When Uber, the ride-on-demand business growing across the world, had a problem, didn’t call management consultants, but a political campaigner/social movement creator/grassroots manager.
Traditional management consulting needs rebooting. Particularly in the organizational and people area, the traditional management consulting mode is exhausted. It needs serious rebooting . Today, 2015, the answer to many organizational issues, employee engagements, large scale people mobilization, cultural change etc. lies outside the traditional management disciplines, the old HR frameworks and the standard HR industry.
I have relentlessly pointed out (and will continue to do so) and applied in my own company in the way we work with clients, that business executives will learn more form political marketing, political campaigning and social movements than Harvard-like approaches. Community Organizing 1, Harvard nil. Sorry.
Uber had problems last summer: Reputation in bad shape, upsetting taxi driver companies in multiple cities across the world, disrupting urban transportation like hell, being banned in many cities. CEO Travis Kalanick’s ‘style’ did not help. And the company was a Goldman Sachs-backed. Market value equal to USD 40 billion.
So who did they call? McKinsey? No, let me guess, PWC, or perhaps Bain. Wrong. They called David Plouffe, the Obama campaign architect and then 2 year adviser in the White House.
(And one of the things he did in month one was to launch UberMilitary, ‘a commitment to turn 50,000 members of the military community into Uber drivers’)
This ‘Daily Thought’ is not about Uber – the story is explained here very well. It is about the change in direction for the call. You may think that David Plouffe was called to deal with the PR and reputation aspects. Indeed he took that. But his role is much broader, the entire strategy, branding and ‘management’ of the company. He is treating the situation, and Uber corporate development, as a social movement, a political campaign, not an MBA case study. Porter’s Five Forces? Not really. The force of large scale change and mobilization.
We are going to see more of this.
The answers to organizational problems in large and medium size companies lie outside the standard management framework. I started this ‘officially’ in 2006 with Viral Change™ ( and ‘unofficially’ in 2001) and the approach is now reaching some maturity in industries such as pharmaceuticals, transportation, oil and gas, financial services and public services.
Social movement/political mobilization/Viral Change 1, Harvard MBA/Traditional management nil.
The series continue.