S2 E110 — Keys for Reinventing a FUD-Soaked Enterprise

To find out which ideas have made it off the whiteboard, been placed into practice, and are being tested to see what works and what doesn’t.  So teams, what have you been working on, what have you discovered, and how can we help?

“5”  Steve Nash, 45:Your mighty purpose today is to make people smile. Indeed, there may be none mightier, or more challenging, considering the moods of some of the people you’ll come across.”  Aquarius

Hi and welcome to Sunday’s Episode 110 in Season 2 of  “My Pandemic Year Natural Experiment” on this 6th day of September in the fall 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 E109Rebuilding Trust Doesn’t Happen Overnight; S2 E108Why Our Reinvention Efforts Failed (and Yours Will Too); S2 E107Leaving Us Adrift in a Sea of Change

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

S1 E110Love, Longing, Belonging, Connection and Loss; S1 E109Do All Introverts Take the Long Acetylcholine Pathway?; S1 E108After So Many Defeats is it Time to Catch a New Trajectory?; S1 E107How Do You Rate Your Sense of Curiosity?


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

In previous episodes we described Start Up, Emerging Growth, Rapid Growth, Sustained Growth, Maturity, Decline and now Reinvention stages.

Reinvention without Decline

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

We described a mini-case of a major decline,  Part One, Part Two and Part Three. And, before that we profiled two mini case studies about what it was like working behind the scenes at a mature company in a financial, in a consumer industry and two more in another century-old university system — Part One and Two. 

Now turn from our 3-part Reinvention mini-case operating from within a technology company,  Part One,  Part Two and Part Three to a different industry with similar needs, but from a consulting assignment. We profiled Part One in the last episode.


27. Knowledge Management — Brand Company  

A Strategy and Brand Consultancy. 

Part Two

Crazy creative Dave and I had mini-case experience at Unisys — how do you build a common culture around a new direction when all employees experience is fear, uncertainty and doubt.  With this major project, sprinkle in a failed “Agenda for Change”.

We described the challenge as an internal branding, marketing and advertising campaign.  Somehow PRERS top management had to rebuild trust and flip the low morale of the now into a new vision of something employees could see, touch or feel.

We had to translate our marketing-speak into something top management could understand and support.  During our presentations Gasper’s major coup came when he described company paradigms as — the most fundamental and all-encompassing expression all employees feel, but can’t necessarily describe.  It’s a classic “We’ll know it when we see it.”  

Gasper somehow convinced our client that a company’s strategic intent (an integrated PRERS) “Vision or mission statements, and core values constitute its paradigm or world view.”  And to build back trust, internal brand development follows three acts.

The first act begins “… as the back story leading to a catalyst point which catapults the character into act two, which is the migration path to the new state.”  

We first described “our Migration Paths to the Future” by highlighting Innovation Teams (Alliance Management, Relationship Management, Operational Excellence, eBusiness, and People Leadership), and how they have been thinking-out-of-the-box about our core competencies and imagining totally new ways of doing business.  

As Gasper told top management, “Here action (and reaction) builds character, brand is strategy in action, and what you will be doing is building belief.”  He told them that their “Unique Organizing Principle” is what we will describe and help them craft an internal interactive communications “brand” or “identity” 

The idea is to discover the core values of the organization (transformation of customer) and to create 4 C’s: “context, content, connections and conversations around deep principles of shared learning, yet still keep it tied to strategic initiatives.”

My role with crazy creative Dave was to catch early successes, circulate stories about first steps into the future, and make them exciting and fun.

It took weeks to earn the necessary approvals.  Then the hard work began. 

What the hell is their organizing principle — their new core foundational story?  How can our marketing and advertising gurus translate it into something completely different, but on a subliminal level feel true and inviting.  Inviting enough for employees to suspend their critical, widespread FUD-dominated thinking and consider their new story?

We struggled and struggled in late night brainstorming sessions to come up with an answer. Until John Googled some company history and their logo — the Rock of Gibraltar. 

What from a distance looks like a huge, barren rock we discovered, is the home of 530 unique species of fauna and flora.  

That’s it.  We can work with that.  530!  

Images flowed.  Sketches on our white board connected to other sketches.  “530 equals overlooked employees — unique PRERS species of talented people.”  Innovation teams need to be nurtured. 

They need to be given a safe place to grow without reprisal.  People not on the teams could contribute to them if:

1) they knew the teams existed,

2) what their missions were, and

3) how to contact and contribute.

