Brand U Work in the Disruption Economy

Posts in category Processes

Act First

The first person gets the oyster; the second person gets the shell.

Andrew Carnegie, business person

Getting Things Done in Flat Organizations

Positional or hierarchal power allows command and control or management by decree. But how do things get done in flat, cross-functional teamed and virtual organizations? More often, it is through influence tied to knowledge, access to resources, and persuasion.

Poor Execution

In this Brand U world, all the rules are different and people don’t know what to do in what order because their 30 years of experience haven’t prepared them for all the change – think disruption.

So, it’s not a lack of ideas. It more often comes down to poor execution, which may mean not getting things done, being indecisive, or not delivering on commitments

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.

Millennial Futures

“For young people, it is very important not to be able to see one’s fate, it’s very important to have the sense that one’s life is not preordained.

Po Bronson, author

Bronson, Po, The Nudist on the Late Shift, NY: Random House, p. xxvi.

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.

Leadership Practice

Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.

Harold Geneen, CEO ITT

Flat Organizational Challenge

Core activities are designed around end-to-end processes while special activities are project managed. But, new problems can arise. To illustrate a recent challenge in a flattened organization, a Brand U manager had three direct reports to manage 90 people.

Three front-line supervisors don’t exist anymore and this person now manages 90 people. What’s the most effective way to do this? Ninety direct reports are too wide a span of control. Thus self-managed, Brand U project teams and self directed Brand U individuals create the Brand U organization.


Silicon Valley Challenge

Can this economy last? Po Bronson, the chronicler of Silicon Valley and today’s techies, offered the following warning:

“Can the (Silicon) Valley’s high-tech pickup game keep growing forever? Isn’t there some natural limit where the degree of chaos caused by the churning of start-ups and failures exceeds the degree of order established by standardized protocols and it starts to tear itself down faster than it builds up? Doesn’t the fact that the business is running on vapor – without revenues, without offices, without physical products – mean that at a certain point it will lose its ability to float? Do the principles of economics work in space, beyond the reach of gravity? Is there any oxygen up there? One fad after another has been proven to be no more than that, but amazingly, everyone still has a job, plugging sixty-hour weeks into the next fad. Surely, surely, a crash is due. Not just a brisk correction that can be patched by repricing options but a real crash.”

Bronson, Po, The Nudist on the Late Shift, NY: Random House, p. xxx.