledge, skills, and cultures to do work as assigned. In all well-functioning organizations, there is a hierarchy of power, and everyone knows their place.

Most organizations exhibit characteristics of both dead heroes and living zombies. The living zombies are those who merely follow along because the leaders tell them to do so, while the dead heroes are those who actually go out and change the course of the organization to achieve change. In all well-functioning organizations, leaders create processes to achieve the goals of the organization, while staff members implement the necessary steps. The purpose of this article is to provide a short checklist for CEOs, CFOs, and business owners to evaluate their own companies. In addition, this checklist may be used to identify zombie organizations that need to be terminated, restructured, or repositioned to improve performance.

Organizations are made up of a mix of individuals, who are brought in to do a job but do not go through the required training to actually perform that job. An organization with no trained leaders is like a board with no directors. Organizational zombies are like un-trained cooks operating without a recipe; they just don’t get it, despite what the recipe contains. In contrast to zombie organizations, an organization where every member has undergone training and knows their role will be successful because everyone understands how each piece fits together and is able to work independently toward achieving the same goal at any given time.

Five Characteristics of Zombie Organizations

Zombie organizations have five characteristics that must be recognized and corrected, or the zombie organization will be destroyed. A zombie organization is hapless, disorganized, over time becomes disinterested and apathetic. It has no one to turn to for support or guidance. It is devoid of strategic planning and has no long-term goals. Fortunately, there are ways zombie organizations can avoid becoming a zombie business.

  1. Zombie organizations have no mind fit;
  2. The business is hapless;
  3. Disorganized;
  4. Over time becomes disinterested and apathetic. 

There are people in the organization that care about it but they cannot affect change by themselves; there needs to be a leader who will take charge of situations before they get out of hand or become worse than expected. There also has to be an atmosphere where employees feel free enough to express ideas for improving processes without fear of being criticized or reprimanded if their idea does not work as planned. This type of behavior can cause zombie businesses with good intentions from becoming zombie corporations because those involved lose hope when faced with this environment constantly while working at the company and eventually leave which increases turnover rates tremendously causing even more problems.

Zombie organizations have no strategic plan because nobody cares. These organizations have a heady mix of confusion, disorganization, and disinterest because nobody is running them. A clear strategic plan is extremely important if you want to run these zombies successfully. A disorganized, hapless, and apathetic leadership is usually the cause of zombie companies that are taken over by other firms. Zombie organizations have weak internal controls, little or no control over their external environment and usually lack a competitive edge over their competitors.

These five characteristics are all symptoms of a weak organization that is called a zombie. If you want to know how to manage them, you need to focus on these qualities and make your zombies very effective. If you try to manage zombies that have these characteristics and do not correct them, you will end up with an organization that is weak in all the aspects that a healthy organization should have. In fact, you may end up with a weak organization that cannot compete with its peers and cannot deliver even its own profits because it is so disorganized and weak.

Thomas Reynell

The zombie organization is a zombie because it lacks the qualities of agility and quality thinking. A zombie organization has zombies, dead heroes, and zombie managers. The zombie organization exhibits both agile and dead hero qualities; in most zombie organizations, managers, consultants, technicians, surgeons or other employees experience issues such as missing data, unclear instructions,…

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