Like this company X I know, in the vertical application business. Same as company Y and Z I also know in the vertical application business, all of them doing healthcare applications like record systems, pathology systems, etc. Doesn’t matter exactly what they do or who they are, they are all representative of how that entire segment is looking and behaving right now. So when I describe one of them, I describe them all.

Right off the bat, I have to confess that my sudden blinding flashes of the obvious are brought on by an overdose of Seth Godin’s books. I’m on my fifth right now, “Survival is not enough“, with the subtitle “Shift happens“, and I’ve got six more to go. I simply bought all of them, as far as I know. (Seth, shouldn’t you provide for subscriptions?)

Everything he says, I already knew, but I didn’t know I knew until he told me. That’s the best kind of book, the one that digs out something that’s been lurking inside your mind and exposes it to the air. It’s also the easiest kind of book to read for me, since I need no convincing. It comes from me, inside myself, so it must be true (I’m almost serious).

So what about these zombies, what are they doing wrong? Well, they’re challenged, to put it mildly. All of them seem to have sales teams on crack, selling anything to anyone, if it exists or not. Then they’ve got backlogs they can’t handle, increasingly irate customers (some of them trailing lawyers and stuff), development languages and IDEs that are orphaned since years. They try one new development methodology after another, decide they have no time to implement them and abandon them again, after spending monumental amounts of money and time on stuff they never give a chance to deliver a return. They get involved, but they don’t commit (insert favorite farm animal references here).

Once they start losing orders, they abandon even more of the changes they tried out and go back to their old ways, just like a wounded animal curling up in the bushes, hoping the predators will pass them by. The worse everything gets, the more these people grab hold of methods and means that used to work so many years ago, but evidently don’t work anymore. They know it won’t work, but they can’t let go. Amazing.

Look, there’s one message here, that seems not to penetrate, and that is: if your old methods don’t work, change. The worse it gets, the more reason you have to change. The sooner you change, the more capital and time you have to bridge the change and pick up on the other side of the divide. If you wait until there is nothing left, there is, um, nothing left.

But it’s pointless. They will not uncurl and come out from under that bush. Poor bastards.