Rot at the Top

Looked at from underneath this piece of established trellis looks weathered but sound. Step out to the side or look down from above and it is immediately apparent that this structure has advanced Rot at the Top and is on its way to failure. Let’s hope no-one is underneath when the structure fails. Although it looks like the surrounding bushes and creepers that it was intended to support might prop it up for a while….

A random observation in the park or a thinly disguised pop at a common problem for large organisations:

Rot at the Top

To pursue the metaphor a bit:

  • I’m sure that when the structure was first put in place that it was properly treated and prepared for its role as a pillar of the establishment with preventative maintenance planned.
  • And when time passed and everything seemed fine that someone, somewhere, suggested a reduction in maintenance activity. When the structure was not treated every year and did not immediately fall down, I expect that they were feted for reducing costs and probably even got promoted.
  • Also that when the degradation of the top of the structure was noticed that successive contractors probably offered to arrest the decline with coats of paint or preservative – none of which actually cut out the rot at the top and repaired any of the damage.


This and other patterns of demise of large organisation’s is well documented by others. This particular failure mode strikes a chord for me as I have seen it happen in several enterprises over the last 35 years. I claim the damage was preventable through the use of diverse mind-sets, externally scrutiny and sponsored challenge.

So what?

I believe that there is no place for smugness as smaller businesses observe the struggles of larger, less agile enterprises.

Rot at the Top can strike in any size of business

Worse, in smaller businesses there is generally less of a supportive eco-system established so the failure is often faster and more likely to be fatal.


Agile Strategy Design® will call out the issues at the top – not dodge around them for the pay-cheque.

Business Decision Design® will ensure that your decision-making apparatus can catch and prevent Rot at the Top before it becomes catastrophic.

Happy to discuss


There’s that picture again.

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