I was first introduced to the zombie apocalypse concept way back in 1997 when my parents made the somewhat questionable decision of buying their 10 year old son a copy of Resident Evil.
To this day it’s still one of my favourite games and even though I’m not a lover of the horror genre; I do still enjoy the occasional zombie apocalypse. So it probably comes as no surprise that I’m a fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead.
For those who don’t know, The Walking Dead is a TV series based on the comic book of the same name, and follows a group of people struggling to survive a zombie apocalypse. Watching them trying to survive in a world overrun by zombies is highly entertaining; but it can also be frustrating, grisly and downright bleak. In a lot of ways it’s just like a day at the office.
In any given episode the characters are faced with limited resources; poor leadership decisions; in-group fighting; competition from other groups; and hoards of zombies.
Take out the zombies and it’s exactly like a day at the office.
The Walking Dead returns on Sunday for a fifth season so we’ve decided to put together some business survival tips that are straight out of the Rick Grimes playbook.
***Warning: Spoilers Ahead***
Manage Your Resources
In the world of The Walking Dead resources are scarce. Things like food, ammo and medicine are extremely hard to come by. So the survivors need to use their resources in the most effective way possible.
In season 2, Rick suggests that the group use knives and other melee weapons against the zombies, using guns only when necessary. Why? Because it’s a better use of resources. Guns are more effective against the undead; but they’re also loud and can attract unwanted attention. Plus, since bullets are hard to find, it makes more sense to conserve ammo for when it’s really needed.
The lesson? Use your resources wisely. Understand the advantages and disadvantages of the tools at your disposal, and then figure out how and where they can be most effective. And be aware that it isn’t always about what you use; it’s how you use it. Simple changes to strategy can often spare your precious resources – and improve results.
Another example to consider is Daryl and his signature crossbow. It’s a more difficult weapon to wield, but it’s quiet and he can usually collect and reuse the arrows, placing less of a strain on the group’s limited supplies. Reusing or repurposing resources elsewhere in the company could potentially cut costs or save time looking around for other solutions.
Remember: Make the most of the resources you have, don’t waste them.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Like most things in life, a zombie apocalypse is a learning experience. And people are going to make mistakes.
Sure, locking dozens of undead cannibals in your barn and feeding them livestock until a cure arrives seems like a good idea. But when looked at in hindsight? Not so much.
And what’s the difference between surviving and becoming an undead cannibal locked in a barn? Learning from your mistakes.
The same logic applies to business. All businesses make mistakes; it’s unavoidable and it’s a part of the learning curve. The important thing is to learn from those mistakes. Your expensive new advertising campaign was a disaster? Look at why it was a disaster and your next campaign won’t be.
Making mistakes is fine; provided you only ever make new ones.
Indecision and Inaction Can Prove Costly
A lot of the hardship experienced by the TWD survivors could have been avoided if the leadership had acted sooner, or more decisively. Rick’s constant flip-flopping on important issues (The Governor, Shane, bringing Randall to the farm, exiling Carol, Farmer Rick) have proved costly for the group. Sure, he makes the right decision eventually, but eventually is often too late.
Taking the time to think over the big decisions is great; but you don’t always have that luxury. In business you can’t always wait around to see how things pan out, sometimes decisions need to be made quickly and decisively. Otherwise you run the risk of missing out on opportunities.
Know When to Let People Go
One of the major plot points in seasons 1 & 2 is the changing nature of Rick and Shane’s relationship. While Shane initially acts as Rick’s right hand man, over the course of the series their relationship deteriorates rapidly. Shane constantly undermines Rick’s position as leader; openly questioning his decisions and causing unrest among the other survivors, as well as acting in ways that are detrimental to the entire group.
In the end, Rick is left with no other option but to remove Shane.
Decisions made by management won’t always please everyone; this is something that’s true in any organization or post-apocalyptic survivor group. But if you have a team member that’s undermining everyone, ignoring management decisions and lowering group morale; don’t be afraid to cut them loose for the good of the company.
Be Aware of Outside Threats
The TWD survivors are constantly on the lookout for outside threats. They take the time to investigate and secure new areas before entering; they protect themselves against existing threats and prepare for new ones; and they adapt to any changes in the environment.
Take the same approach with your business; no matter what industry you’re in. Your competitors, your customers and industry trends should all help drive your decision making.
Don’t operate in a bubble. Taking stock of your environment and what’s happening in your industry will help you to evaluate your current strategies, adapt to trends, identify your market position and identify any threats or opportunities.
Whether you’re naviagting a zombie-infested wasteland or running a business; survivng is tough. We hope these tips help. Do you watch the show? Maybe you picked up some business lessons from The Walking Dead. If you have, leave them in the comments below.