Brand U Work in the Disruption Economy

Posts in category Projects

Project Work Started at the Dawn of Time

If we believe Brand U work is project related then the earliest homo sapiens had a Brand U project approach to gathering food, hunting for food, building a shelter, and propagating their clan. Each of these activities had a beginning and end with a specific life-driven purpose.

What is a Project?

Projects: A plan or proposal; an undertaking requiring concerted effort.

Jost, David, Ed., The American Heritage College Dictionary, 3rd Edition, Houghton Mifflin, 1993.

It’s All About Project Work

According to Tom Peters: “All white collar work is project work.”[i] The project life puts a person in the middle or outer ring of Charles Handy/Hutchins work model. Stephen Covey and other work gurus put it bluntly: “Your job description may change from day to day; in fact, your ‘job’ may be simply a series of projects involving people from other departments, even outside contractors.”[ii]

The lifelong Brand U project career path is evolving inside and outside organizations. We may be professionals, specialists, or craftspeople. What characterizes Brand U’s is we have portable and marketable skills. A software engineer learns new software languages and goes where the market is. A lawyer with special skills, such as environmental law, may move around the country or even the world working on environmental litigation cases. Career success depends on developing core competencies and then displaying them in projects. These projects preferably are on your customer’s or employer’s critical growth and profit path.

[i] Peters, Tom, “The Wow Project,” Fast Company, May, 1999, p. 118.

[ii] Covey, Stephen, “How to Succeed in Today’s Workplace,” Parade, September 2, 1997.

Prepare for the Project Life

“After decades of wholesale neglect, companies are finally facing the fact of pathetic white-collar productivity and realizing that they need to organize work in a fundamentally new way … They (white collar workers) need to rethink the very nature of work.

If they’re going to work in the future, they must be able to demonstrate clearly, precisely and convincingly how they can add value. The answer – the only answer – is the project. And not just any project, no matter how droning, boring, but rather what my colleagues and I have come to call ‘Wow Projects,’ projects that add value, projects that can make you a star,” according to Tom Peters. [i]

[i] Peters, Tom, “The Wow Project,” Fast Company, May, 1999, p. 118.

Brand U Project Questions

  1. Do you work in a projectized organization?
  2. Do you believe that you’ll project manage your work life?
  3. Do you volunteer or are selected for highly visible new projects?
  4. Why or why not are you selected?
  5. Are you adaptable to assume project manager/leader/coach roles?
  6. Do you believe that Brand U project managers will replace middle managers?
  7. What types of project tools do you use?
  8. What Brand U project manager roles have you assumed, ie. leader, coach, or facilitator?
  9. Are you or do you want to be a Brand U itinerant professional or consultant?
  10. What is the upside and the downside if you become one?
  11. Have you ever consulted internally or as an itinerant consultant?
  12. Are you a how, what, why, or who consultant?


Why Hire Brand U Consultants?


  • Provide peace of mind
  • Solve unusual problems
  • Provide third party opinion
  • Provide objectivity and independence
  • Assist in organizational change
  • Supplement in-house services
  • Offer out-of-box thinking/doing
  • Justify decisions
  • Provide political cover

What’s a Consultant?

What’s a consultant? ‘Someone who takes your watch to tell you the time.’ Or, ‘someone 50 miles from home.’ We’ve all heard these jokes. The reality is there are many more Brand U’s telling time and being more than 50 miles from home working as consultants.

Why are there these jokes? Most consulting is project work providing a customer with a vague product called ‘peace of mind.’ Consultants take advantage of changes in technology and complexity, which result in client confusion and uncertainty. Brand U’s can provide ‘peace of mind’ because they have special knowledge, know-how, objectivity, and independence.[i]

[i] “Management Consultancy,” The Economist, March 22, 1998, p. 1-22.

Why is Brand U Project Work Hot!

  • Customers want more, faster, cheaper, and better
  • Product life cycles are halved and shrinking further
  • Brand U’s relish challenge
  • People must do more, faster, with less
  • Cross functional virtual project teams do more work
  • Work is core-processed or projectized
  • Project manager replaces middle manager
  • Work is chunked into projects and sub-projects
  • Pay is great

If You Don’t Spend 70% of Your Time on Projects, You’re Sushi

Tom Peters, the guru’s guru, declares that if you, the Brand U, don’t spend up to 70% of your time on projects, you’re sushi. Projects give you visibility, wide experience, and opportunities. Tom Peters has capitalized on the trend that we’ll all be itinerant free agents. He’s trademarked the phrase, ‘The Power of You.’TM

Smart. Real smart. If each of us is evolving into a self-directed project manager in a virtual team or projectized organization, what will our work future look like? Many have their own ideas. We can only speculate as the following discussion reveals.

Title Confusion

In today’s new work environment, what’s the title and role of the person who brings all the resources together in the project team? Is this Brand U a project manager, leader, coach, facilitator, or some other term?

Project leadership is abstract, touchie-feely, and frankly difficult for many of us. The projectized organization looks and feels a lot different than the managerial, hierarchal work model. In the hierarchal model, work got done through one person telling another what to do and how to do it. Even the term ‘project manager’ evokes images of one person dictating to thousands of ready minions the direction of something grandiose, such as moving mountains, building airports, or dredging rivers. Manager still implies a hierarchal relationship where the boss is responsible for all planning, organizing, staffing, and controlling all project activities. Decisions are based on power and position.