S2 E82 — How Do You Inject Innovation into a Century’s Old Company?

I left law school to fulfill my military obligation is a polite way of saying it.  In the Army I learned two things I can talk about.  One was how unprepared the service was after recruiting college graduates who had other better ideas of what their future would look like and who weren’t loyal like the lifers.

“5”  Steve Winwood, 71; Stevie Wonder, 69; Stephen Colbert, 56: Your knowledge of words and symbols will lead you to analyze a situation and comprehend it so well that you’ll be a point of reference for others. You’ll contribute significantly to team decisions.” Taurus

Hi and welcome to Sunday’s Episode 82 in Season 2 of  “My Pandemic Year Natural Experiment” on this 19th day of July in the summer of 2020.  

“The Tau of Steves: What You Don’t Know Could Fill a Book”

Table of Contents

Season One and Two are a two-year examination of how bits of wisdom changed during the “normal” pre-pandemic and then in this unfolding pandemic year.

Previously in Season Two, the Pandemic Year

S2 E813rd of 4 Secrets to a Better WorkFit; S2 E80Unrealistic Expectations Hatched Green Box Lessons the Hard Way; S2 E79Ain’t No Paradoxy-Moron? How About an Emerging-Entrepreneur?

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

S1 E82Why Writers Aren’t the Only Endangered Species. Sigh.; S1 E81— Is This My Wake Up Call, Steve?; S1 E80I’ll Give You Adverse Conditions, Steve; S1 E79Can I Keep It Up? For a Year?


This is a continuation of “Volume Two Manuscript — WorkFit” a work-in-progress.

In a recent episodes we broke out talent profiles for each of the 4 Organization Types starting with Paradoxy-Morons, Emerging-Entrepreneurs and Sustaining-Associates.

Here are some examples from my list of best fit companies and clients to illustrate what it means to love Sustaining-Associates the “tan box” organization with it’s unique blend of talent profiles:

    • 109 SAICA Internal Change Agents
    • 110 SAAS Analytical Specialists
    • 111 SAAT Agile Tiger Teams 
    • 112 SALA Loyal Survivalists

Oops, this first example turned out to be eye-opening, educational and potentially deadly. And, definitely not a better fit for me or my posse.  

3.  US Army Worse Fit

I definitely was not loyal, having not much in common with lifers, but I got to know and work with all kinds of people from different backgrounds and I felt I needed to fulfill my obligation. 

Luckily part of my time was spent in more challenging work in preventive medicine. But to tell you the truth I hated standard operating procedures, “There’s the right way, the wrong way and the Army way.”


I left law school to fulfill my military obligation is a polite way of saying it.  In the Army I learned two things I can talk about.  

One was how unprepared the service was after recruiting college graduates who had other better ideas of what their future would look like and weren’t loyal like the lifers.  

We took on more skilled MOS specialties.  

I graduated from medic to preventive medicine and eventually worked in an air-condition laboratory in Vietnam for processing water samples.  And we palled around with the officers — many trained in medicine in my unit which caused frustration up and down the chain of command.  

I learned I wasn’t cut out to blindly follow orders as standard operating procedures when it seemed like there were more efficient processes that could deliver the results in half the time.  

You know what they say, “There’s the right way, the wrong way and the Army way.”

At Fort Dix, New Jersey for basic training as a freshly minted psychology college graduate the Army’s “game” revealed itself to me. Unfortunately for my drill sergeant my psychology training made me resistant to his methods and kept me anticipating what his next tactics would be.  Like getting my platoon to sing along while marching to chants of “kill Charlie.”  Sergeant Ski told us he came back from Nam and we’d better listen up, because all or most of us would be on our way there shortly after a brief stint in Advanced Training following Basic’s indoctrination of new recruits.  

At Ft. Sam Houston in Texas and later in Long Binh, Vietnam my buddies — college graduates too — had much more in common with the officers.  Our common interests created challenges up and down the chain of command. I wanted to solve problems and suggested new more efficient ways to improve procedures, but those fell on deaf ears.  So, I learned to “go underground” with work arounds that made my job easier without calling attention to it.

As a Sustaining-Associates Organization Type, the military thrived with 111 SAAT Agile Tiger Teams and 112 SALS Loyal Survivalists primarily with 110 SAAS Analytical Specialists in administrative and headquarters functions.  

I never came in contact with any 109 SAICA Internal Change Agents— if you discount us college-educated passive-aggressive, but two decades I later discovered their introduction of rapid sharing of best practices into a resistant culture in a video I’d shown to managers and product leaders in a high tech company stretching from emerging to rapid growth.  

Based upon higher affiliation and medium pace and improvement dimensions I now categorize my manufacturing, gas station, Good Humor Ice Cream and even department store retail jobs. Yes, those were summer jobs, including becoming an insurance agent, but the business model was recruit them, orient them to represent the brand, and replace them when they don’t work out.  

9. Consultant Life and Mutual Fund CompanyBetter Fit

This one worked out much better.

I scored a long-term retainer with a life insurance and mutual fund firm.  It was the kind of mature organization that employed maintenance workers just to polish its brick entry way.  

A few years earlier they had won company of the year honors like we did in my “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than to beg for permission” company.  

