On brand loyalty too far

Michael Schrage has written a provoking piece on whether firms will push employees to live brand values into their private, non-work lives. He elaborates in one of the comments:

… if a walmart employee and supplier won’t live the brand commitment by using cfd’s and being a ‘good citizen,’ is walmart entitled to ‘discriminate’ by not offering promotions, bonuses, good reviews, etc….?

… if an employee of an ‘equal rights/diversity’ championing firm is a member of a private club that excludes women and minorities, can the firm choose not to promote that employee – or even fire him?

The issue that such a  practice could be an invasion of privacy, or unconstitutional, is raised in the article comments but coming from the US, and the commenters being apparently US-based, I would submit that the view of the workplace as being unregulated is very much a US concept. In more regulated work conditions, such as those in South Africa and several European countries, employment conditions and terms would prevent an employer from forcing its values into areas outside the workplace.

On a different note, the kind of work environment that Schrage envisages sounds more like a ‘Stepford Wives’ community, one which values conformity above everything. The problem with conformity in today’s world is that it does not encourage originality, and it is difference and originality that provides the opportunity for innovation.

Is Schrage’s article really serious, or just a clever argument designed to ridicule the possibility of someone actually coming up with such a proposition?

More on the new decade – Facebookisation

After my previous blog, I re-discovered JP Rangaswami’s Confused of Calcutta blog (although he should consider using the newer name, Kolkata). What got my interest was the series of blogs on the ‘Facebookisation of the enterprise’.

In the first part – The Facebookisation of the enterprise – he describes how a business

“needs to look a bit like Facebook. Responsible for identifying, authenticating and permissioning people, making sure that appropriate controls are in place from a privacy and confidentiality perspective. Responsible for providing an environment, a platform, for people to congregate electronically. A marketplace, a bazaar. A place where people converse with each other, share their interests, identify inventories, discover prices, negotiate, trade. A place where the things that need to be recorded get recorded, as in everyday life.

This is reflects the world that Generation M, or Millennials experience through technology and social interaction (read this to learn about generational theory). As they move into the enterprise, how will they change the world of work to match their attitudes and expectations?

In the new world, the worker would have the choice of device, platform, and applications. It would also mean that IT and HR would lose their traditional control over the employee.

In the second part – More on the Facebookisation of the enterprise – he discusses how IT would need to operate to support this work environment by providing:

  • simple self-service signup
  • a set of directories and tools to classify and filter them
  • a range of communication and scheduling tools
  • a platform for development

I think something else should be added – access to a library of in-house and external applications which the worker could use to do get their job done.

While the Facebook analogy is a bit far-fetched, if not revolutionary, it’s a good place to start thinking about the direction in which IT should be moving.