“New ideas = seeds! Maybe there’s a horticulture theme for innovation teams.”  

Timing is everything. 

We required three things to be in place for the launch.  The first was a distribution of white with green package of seeds to every employee.  That was followed by a glossy 530 journal telling more of the new core foundational story.  But, PRERS delayed its distribution.  

During the delay our 530 website, initially banned by their IT department, launched on our servers.  Waiting and waiting for formerly FUD soaked employees to arrive. 

Our strategic intention was about to be activated:

    • IdeaVirus approach: in fits and starts they cross-fertilize and nurture radical new ideas in “small learning experiments”. 
    • To propagate micro-communities around their discoveries, spawn new opportunities, and to infect us with a renewed sense of passion.  
    • And it is “for the rest of us.” To question. To volunteer.  To add to the understanding.    
    • “To find out which ideas have made it off the whiteboard, been placed into practice, and are being tested to see what works and what doesn’t.”  
    • “So teams, what have you been working on, what have you discovered, and how can we help?”


“3”  Steve Zahn, 51:Sometimes you treat everyone the same, and other times it feels right to be more flexible, taking your lead from the needs of those around you. You’ll be somewhere in the middle today, consistent but ready to adjust.” Scorpio

I hear you.  I used to take people at face value, except for all of the degree of decisiveness that has permeated almost everything.  Why must everything be so politicalized?

Random ones that make me want change my sign.

“4”  Steve Winwood, 71; Stevie Wonder, 69; Stephen Colbert, 56: “Here you are, unready and in a position to choose. You don’t even have enough data to make an educated guess, although, in a strange way, you’re at an advantage with this, forced to rely only on your gut.”  Taurus

Intuition and instincts.  For some people choices made on them alone only bring more poor choices.  For others educated guesses work.  For everyone, we’re hardly ever ready for a lot of what life throws at us, like this pandemic for instance.

“3”  Steve Smith, 30: “The early days of every relationship and endeavor lay the groundwork for what happens later, which is why it’s so important to reveal some basic truths and establish key expectations on day one.” Gemini

Maybe if I combine yours with coach Kerr’s it will add up to more relevancy. But, aren’t these conflicting TauBits of Wisdom?

“4”  Steve Carrell, 57; Steve Martin, 74; Steve Wozniak, 69: All it takes is a few inquiries, and suddenly, you’re off in a fascinating direction. Go on and get involved, as new influences will spark favorable changes in your day to day.” Leo

So this one seems less suited for me today, and more suited when I was working on the Conclusions chapter in the Tau of Steves Report chronicling my Natural Experiment.

“5”  Steve Greene, 34; Steve Guttenberg, 61:When you give attention, you are giving your life force, which will be spent no matter what, though some ways are more of an investment, and others are just waste.” Virgo

Life force. I like it.  Now the key seems to me as an introvert how to differentiate between energy and directing towards an investment.  Hmm …

“3”  Steve Kerr, 54:In the beginning of a relationship, you’re mainly trying things. You might not see it that way, because the process of getting to know someone is so intuitive. Just know that if it’s not working, you can pivot and try something else.” Libra

I’m not in the beginning of a relationship, pandemic or no, so feel free to steal this one if your intuition says to.

“4”  Steve Aoki, 41: There’s an art to self-discipline. Knowing how far to push yourself is key. If you drive yourself too hard or place too many restrictions on yourself, you’ll rebel. To rebel against yourself is far worse than rebelling against others.” Sagittarius

I agree.  The art of self-discipline organizes moments in which I let the “flow” of writing happen.  But, I also mindful of when the flow begins to trickle and that’s when I force myself to stop and take up another task. 

“4”  Steve Harvey, 62:Just as a story without conflict is barely a story, a day without an obstacle would hardly be worth remembering. At least today’s problem will have you laughing a little.”  Capricorn

This ongoing pandemic obstacle doesn’t leave much room for laughter.  But laughing does ease the feeling of dread.

“5”  Steve Nash, 45:Your mighty purpose today is to make people smile. Indeed, there may be none mightier, or more challenging, considering the moods of some of the people you’ll come across.”  Aquarius

This 530 branding effort hinges on offering a quirky mood-shifting trial for knowledge sharing to work.  Humor couldn’t hurt.

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 4990 to 5060.




    • 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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