The ride-hailing start-up managed to disrupt a whole industry and grow globally, despite the push-back from the traditional players.
That was then.
More recently, that wild-west ethos got it burdened with myriad lawsuits, federal probes, mounting regulation, and loss of brand equity.
Another outcome was that its founder Travis Kalanick had been forced out. Since he won't stay out and is doing board-tampering, governance has again emerged as a major business issue.
No surprise, early in his game, current Uber chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi has announced new "cultural norms." In TechCrunch, Megan Rose Dickey reports that there are 8 of them:
We build globally, we live locally.
We are customer obsessed.
We celebrate differences.
We do the right thing. Period.
We act like owners.
We value ideas over hierarchy.
We make big bold bets.
Sounds good. The challenge is implementing them.
That was exactly what the once-rigid IBM had to do in the early 1990s. Microsoft was eating its lunch. And Apple was strengthening as a competitor.
Outsider Lou Gerstner Jr. was parachuted in. He describes how he blew up the old IBM culture and put together another one in the book "Who Says Elephants Can't Dance." A major part of achieving the needed overhaul was re-engineering the workplace so that those who couldn't or wouldn't board that new train felt they had no choice but to leave.
Likely, Uber will also experience the voluntary flight of the old-line gun slingers. Since they will be initiating their own departure, the company won't have the expense of severance packages.
Meanwhile, though, we can expect to witness conflict with a new order struggling to be born and the Kalanick loyalists. Members of the media will love that.
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