Dead Zombie Leadership and Dead Zombie Architecture

One of the great legacies of Zombie Leadership is its investment in monumental architecture. Their empty, sometimes shattered, usually abandoned, campuses seem to echo the lines of Shelley’s broken statue found by a desert traveller in saying “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

Such monuments to failure and decay are the Zombie Leaders’ gift to professional archeologists, in providing endless scope for futile, speculative narratives masquerading as research that serves to tell us more about the politics of the writer than about the subject of the research itself.

From the abandoned temple cities of the Mayans to the operatic vainglory of Detroit, and a hundred university campuses, we can see glorious investment in architecture as the penultimate maturity stage of a business or a power model, where a decision has been made to suggest the permanence of an idea that’s invariably just about to die.

This is not to suggest that architectural vanity is a bad thing in itself, but that investing resources in monumental architecture designed to carry a message to the future, can be a dangerous distraction from taking care of today's business and paying attention to the fact that the current pattern of doing business is about to end. Just as Albert Speer played mutually-congratulatory architectural games with Adolf Hitler in the Berlin Bunker at the end of the war, with Hitler locked into his own zombie narrative of self-destruction and belief in himself as unrecognised artist, the Mayans also sacrificed first their enemies and later their own people in a vain attempt to overcome cycylical drought, and even Steve Jobs signed up for the same futile Zombie Leader game and perhaps aware of his own mortality, gave into the same Zombie impulse and built an Apple campus as perhaps his last aesthetic act.

So, if you feel tempted to construct a purpose-built campus for your organisation, then at least consider the possibility that being able to have such an ambition at this moment in time, may be an indicator of the fact that you are aware at a sub-conscious level that you are about to hit what Andy Groves called a “Strategic Inflection Point”, a change in the market and customer expectations where the old (by-now institutionalized Zombie) rules of doing business will become increasingly  ineffective. In other words, Zombie architectural daydreams mean it's time to change the rules.


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