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Ubers, Piano Bars, And Your Organization


Ever left something behind in an airline seat pocket, a taxi, or an Uber?

Thought so.

Recently, Uber put out a list of the most common (keys, eyeglasses, wallets, etc) and the most unusual items left behind in their cars. Here are a few items actual people left behind in actual Ubers:

  • A lobster
  • Smoke machine
  • Laser
  • Bulletproof vest
  • Charcoal grill
  • Superman cape

You might imagine there is a story behind each of these!

(We hope the loss of the Superman cape didn’t thwart an important rescue. “Look to the sky…there’s…oops”).

The same is true for the things that organizations leave behind.

In the early, golden days of air travel, American Airlines’ 747s had a piano bar onboard.

No kidding. Here’s the proof:

These days you’re lucky to have adequate legroom.

What we leave behind says much about who we are. But what we make sure to keep says a lot as well.

When you are leading organizational change, particularly if it involves crafting a new organizational culture, it’s usually easy to see what you should leave behind.

  • Outdated assumptions
  • Obsolete processes
  • Ineffective strategies
  • Outmoded traditions
  • Uninspiring visions
  • Unaligned values

It’s harder to discern what you should keep. But those decisions are equally important.

The process of leading change by crafting a thriving organizational culture requires walking the tightrope between “preserving the core” (in the words of the writer Jim Collins) and making bold decisions to throw off things that are harmful to your new way of living as an organization.

Fail to make the big changes and you risk your entire change initiative being choked out.

Fail to preserve the important things and you risk damaging morale and violating the essential DNA of your organization.

What do you need to get rid of as a leader?

And what is worth fighting to preserve?