In business school classrooms they construct beautiful models of a non-world. (Peter Drucker, 1909-2005)

It’s easy to dismiss Peter Drucker’s comment about the divide between the hypothetical world of business school and the pragmatic world of actual business as just so much curmudgeonly skepticism. But when institutions as prestigious as the Wharton School publish articles like this, glorifying the obvious in language so obtuse it’s all but meaningless, you really have to wonder.

Consider Exhibits A through D, excerpted from the article, and their respective translations:

Exhibit A: “Many senior executives focus their attention on the financial aspects of a merger and fail to consider their psychological implications … the ‘new’ merger math has two pieces to it — economic synergy and psychological synergy.”

Translation: People who worked here and suddenly find themselves working there will be disoriented.

Exhibit B: “Integration cannot succeed before employees of the merged entity feel a sense of belonging to a single enterprise with which they can identify and to which they are motivated to contribute.”

Translation: Mergers and acquisitions notwithstanding, tell people what the hell’s going on.

Exhibit C: “When the two organizations have served different customer segments that have different service needs … deeply embedded organizational routines and their psychological consequences may get in the way.”

Translation: People form habits and may come unglued if those habits are disrupted or changed.

Exhibit D: “Executives also can become so caught up in selling the merger to external audiences, such as stockholders and the public, that they forget about gathering support internally.”

Translation: Valuations, revenues, profits, stock prices, balance sheets, EBITDA, et al. don’t even exist without people.

Here’s the deal: Since they reflect and inform your brand every day, your employees ARE your identity. If they aren’t valued, coached, nurtured, brought along, recognized, rewarded, and allowed to connect with the brand in their own ways, in their own jobs, there is no identity because the brand has no reflection in the people who serve it.

Do they teach that in business school? Apparently not in this world.

Image by geralt, courtesy of