Their challenge was — how can you inject innovation into a century’s old mature company?  

I figured, why not try. 

It was a complex, complicated maneuver with tons of new knowledge and new idea packaging.  

My direct client, a 110 SAAS Analytical Specialist with help from a small team of 109 SAICA Internal Change Agents worked together to influence the company’s “immune system” through leadership classes. 

The long-term retainer, a consultant’s dream, provided billable hours for three days a week collaborating on the advanced leadership curriculum. I picked up some other projects — one with Ford Aerospace when their division,  Ford Aeronutronic’s Human Resources staff required coaching during the closing of the Newport Beach facility,  

I taught reengineering and continuous improvement through the local university and collaborated with the Vice President of Human Resources at a headquarters of a medical laboratory to build out a Leadership Academy.

A few years later my long-term retainer client left to form his own consultancy, snagged a similar assignment with another 100-year-old plus company operating in the food industry.

He (110 SAAS Analytical Specialist) brought me in to create a similar leadership curriculum for his client who was a 109 SAICA Internal Change Agent to inject change into their Strategic Leadership. He worried that their organization had operated at the stage of growth for years for so long that the up and coming current managers (112 SALS Loyal Survivalists) hadn’t experienced any other way of operating . It was a prescription he felt for a disaster on their career watch.

Well, like at Fluor anytime you try to maneuver a mature organization away from what had worked so well for so long the entrenched management resists the opposite set of key success factors like your immune system repels diseases.


What makes Sustaining-Associates tick?

112 SALS Loyal Survivalists anchor the Sustaining-Associates culture. They manage people, technologies, processes, and organizational structures to sustain the innovation they’ve already mastered. Employees identify with the organization and have high affiliation needs that favor slower paced industries and cultures.

Brand Loyalty. 

Sustained Improvement, Affiliation and Mastery

Building predictably upon past history and loyal customer retention.


“If it win’t broke don’t fix it.”

What are their unique challenges? 

        • Missing competitive threats and responding too late.
        • Resting on their traditional successes.
        • Preparing the next generation of leaders for a different competitive environment.

What are the takeaways?  

To mature and survive their brand needs to be accepted by the majority of the total available market.

A loyal affiliated talent culture needs constant retention so associates maintain the organization’s reputation.

Through their behaviors they develop a trust mark that keeps bringing long-term customers back again and again.

Next up — Systematic-Professionals.


Random ones that make me want change my sign.

“5”  Steve Winwood, 71; Stevie Wonder, 69; Stephen Colbert, 56: Your knowledge of words and symbols will lead you to analyze a situation and comprehend it so well that you’ll be a point of reference for others. You’ll contribute significantly to team decisions.” Taurus 

So, I’ll drink to that.  After field testing my original research in the executive MBA program hopefully my manuscript I’m tentatively calling WorkFit serves as a point of reference for you and your decisions. I know it has at the university level so far.

“4”  Steve Aoki, 41:With so much going on, your mind will toggle between being engaged, distracted, engaged, etc. Finally, you’ll have a heavenly stretch of time to ponder what you are and what you might be.” Sagittarius

Since this is definitely not legitimately meant for me, wouldn’t it go without saying that my research may contribute to your heavily stretch of time to ponder …

“4”  Steve Nash, 45:A joyful life is a custom job. No one recipe will work for everyone. In fact, if you were to do someone else’s joy-program it would bore you at best. Create your own adventure.” Aquarius

Am I wrong to loosely interpret this TauBit of Wisdom as living at the heart of my original research into Organization Types and Talent Profiles?

“4”  Steve Jobs, (1955 – 2011): The thing that makes you call an activity ‘work’ is that it’s at least a little harder than doing nothing at all. However much effort it takes, it can also be exceedingly pleasant. That’s how it will go down today at least.” Pisces

And I’m guessing that’s how it will go down on each day going forward as I beat this content into submission to make it more palatable.

Holiday Forecast for the Week Ahead:  

In the early days of biology, many scientists believed that all beings developed from miniature versions of themselves, and these ‘seed germs’ were the same in microscopic form as they were in forms full-grown. 

The radical transformations of some creatures, and the ability of certain creatures to reproduce in various ways, including asexually, could not be explained with this theory, which eventually had to give way to ideas of generation more varied and plausible.

There are many ways in which we, as individuals, grow in spirit. Sometimes, we do stay about the same as we simply grow bigger until our soul and personality fill out the space in a way that feels more ‘full-sized.’ But more often than not, the spiritual aspects of our being thrive in more unusual, varied and transformative ways. Often we don’t grow so much as change.

What’s Going On

Literally Bottled and Set Adrift from KnowWhere Atoll 

    • @knowlabs followers of one or more of my 35 digital magazines organically grew from 4397 to 4427.




    • Saw the movie, didn’t realize that one of my favorite authors, Michael Connelly — his detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch book series and Amazon Prime series — also wrote, “The Lincoln Lawyer” which I just finished. Gotta tell you I can’t not see his lead character (Mickey Haller, Bosch’s half brother) as anyone else but Matthew McConaughey. 

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by: Holiday Mathis – Creators Syndicate


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