My co-editor Ben Gilad recently published a terrific essay called The Neurotic Index. I am happy to provide other entries in this reference series. If companies continue to misbehave we will compile their foibles into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Corporate Disorders in 2014.

Denial Disorder

Description: Denial isn’t disagreement. This is disagreement: you say “we are headed for disas­ter!” and I say “no we aren’t.” This is denial: you say “we are headed for disaster!” and I say “did you watch the 49ers game on Sunday?”

Symptom: We can’t get anything done because there’s nothing to be done.

Measurement: Ask your colleagues if they think the company is in denial. Total up the “yes” votes; they acknowledge the problem. Also total up the “no” votes; they demonstrate the problem.

Important note! Most sufferers dispute the diagnosis. Discard any evidence that they are right.

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The dictionary defines neurotic behavior as “overanxious.” Woody Allen made this behavior popular in his movies, almost loveable.

We all know neurotic people. Maybe even ourselves, depending on subject matter.

I think companies can exhibit neurotic behavior too. I would not bother to document this statement if it did not relate to the skill of competing. In this piece I also offer a new tool called the Neurotic Index, or NIX. Use it to assess how your organization’s neurotic behavior affects its skill at competing. Don’t get neurotic about it, though.

I was inspired to create the NIX by a personal experience with a Fortune 500 company. I’ve dealt with Fortune 500 companies my entire professional life, so I’m used to a certain level of neurosis. Mid-level managers are often subject to unpredictable demands from the top level, which turns the mid-level neurotic from time to time. But this was different.

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I ate a healthful breakfast in a hotel lounge. Fresh fruit, plain Greek yogurt, and a single-serving box of raisin bran cereal.

The box practically promised me immortality. “100%* daily value of 11 vitamins & minerals,” it pledged. With each bite I could feel myself bursting with fitness and glowing with health. My shirtsleeves were tightening around my biceps.

Then I noticed the asterisk. “*Based on a 53g serving. This box contains 33g.” The box had 62% of the daily value of those 11 nutrients, and 38% baloney.

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