Recipe for Failure

Recently, I came across this evaluation of a post-acquisition effort to integrate managers of an acquired company into the culture of the buying company. The author has decades of experience in organizational development and training and, one imagines, has contributed to and participated in hundreds if not thousands of corporate culture and change exercises. This particular one caught his attention for being — his word — “sadistic“.

Here’s how the consultants spent the four days familiarizing the managers with ‘the way we do things around here’ in their new company:

– Provoking and pushing people to see how long it would take to break them, in front of their peers.
– Insulting and belittling people.
– Embarrassing people.
– Putting people on the spot repeatedly and uncomfortably.
– Telling people they did not have what it takes and would not make it in the new company.

In retrospect, the author believed the consultants had been sent in to “test us … in such an aggressive manner that the weak would wash out and only the strong would survive.”

If so, the consultants surely failed because an organizational culture that belittles, pushes, breaks, insults, embarrasses and destroys confidence is one in which only the weak survive. Strong people and strong leaders do not do these things. Bullies do. But not strong people.

Posted by Doug Smith on December 31, 2005 05:46 PM | Permalink

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Tracked on January 27, 2006 09:24 AM


Hi Doug

What you call a “recipe for failure,” they see as their model of leadership excellence. Strange but true.

You hit the nail on the head with the term “bullies.”

Out of curiosity, how did you find my blog, “Here We Are. Now What?” Anyway, I’m glad you did.

Happy New Year!


Posted by: Terrence Seamon | January 2, 2006 01:28 AM

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