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One of us or one of them? Better to be an army of one – and bill for the rest

Lot of stuff in the literature about belonging. “It is a fundamental human need to belong” – that’s a quote

[note: quoting in italics and between quote marks is a best practice]

that this badconsultant heard a number of years back and just retrieved from our knowledge management database

[note: it’s your KM database, don’t quote the original author… Unless they know you, or have your address, or are on an interview panel you will face in the near future]

So, our topic of consideration today has been belonging.

And why in so many organizations, it is so difficult to feel anything other than antipathy to the concept of belonging.



Pause… Look at audience… Nod knowingly, you know what’s in their heads.

Why on earth would any of us want to belong to the modern corporation. Shrivelled souls… ahem, executives, protecting their empires and feathering their nests while spouting change for everyone else.


Communities exist upon norms, upon the expectation that desirable behaviour will be rewarded/accepted and that undesirable behaviour will be penalized. Obviously, what is desirable is defined by the group mindset-visionthink… Er… Freud said that, right, er…

[Note: When your true colours begin to shine through, use exit strategy numero uno]

… That is what the Human Resources department would have you think!

[Note: See, it works]

However, our comprehensive studies of companies and psychological frameworks, proves that desirable behaviour is actually defined by group norms.

And therein, as per Shakespeare…

[Pause. You just quoted someone. Check the shortlist. Does he know you? No. Does he know where you live? No. On an interview panel in the near future? No. OK, you’re clear to progress.]

… lies the rub. Because norms don’t apply to executives. They create the norms. Therefore, the next time you hear of a call to belong to the future, ask yourself the following, trademarked, copywritten question:

“Don’t you have anything better to do right now?”(TM)(R)(C)

No, sorry, that wasn’t it. It was:

“Right now, who is defining what this company is about?”(TM)(R)(C)

And if the answer isn’t the person sitting right next to you, and the person looking at you in the mirror, think carefully before you sign up to the plan. If you hear that it’s worth belonging to the company because some executive you’ve never met, at some distant location that might as well have been subject of fanfares and orcs in Lord of the Rings…

[Note: great movies, watch them on your laptop during project team presentations]

… is like rilly, rilly making change happen, then respectfully pause, look out a window and say “I’m in!” while mentally you tot up how many months’ worth of salary will get you to the Caribbean.

Belonging indeed. Sheesh!