Brand U Work in the Disruption Economy

Posts in category Paradigms

Work Life Balance

Common comments often heard were: ‘Why should we bend over backwards if management is not committed to us,’ and ‘just because I’m single and childless doesn’t mean I have the will or the desire to work a 12-hour day, six days a week.’

There is a hierarchy of work-life needs that if unmet result in workplace tension, work dissatisfaction, and marital conflict. The most basic worklife need is individual respect followed by balancing time on and off the job, and work flexibility.

Family Friendly Companies

Companies are simultaneously transforming and want to be ‘family friendly.’ These two trends sometimes seem incompatible. Each year, more companies are competing to be a poster company for Working Mother Magazine’s ‘Best Companies for Working Mothers.’ Brand U’s want more flexibility to balance work and family. However, companies want the banner that lists them in the top 100 family friendly companies while the reality is that competitive pressures on all of us are increasing.[i]

[i] Shellenberger, Sue, “There are Ways to Get Your Boss to be More Flexible,” Wall Street Journal, September 11, 1996, p. B1.

Brand U Leadership Redux


  • Lead the cultural change or transformation
  • Make a case for cultural change
  • Use organizational design as part of the business strategy
  • Ensure the successful change effort is collaboratively, systemically, and competently managed
  • Promote a continuous learning and adaptation environment
  • Are keepers of the organizational vision.[i]

[i] Sherwood, John J; Hoylman, Florence M, “The Total Quality Paradox: Part Two ‑ How to Make Total Quality Work,” Journal for Quality & Participation, June, 1993, p. 82‑91.

Drive By Shooting Organization

What does a non-Brand U organization look like? Mort Meyerson, President of Perot Systems recently said, “the emphasis on profit-and-loss to the exclusion of other values was creating a culture of destructive contention. … For example, I listened to some of our senior leaders talk about how they handled people on teams who didn’t perform. I heard talk of ‘drive-by shootings’ to ‘take out nonperformers; then they would ‘drag the body around to make an example out of them.’”[i]

Would you want to work in a place like this? Well, of course you wouldn’t and that’s the point. Brand U’s don’t want to work in this type of organization. The best organizations hire and retain the best people. They also have a culture that induces the best participation, contribution, and inspiration.

[i] Meyerson, Mort, “Everything I Thought I Knew about Leadership is Wrong,” Fast Company, The Greatest Hits, Volume 1, p. 7.

Organizations Are Run by Rules

There’s a misconception the only way to create a virtual organization is to provide workers a laptop, e-mail, and instructions while corporate offices are sublet or disappear. Wrong!

Organizations run on a set of rules, principles, and practices. Businesses and organizations are based on a culture, face-to-face contacts, synergies, and shared goals that can’t be replaced by a set of electronic tools.

Teaming Religion

Teaming can be a religion or a cult. The Wall Street Journal said that one “plant’s emphasis on fitting into a group can seem almost cultist: Worker mishaps that might hamper production or tarnish the plant’s reputation are considered an affront to everyone and can prompt a sort of communal confession.”[i]

One group at this plant mistakenly allowed a batch of defective products to be produced. The self managed team had to explain to the entire plant what happened and how it would be avoided in the future. If this is rough for you, how would you feel if you had to go in front of an entire workforce, explain what happened, and then wait until all your workplace partners voted whether your entire team should be fired for the transgression.


[i] Aeppel, Timothy, “Missing the Boss: Not All Workers Find the Idea of Empowerment as Neat as It Sounds,” Wall Street Journal, September 8, 1997, p. 1.

New Organizational Structures

While the hierarchal business organization still predominates, it’s also changing. Now, the hierarchal model is flatter and amorphous in Brand U organizations. Innovative organizational models are often based on interlocking groups, virtual partnerships, strategic alliances, and matrix organizations.


Do I Want to Be a Manager?

Many fresh MBAs want to go into management thinking that’s the way to power, perks, and bucks. There are other ways to getting these, including being a highly paid Brand U individual contributor.

Two recent articles graced the front page of the Wall Street Journal on the wisdom of becoming a manager. Their challenging titles say it all: “Off the Ladder: Want to be a Manager? Many People Say No! Calling Job Miserable” and “Who’s the Boss? A Software Engineer Becomes a Manager, With Many Regrets.” A new ailment runs through organizations: management phobia. Many don’t want to be managers and existing managers want to jump off the track. The reasons vary. ‘I want freedom.’ ‘I don’t want to attend so many #@% meetings!’ ‘I want a life.’ ‘I want time with my kids.’

Making Your Number – But Do It Nicely

Being CEO or a vice president of a mega corporation once promised to be a secure, high-paid retirement cushion. No more! If CEOs, VPs, business unit managers, plant managers, and even first level sales managers don’t make their numbers, they’re history. And, we all have to make our numbers in a politically and culturally correct way. This is part of the new Brand U business message.

Recently, the CEO of Delta Air Lines was at the top of the US business heap. There was only one problem. The executive was ‘too hard-nosed for his own good’ according to a front-page article in the Wall Street Journal. He was promoted on his ability to deliver on his promises to transform, reengineer, and cut fat throughout the organization. He did an excellent job based on the old cost-cutting paradigm. But when the prevailing paradigm changes, the Brand U person adapts or accepts the consequences.

Allegedly, he went too far and was a victim of his own success. Delta had been the preeminent US airline carrier with a legendary history of exceptional customer service. Problems arose following the Delta transformation. Employee morale tanked. Customer confidence and service tumbled. Pilots, flight attendants, and mechanics lost confidence in Allen. Delta’s board heard the messages and acted. They eased Allen out.[i]

[i] Brannigan, Martha and White, Joseph, “So Be It: Why Delta Air Lines Decided It Was Time for CEO to Take Off,” Wall Street Journal, May 30, 1997, p. A1.

Jesus as CEO

For inspiration and guidance, more of us are turning to less traditional sources of inspiration such as the bible and sports. (Jesus CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership). A professional sport is a form of work and coaching is the sport’s equivalent to managing.

So, can NBA coaches offer us business tips on leadership and management? It seems that they can and do. Pat Riley, coach of the Miami Heat, Don Shula, former coach of the NFL Miami Dolphins and Phil Jackson, the coach of the Chicago Bulls are now leadership gurus. Phil Jackson offers transcendental suggestions in Sacred Hoops and tips such as “above all, trust your gut. This is the first law of leadership.”