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Unorganization: The Individual's Handbook


By: Simon David Buckingham



Unorganization: The Individual's Handbook sets out to explain how individuals can thrive in today's unorganized world. With people increasingly unwilling and unable to rely on traditional institutions such as business organizations that once dominated the organized world, there's a pressing need to shift from being "rankers" in hierarchies to becoming self-employed "branders."


This transformation in attitude and activity is achieved by developing "lifestreams." This book explains that process, helping individuals navigate and excel in the unorganized world.


What is a Ranker?


Rankers are individuals who work in traditional hierarchical and less hierarchical organizations as interchangeable units of economic production. They are often those who have subsumed their personal beliefs to those of their employer or never had any views of their own. Few people are born average, but as we accumulate more chains and ties, we spend most of our time organizing and worrying about them.


Rankers are highly conscious of their rank and extremely sensitized to the whims and foibles of those higher up the chain of command. They laugh at their seniors' every joke, whether funny or not. If you find such hyper-sensitized attention-paying disgusting, you probably want to be or are already a brander.


The Core Workforce


The core workforce represents an organization's main knowledge base. These individuals add the most value by developing solutions that meet customer requirements. They generally have careers and are encouraged to stay within the organization through interesting projects that largely determine the organization's overall success. Results achieved rather than hours worked are emphasized because different people work best at different times and in different places.


The Contractual Fringes


The contractual fringes consist of individuals on the edge of organizations who specialize in tasks important but not core to the organization. These include consultants who work with different organizations on a temporary basis, often for specific projects, and then move on to another organization.


The Flexible Labor Force


The flexible labor force comprises individuals who hold multiple jobs across different organizations simultaneously. They relate more to their profession than to any particular organization. These individuals are paid according to their results and cannot be supervised to the same degree as directly employed workers. They are paid as long as the jobs they do are completed within the stipulated time and to the required standard.




Entrepreneurs are more important than ever in the unorganized world, where fewer people can rely on organizations to take most of the risks. The uncertainty that entrepreneurs navigate is a fundamental characteristic of the unorganized world. Today, we are all entrepreneurs to some extent. Being an entrepreneur is all about attitude. You have to believe in something passionately, as there is no such thing as a successful half-hearted entrepreneur.


To thrive as an entrepreneur, you need to live and breathe your business. Turning your hobby into a business is a good idea because you're typically passionate about your non-work interests, having invested time and money in them out of choice. Entrepreneurial success hinges on responsiveness and innovation. This is good news for passionate, focused, committed, and energetic individuals.


Becoming a Brander


Entrepreneurs are "branders." In today’s unorganized world, individuals should be branders—people who think of themselves as brands. It's no longer just products that need a brand identity; every individual needs to develop his or her own brand identity too. Outside of work, nearly everyone is a brand: we dress to express our personality, pursue various interests and hobbies, and engage in different activities with different people.


Becoming a brander involves developing and extending these differences into a way of making a living. Branders live life as if it is a resume, continuously adding qualifications and discoveries, learning, growing, and changing. Branders earn more than transfer earnings because they are in demand and cannot be in two places at once. You have to pay economic rent to persuade special individuals to work for you rather than apply their scarce talents elsewhere.


Rewards for Branders


Rewards paid to branders can take the form of pure cash payments or payments in kind, such as trailers on the studio lot. The size of these rewards depends on the amount of income over and above the economic rent the branders bring in. A unique film director, for instance, cannot direct more than a couple of films at once without the quality of their direction falling. Therefore, a director with unique talent will require payment at least equal to the level of transfer earnings to direct a film rather than pursue another interest, such as writing scripts.


Prerequisites for Small Business Growth


Several prerequisites are necessary for a small business to grow:


1. Talents: What you are good at. People have natural and acquired aptitudes for different things, such as drawing, writing, learning languages, or playing musical instruments.


2. Interests: What you enjoy spending your time doing. People have diverse interests, from digging up old bones to keeping fit. We should respect and encourage these different interests, as they equip us to meet the diverse challenges of the unorganized world.


We should dedicate most of our time and energy to our passions. Passionate individuals are more likely to succeed in their own businesses because they are genuinely interested in their work.


