Outlaw Chicken Little Thinking

Scarcity thinking is a disease that can enter your company’s DNA and destroy your culture. When one of your people believes that there is “not enuf stuff to go around”, they will become paranoid, jealous and focused on the wrong things.

I’ve found that the root of a bad attitude is the scarcity mindset. I call those thinkers Chicken Littles. They are programmed to believe that they add value by announcing that “the sky is falling.” Frequently, they are very persuasive and can spread a funk throughout your organization. It takes exact one Chicken Little to poison the mood.

What to do? Outlaw this type of thinking. I had a boss at Yahoo who had a red rubber stamp made with Chicken Little in one inch sized letters. When he got an email or memo from a Chicken Little, he’d stamp it and post it to the wall for all to see. This really reversed the culture and made scarcity thinking uncool. He’s challenge naysayers by asking them, “where are you coming from with this attitude, scarcity or abundance?” Pretty quickly, a new way of thinking spread — there’s enough to go around, pass it on.

When I would do new hire orientation at Yahoo, I always challenged the newbies to overcome scarcity thinking or run the risk of being expunged from the body like a disease. I let them know that Chicken Littles don’t move up the food chain in our culture. This helped new hires avoid the delusion that being a bad-news-bear was a way to add value.

Recommendation: Find one Chicken Little this week and confront them for their attitude. The reality is that there is enough resources, respect and time to go around. You are building a culture by eliminating a mindset that will take your group down.