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What Is Corporate Lobotomy and Why Should Companies Avoid

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Corporate lobotomy is characterised by a situation where the senior professionals in any organisation are disregarded, as they are sometimes disliked for saying ‘no’ to a project proposal – where they foresee a hit on the bottom line and also against the underwriting prudence. In the modern world, where everyone is only concerned about the top line and ‘job-hopping‘, the opinion of these people is all the more important, but unfortunately, the issue is not understood by many CEOs, until their balance sheet is out.  But even then, they fail to understand and take corrective actions, because until then egos of a lot of senior people have already been doing damage to the organisation. Sadly, this is rather counterproductive since a rise in employees happiness can lead to improved productivity

In the early 1930s, scientists were looking for new ways to treat the severely mentally ill. Egas Moniz observed the reduction in aggression when the frontal lobes of monkeys were removed. He thought that this procedure could be used, if modified, to treat some aggressive behaviours for some mentally-ill patients. He developed a procedure that did not involve the removal of the frontal lobe but instead through refining neurosurgical techniques he could perform a lobotomy with minimal invasiveness.

The intent of the surgery was to disconnect the neurological connection between the frontal lobe and the thalamus thereby changing the patient’s behaviour. After many controversies and procedures, neuropsychologists found that the side effects of the lobotomy, decreased long and short-term memory, brain damage, flat personality, and decrease intellect were more detrimental to the patients. After a lobotomy, patients often lost such characteristics as spontaneity, responsiveness, self-awareness, self-control, and a major shift in the personality of the patient.

Just as humans, corporations must maintain their communication, responsiveness to markets, awareness of their position in the market place, and be able to control a menagerie of business procedures and protocols. In these economic times, many corporations are downsizing and modify their structures in order to maintain competitiveness in the marketplace.

Downsizing is the elimination of workers and procedures in order to be more efficient. It is important for executives to understand that the side effects of downsizing may result in losing assets that maintained the corporation’s image, brand, and responses to markets in a timely manner and ultimately change to the detriment of the corporation.

Why is it that new managers grow up to become corporate leaders? It seems that they forget the most fundamental lessons they have picked up along the way. And why is it that with every promotion they take, they seem to lose basic perspective on what is essential to them when they were bottom at the corporate ladder? When contemplating major changes, one should proceed with care and caution so that change is not so drastic as to lose the focus of one’s original intent.     

Decisions taken within any company may be made by individuals or groups, but whoever makes them will be influenced by the culture of the company. The decision to behave ethically is a moral one; employees must decide what they think is the right course of action. And as with most things in life, repetition is the key to learning. The more we practice the more efficient we become at what we do. That is equally true whether we are learning something correctly or incorrectly. Play the wrong notes of a tune on the piano long enough, and surely you are bound to mess up that song. Therefore, we should do everything we can to avoid that corporate lobotomy

William ‘Bill’ Reboli is a PhD student studying Social Psychology and Human Motivation.

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