What’s new in the world of brand and culture?  What’s the latest scoop on companies like Uber, Salesforce, and others featured in FUSION?  Check out the updates below.

Although March 13, 2018 is the publication date for FUSION, I had to submit the manuscript for the book back in September, 2017.  Since the business landscape is always evolving and new developments arise every day, I want to report on what’s happened with the organizations and on the topics covered in the book in the meantime — and continue to keep you updated with the latest insights and news.

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The Inside Scoop on the Fall of Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick — 01.25.18

Bloomberg Businessweek writers Brad Stone and Eric Newcomer describe what happened behind the scenes that led to the departure of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick from the company he co-founded and led.

Photo Credit: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The blow-by-blow recap is pretty fascinating in and of itself, but it also reveals some points relevant to FUSION, and the lack thereof, at Uber:

  • Early on, company executives had conducted research on people’s perceptions of Uber. They presented Kalanick with the conclusion: “the company had a major problem: him” and “Uber’s riders and drivers viewed the company as made up of a bunch of greedy, self-centered jerks.”  He “retorted that the company had a public-relations problem, not a cultural one.”

Kalanick’s comment reveals how he, and many other business leaders, fail to understand how these days a cultural problem can easily become an image problem — and ultimately a real business problem.  People now have the ability — and the proclivity — to scrutinize how companies operate. They can see for themselves whether or not a business aligns with their perceptions of it, and their own personal values, and make their purchase decisions on their judgment.  That’s why it’s critically important for business leader to ensure there is no disconnect between how they want their company to be perceived and how it really operates.

This is what FUSION is all about.  Check out the Introduction chapter for free to learn more about why and how to integrate and align your brand and culture.

  • After months of further recklessness, the company did another survey. They found that, on a question about perceptions of business leaders, Kalanick ranked last among tech CEOs and only slightly above the CEOs of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co.  Stone and Newcomer report, “Employee morale was falling along with the CEO’s reputation.”  And one executive observed, “Until 2017, you could go into Uber on any given day and half the T-shirts were Uber T-shirts.  They disappeared overnight. People didn’t want to wear Uber stuff.”

This describes the incredible influence an organization’s leaders have on its culture — it really can’t be over-stated.  It also should be noted that while morale was following the Kalanick’s decline, Uber’s financial performance also began to suffer.  It’s no coincidence that rider growth rate slowed compared to Lyft, losses continued, and the company is now valued at 30% lower than it once was.  Leadership and culture crises can cause real damage to a business.

Read about how culture is a strategic management responsibility in Chapter 3 of FUSIONLead the Change.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff Speaks Out on Silicon Valley’s Culture Crisis — 01.25.18

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff sat for an interview with FT columnist Rana Foroohar and offered thoughts about the culture crisis that seems to be looming over Silicon Valley.

Photo credit: Jakub Mosur Photography

His remarks included a very telling observation:  “I mentor a lot of CEOs and entrepreneurs and when I see that product is the number-one thing,” he said.  “The only thing that matters, that’s a real red flag.”  Benioff explained that the focus on product to the exclusion of all else is something that tends to accompany poor leadership behavior.  He speaks with credibility on the issue.  He’s put the values and culture of his organization first and that has enabled Salesforce to grow as successfully as it has and Benioff to avoid the negative image that most tech CEOs have had to grapple with lately.

Learn more about Salesforce in Chapter 6 of FUSIONSweat the Small Stuff.

The article also reports on the new Salesforce Tower in downtown San Francisco, which is now the tallest building west of Chicago.  The building includes an “Ohana” floor (“family” in Hawaiian) which is intended for use as “a company-wide hang-out and venue for non-profits to use in the evening and at weekends.”  Benioff explains the floor saying, “I just want this to be something more open — this can’t be just one person’s experience, everyone needs to be able to come here.” The floor is the newest artifact that Salesforce has created to commemorate and advance its Ohana culture.

Chapter 6 of FUSION explains how artifacts and rituals serve as “memory triggers” of your desired culture and the daily behaviors you expect from employees.

Check back soon for more FUSION updates.