Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Citizen, vassal, ally: Buttering the bread

Companies are small or large pools of influence that ooze over each other in cooperation or competition. Many swamp creatures inhabit these pools and the spaces between, yet some are oblivious to the relationship. I'm here to clear up your misunderstanding: life revolves around these ponds.

You're hired as a telecommuter or consultant. You pride yourself on your Lone Ranger status, free to set your own schedule, make your own rules. You're outside the establishment. You're also a vassal, with fewer rights and more demands from the city-state.
Corporate Ponds of Competition
You walk into Target. Walk into Trader Joe's. Walk into a boutique fashion shop. You passed their portals because you've absorbed some of their mission, you believe they have a valuable service to offer, and you partake of their offerings and ally yourself with these companies, among friends or against critics.

Citizens soak up all of the corporate culture. They're there every day, breathing in the messages about how to dress, how to play politics, how to speak, where corners may be cut and what intolerable failure looks like. Vassals struggle to absorb some of the culture, they know that survival depends on identifying with the paying client, but they can't quite get it without the total immersion citizens have. Allies see a very superficial aspect of the culture, and might respond to it temporarily - don't we all become more polite and helpful on entering Trader Joe's? Gearheads when visiting Best Buy?
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