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UPS looks back to go forward

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Any leader who hopes to take an organization forward really does need an understanding of its past. History matters to group culture, identity and motivation. In times of crisis, a proud tradition can be summoned up to reinforce employees’ dedication.

In the late 1990s, UPS executives realized that the company’s model wasn’t working. To explain large-scale innovations, they turned to breakthroughs of the past: from bicycle deliveries to trucks, from ground service to air freight, from paper tracking to a web-based system.  

“Yes, it’s new and it’s different and it’s tough and it’s a change,” then-CEO Jim Kelly said over and over. “But that’s OK. We’ve done that successfully for many years.”

— Adapted from “Your Company’s History as a Leadership Tool,” John Seaman Jr. and George David Smith, Harvard Business Review.

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