ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

July 1998


Creating A Workplace Community

Finding Your Way Through Performance Measurement

A Quality Vacation On The Jersey Shore

The Honda Dirtbusters Cleaned Up In Nashville

Consolidation Processes Save Time, Money And Win Awards


As Goes The Follower, So Goes The Leader
by Peter Block

Off -Target Marketing - Can We Talk
by Bill Brewer


Brief Cases
Business News Briefs

Views for a Change

Book Review


Off-Target Marketing - Can We Talk?

I am a “baby boomer.” I have never been a DINK. Since I have lived in mostly rural areas, I have never been a Yuppie. And unlike many of our readers who are responding to last month’s reader poll with strongly worded opinions, I don’t know how I feel about Gen Xers. In fact, I tend to resent broad-banding labels of any age group, socio-economic group or cultural class. Now I admit in our market-driven society targeting is the name of the game. And if it helps Coke or Phillip Morris to conveniently label one age group—so be it.
The problem is that a label, any label, creates disconnection among people. And in the last quarter of a century labeling seems to be where it’s at for many. Not just in marketing but in our workplaces. We look at colleagues and co-workers by their social style, Myers-Briggs profile or enneagram. Perhaps for greater understanding, but how many times is it a way to dismiss or manipulate difficult people? And in the psychobabble of the late 80s and early 90s, we were all too aware of how “my female child was getting hooked by your male parent causing my normally ENFJ personality to retreat to its secondary position.”
Isn’t there a place for a good venting between two consenting adults every now and then? Granted it should be a venting using the best practices of active listening (which might be just a more subtle way to control the conversation). At least in a venting there is energy, honesty, as ugly as it might be, and real connection.
I work with many so-called Gen Xers. We have our problems connecting as individuals around our work but I am not certain that these problems are generational. We are all, after all, the sum of everything we have seen, done, thought, imagined or experienced. We bring this to any connection we want to make around our work or in our lives. I am not certain that by classifying any group of people as a generation or a social style enhances that connection.
In this issue, Meg Wheatley talks about how difficult it is to connect on a deeply personal level. She admits that we are all struggling with how we account for a whole human being and still get the job done, realizing there is no set answer or method to establish that connection. That’s perhaps why I am skeptical of any classification of another person as actually helping us connect—it’s just too easy. Being born in the 50s as a boomer or the 70s as a Gen Xer just tells us how old we are. But for real connection I want to know what things you have seen, done, thought, imagined or experienced and how that helps us connect around the work we have before us in service to the larger organization. Next month, News for A Change will devote an entire issue on the concept of trust. I would like to know your views on how labels, social styles, etc. enhance or detract from establishing trusting, mutually accountable relationships. And by the way, the results of our reader poll concerning working with Gen Xers will also appear. You still have time to share your thoughts. Visit our website at and respond on line.
You must, however, be eighteen or older.

July '98 News for a Change | Email Editor

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