The Ten Plagues of Business

A Seder table setting

As you might have noticed, I took a day off from writing yesterday in honor of Passover. As we’ve discussed before, I really enjoy this holiday for a number of reasons. This year, I’ve been thinking in particular about a portion of the Seder that deals with the last straw. Yep – the plagues sent to convince Pharaoh to “let my people go”. You can almost hear Tony Soprano delivering the lines – “you don’t wanna know what’s gonna happen, capisce?  Be that as it may, the plagues got me thinking about some of the things that we inflict upon ourselves and our businesses.Let’s start not with blood as in the Seder but with falsehood.  We lie to ourselves when we don’t accept reality.  Some folks lie to employees, partners, and clients.  Then we have, in lieu of frogs, hypocrisy, falsehood’s cousin.  Believing that executives can behave one way while employees are told to behave another way  is a plague upon any business.  Doing the same with customers is fatal.  Next we have myopia instead of lice – the inability to see anything that’s not right in front of you.

Flies are a plague only if you’re running a restaurant.  I’d replace them with lack of accountability.  It’s great to make rules and have standards but if there is no follow-up it’s as if they don’t exist.  Death of cattle is next but maybe killing new ideas is closer to our modern business reality?  Boils may be disfiguring but bad communication is far worse in a business.

Hail?  I’d do a play on words there – self-absorption, egomania – “hail me!” instead of saluting one’s customers.  Locusts?  Some businesses have them – the things that eat up every resource and produce nothing.  They need to be wiped out.  Darkness?  I’d replace it with being closed – closed in mind, in receptivity to new ideas, to feedback.

Finally, I’ll leave the last one up to you.  In Exodus, it was the death of the first-born – something so horrible that it finally convinced Pharaoh to let the Jews leave.  What do you think is the business equivalent?  While you’re at it, any thoughts on the other 9?

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