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December 14, 2016


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You've identified something important about organizational life here, David. It was more than only economic change, I think. A cultural change occurred as well, and I began to see it as early as the late 1990s. It became increasingly difficult to say anything without offending someone, even the most innocuous stuff. Part of it was what I might call "organizational identity politics," but it was more complex than that, and rooted, I suspect, in the change in the "organizational contract" that started in the early 1980s.

Glynn, tell me more about "organizational identity politics." There WAS the whole corporate diversity thing in the early 1990s, where everyone had to go through sensitivity training about gender, race, disability and culture. A necessary backlash, no doubt, against the years of the Mad Men stuff. But everybody got scared of new HR rules that they didn't understand—and life got confusing.

I wonder how that connects, or whether it does, with the death of the debates in communication circles—which were mostly middle-aged white folks anyway. Why did we suddenly lose our drive or our nerve to have professional conversations?

For what it's worth, I still see this kind of debate happening. It's confined to LinkedIn, though. Michael Rudnick and I have been going back and forth on whether intranet relaunches should focus on mobile-first. We're arguing our positions civilly. However, Facebook recently has been littered with the same shrill political BS that characterizes Facebook these days. I fear the ability to have collegial disagreements won't be long for this world.

Shel, did you mean to say LinkedIn has been filled with shrill nonnsense these days!? As for that argument, I'll leave that to a couple of fellas who have been at it since communicators sat in your seminars, gaped at the screens and asked, "Is that the Internet?"

Yeah, that's what I meant to say.

Well that seems nutty. I'm all for open argument but carrying on about politics on LinkedIn seems akin to putting your party affiliation on your resume. An employer could be forgiven for doubting your discretion.

Apparently the only place we will withhold our feelings these days is the bosom of our families!

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