Monday, September 22, 2008


Identity is fixed, transcending time and place, while its manifestations are constantlychanging.

• The Law of Will To truly live, I must express myself fullyEvery organization is compelled by the need to create value in accordance with itsidentity.

• The Law of Possibility and in this regard have much to giveIdentity foreshadows potential

• The Law of Relationship To do so I need others, and am most productive withthose who need me in return.Organizations are inherently relational, and those relationships are only as strong as thenatural alignment between the identities of the participants.

• The Law of Comprehension To establish these relationships, I must first berecognized for who I am.The individual capacities of an organization are only as valuable as the perceived valueof the whole of that organization.

• The Law of the Cycle and it follows then that I will receive in accordance with what I give.
Identity governs value, which produces wealth, which fuels identity.

The Law of Being

Case in point: ALCOA

Mission: To be the best aluminum company in the world.

Background: In the midst of diversification, the company simultaneously sought a return to its core identity - that of an outstanding aluminum company - a leader in its industry.

Lesson: No company that aspires to lead its market or industry can hope to do so without a mission that ties it’s own welfare to that of the society’s.

Communicating this mission fires up employees, giving them the passion for their work, the meaning that transcends mere profit.
How to strip away the layers to reveal Alcoa’s true identity:From reading between the lines of executive speeches, existing company literature, to probing corporate history, this author conducted in-depth interviews and analysis to find out what makes Alcoa what it is.
How to see 55,000 employees as one individual with unique skills and capabilities was anotherquestion.
The unbearable lightness of ‘being’
Alcoa was truly alive in the sense that it’s R & D, engineering and marketing arms were hummingwith energy and life. Alcoa had its heart in a patented process. The company built customersupport by effectively “packaging” information as a means of establishing authority in the field ofaluminum. Enter an Alcoa client’s office and you see shelves filled with a library of customereducation materials.
This author realized that the transformations needed for Alcoa people to be more receptive tochange were technological, product-oriented, market-oriented, and societal.
Value flows upstream.

• No matter where you are on the value chain, as provider of raw materials, manufacturer,or distributor, your identity draws its strength from the contribution you make to the life ofthe end-user.

• When people are aligned with the right organization, they are liberated to become whothey naturally are.Alcoa’s identity action plan was basically diversification and decentralization.A view to leadership

• The characteristics of Alcoa that set it apart were its synchronization, core competencies,and longevity or maturity as a company.

• The synchronization or “grand efficiency” lies in all the different parts of the organizationworking in synch.

• Its integrity lies in the social value it offers while making a profit. (Aluminum is a durableand practical material used in all types of products)

• Endurance refers to its 100-year history through the ups and downs of markets.In essence, companies are alive, and the Law of Being implies that this life can be seen ashaving several levels.

• A human value – referring to the workforce or individuals who make up the company
• A business value – in terms of the company’s distinctive contribution to the marketplacesuch as products and services that flow from and reinforce identity

• A societal value – or how it brings about social improvement in terms of transportation,food preservation, and energy

• An economic value – referring to its stock price value over time, and portfolio turnover.
“All of us also have the capacity to know our own potential – to live rather thanmerely exist.”

The Law of Individuality

Live according to who you are.

Think of this as a test of self-knowledge.

Case in point: Fidelity Investments

Two rooms. One is Ned Johnson’s elegant executive suite full of antique furniture and orientalcarpets, the other is the functional chart room where walls are papered with printouts of DowJones averages, s & p’s and statistics that are the business world’s equivalent to Morse code.
These two rooms were a representation of Fidelity’s identity: clinical accuracy alongside symbolsof prosperity, rational thinking alongside timeless beauty, and the tension between the two roomswas where the Fidelity identity could be found.
It could be outlined in private ownership as a passport to freedom, the focus on innovation andinvention, empowerment through personal judgment, and an organic cellular structure unlikeother rigid organizational structures.
Fidelity’s business is celebrating individuality.Identity action plan:

• All employees must reinforce the one-fidelity approach, emphasizing individualism

• Recruiting people who understand individualism and apply them to all aspects ofcustomer relationships.

• Instituting customer relations awards for outstanding service representatives.

• Turning Fidelity’s investor centers into full-service, storefront investment operations, with knowledgeable staff, touch-screen computers, and educational programs for first-timeinvestors as well as experienced and sophisticated ones.

• Conducting research to find out how many customers had personal computers andmodems then developing an on-line database that would provide daily fund net assetvalues and other fund information to strengthen the bond between the investor and theinstitution.

The Law of Constancy

Case in point: Korn/Ferry International

Here the author faced an executive search firm that was searching for it’s own identity. Hediscovered that the dominant identity was that of its leadership in the form of Richard Ferry, andfor the company to make the transition to Korn/Ferry would require:

• Identifying and codifying the vital characteristics the founder had instilled in thebeginning.

• Simultaneously allowing the individual himself to recede but not to be lost as the firmgrew and evolved.

• Disallowing new managers to devise strategy that turned a blind eye to the past,especially to identity-based strengths that link the past to the future

• Encouraging growth that would add to and refresh the vision of the founder

To be Contd.

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