This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

January 13, 1999

Treat me special!

The grammar may not be what Miss Hardy would have liked, but the phrase conveys the message. "I am unique! I want unique experiences. I want special treatment! I want to be different."

There’s a subtle change underway in today’s American society. With the speed of global communications, human mobility, and a sense of searching, this shift will soon be felt internationally.

We’re moving, relatively quickly, from the Era of the Mass Marketing to the Era of the Individual, using mass customization and micro marketing. Lines at retail stores are being avoided by on-line shopping—no waiting. Standardized pay plans are yielding to custom-designed compensation packages. Group involvement is being replaced with solitude and intimate gatherings.

In the work environment, employees seek opportunities to shine individually, even while collaborating with others. They don’t necessarily want to be independent, but they want to be acknowledged for their individual accomplishments . . . their individual contributions. They want to be accountable, giving rise to a vital new aspect of the concept of empowerment. If people don’t believe they can find this opportunity working for you or someone else, they’ll go out on their own. Have you noticed the increase in new business formation by driven energetic entrepreneurs? They’re looking for more than just money.

Military and para-military organizations will be challenged by these "treat-me-special" people. They’ll resist conformity . . . if they join in the first place. There’s an important message here for all organizations that operate with authoritarian cultures. It will be increasingly difficult to manage with a rules and bureaucracy philosophy; workers will expect—demand—greater flexibility, freedom, and personal opportunity.

These special treatment attitudes will be evident in all areas of our lives. We already see movie theatres offering special services—valet parking, dinners, and special seating for a modestly higher price. The trend has already been in place in the sporting events field. Concierge and personal shopping services abound.

The future will be filled with opportunities to cater to peoples’ desires to feel special—in employment, shopping, education, service, and more. In subsequent Trend Alerts, we’ll explore how to make people feel special in the workplace, in stores, in education, etc.

© Copyright 1998- by The Herman Group, Inc. -- reproduction for publication is encouraged, with the following attribution: From "The Herman Trend Alert," by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. 336-210-3548 or To sign up, visit The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group, Inc."

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