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November 27, 2006


Hans Suter

More than one research I've heard of says that newspapers don't sway readers' opinions, only the extremes become slightly more extreme. So Dobbs at CNN or Krauthammer at WaPo add to the magnaminity of the brand: let many speak their mind.

Len Bullard

Culture is a difficult problem. So much depends on the initial culture of the founders and how that carries forward to succeeding generations. The saying is, "As the twig is bent, so grows the tree." The web itself is wrestling with the problems of laissez faire approaches in its initial fielding, the sayings like "Information wants to be free" that were translated into "anything I can digitize and put on a web site is the world's for the taking" and other problems such as the now weakening statndards organizations.

But for companies, this is much harder if the leadership changes can't affect the core values bred into the thinking at the beginning. Companies announce 'new initiatives', 'now, next, after next' and so on but these are just phrases. If the actions of the leaders are to enrich themselves at the expense of the company, the company will follow accordingly.

A lot of credit is given to GE's Jack Welch for the new generation of money machine thinking managers. Yet Neutron Jack, as he was known, also had a devastating effect on the quality of GE products that the company is only now recovering from. The problems of GE Ill Wind became text book studies for HR managers. In some companies, they learned the lesson that there was one set of rules for all or there are no rules. In others, they learned to cover risky behavior more effectively and meanly. Neither goes out of business. Some go private.

It is well to talk of the values that a company has because the value of the values is that nothing else has so much affect on the bottom line profitability as the knowledge that the slogans on the brochure really are the words to live by. Simple rules applied consistently in companies work as well as they do with children and for the same reason: trust. But if the rules are not the same in the executive suite as they are on the production line, they are worse than lies, they are as the diplomat says in Lawrence of Arabia, "Half truths and a man that tells half-truths is worse because he doesn't know where the truth is."

When that is the honest and correct evaluation of a culture, it is best to take your business elsewhere or get ready to spend too much time on dispositions, indemnity and liquidation. Law is the last resort of the desperate over the valueless. Negotiation to a validatible understanding is the first. Trust is what happens between these two extremes.


The soul of a business keeps a long-lasting memory of its founder. As a student, I spent 3 months at IBM in France and the first thing that struck me was the constant reference to Tom Watson, the founder.
To understand the soul of a business, one must go back to the original intention. What you find is a founder with a strong determination focused on a product or an activity. The link between product and "soul" of the business is still underestimated.
The Wikipedia definition is a classical one, in particular when it says a business is meant "usually to generate revenue". Increasing evidence indicates that the deep motivation of an entrepreneur is to achieve an idea. Entrepreneurs are much less money-driven than one thinks. Profit is not their primary goal, it is a requirement of a global system.
For that reason one can only agree with what you say : "the soul and very essence of a business, especially a globally integrated business, lies in its people, culture and brand". But "people" do not create the soul of the business. What they do is to collectively keep the memory of a founder (values, meaning, conceptions ...) alive by acting according to what he or she settled in the beginning. I call it a "meaning capital". You can change whatever you like in a company, you will never get rid of this capital, what you actually call the "soul".


I think Lou Dobbs is a has-been knuckle-head, wrong in most respects in his views on trade, etc, but the brand of a media company is far more than the political or economic opinions of its journalists. In fact, I would argue that the ability to hold, tolerate and promote contrary views of different journalists under its single roof is the mass media company's core competency, and what their consumers most highly value.

We need diversity of opinion from mass media so that we all become better educated and more aware. Even though I disagree with Dobbs, I too benefit from hearing him (yes, really): it sharpens my own opposing views. He makes me work harder to articulate why I hold the views I do, and to better able debate with those who disagree with me. This is the foundation of any civil society. I would hate to think of those who share his views being cast aside because their views don't accord with the marketing department's brand gestapo, or with those of the proprietor. No matter how you look at it Irving, what you proposed is censorship, plain and simple.


PS To test if I'm right, ask yourself whether your personal brand is damaged by me disagreeing with you, and using the term "knuckle-head" to describe Lou Dobbs in line one. :)

Makio Yamazaki


Thank you for your nine blog.
I rememberd the introduction of the book, "Learning Organization"(Peter Senge).
Now, the time one great executive was the leader had gone,
amd the way of surviving(competitions) the company would have the art concentrates the conation, the creativity of all members, cooperating power.

It would be true that the business process, the human resources, and
IT(Information Technologies) would be important,
but to share the values would be more, I mean.

Because the soul and the brand would be alive. The team("One team") should keep it and grow it.

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