Developing Unique Selling Points (USPs)


Branders cultivate the differences that make them special. In the organized world, being average and ordinary was often encouraged and rewarded. However, in the unorganized world, being different is essential to being invited into and valued in dynamic interactions.


All individuals are unique, and we each have a responsibility to cultivate our differences when trying to live a fulfilled life. Emphasizing these differences rather than suppressing them is crucial. While we all share basic needs like sleep and food, beyond this common core, we should develop different skills, opinions, and interests.


Essential Components for Business Success


1. A Product or Service: Develop something unique in the marketplace, aimed at a different part of the market, or better than the market leader. Service your products and productize your services.


2. A Brand Presence: Individuals, like companies and products, must have a brand presence. Otherwise, they are rankers—interchangeable units of economic production with no options and no leverage. People want to partner with those who have unique knowledge or capabilities.


3. Networks of Contacts: The more people you can call upon, the better. Never miss an opportunity to exchange business cards. When assessing someone's capability, consider future applicability for other projects, not just current opportunities.


4. An Internet Presence: Have a professional-looking home page on the World Wide Web and an email address for easy contact. An online presence allows potential customers to find you first.


5. Use of Technology: Equip yourself with necessary technologies, such as a mobile phone, an Internet browser, email account, and a laptop. These tools help you stay connected and productive.


6. Business Alliances: Form partnerships with individuals and companies that have complementary skills and goals. Such alliances add value through customer support, equipment loans, industry insights, and networking opportunities.


7. Multiple Choices: Ensure you have multiple choices in customers, sources of finance, ideas, and talents. Job security today is about having choices and the ability to reinvent oneself in another role, firm, or industry.


Personality Traits of Rankers


Branders should exhibit qualities that maximize their chances of success in the unorganized world, whereas rankers should avoid these traits to survive in organized organizations that value compliance. Key traits for branders include:


1. Honesty: This supports individual and organizational change and learning. Honesty involves listening to your heart's responses to events and working out why you felt that way. Learning from these insights leads to positive change.


2. Charisma: A brander combines knowledge and ideas with communication and networking skills. Charisma helps convey ideas effectively, though it must be balanced with solid ideas.


3. Positive Thinking: Branders maintain a positive mental attitude, looking on the bright side of life. Enthusiasm and passion persuade others and help overcome challenges.


4. Openness to Diversity: Branders welcome new people, technologies, and ideas. They enjoy other cultures and compare different ways of doing things around the world.


5. Adaptability: Attitude is paramount. Successful individuals enact their ideas and make efforts to achieve their goals. Attitude determines success or failure more than ever before.


Flaws in Organized Business Organizations


Organized business organizations have fundamental flaws that prevent them from operating optimally. These flaws include bounded rationality, dependence, use of force, and excessive busyness. These shortcomings slow down organized organizations and allow more dynamic entities to compete successfully.


Employees in traditional organizations are not directly rewarded for effort or initiative, leading to mediocre performance. Standards are only excellent when intrinsic rewards, such as pride and satisfaction, are present.


Use of Fundamental Forces


To overcome the flaws of organized organizations, we need to introduce dynamic incentives that reward individuals for the value they add. Market-based transactions ensure optimal and accurate incentives, motivating individuals to meet and exceed customer expectations.


Use of Liberty


Liberty can be categorized into four types: Lean Liberty, Fat Slavery, Lean Slavery, and Fat Liberty.


1. Lean Liberty: Characterized by minimal government welfare programs, requiring individuals to fend for themselves. This situation resembles early America, where everyone had the opportunity and necessity to succeed independently.


2. Fat Slavery: Represents a civilization where large institutions provide everything for citizens and employees, discouraging initiative and encouraging compliance. Scandinavian welfare models exemplify Fat Slavery.


3. Lean Slavery: A transitional state where individuals suffer from the flaws of organized systems without receiving significant benefits in return. Both large governments and organizations fail to deliver promised improvements.


4. Fat Liberty: Combines individual freedom with prosperity. Individuals who develop multiple life streams and think of themselves as brands can achieve Fat Liberty. This status offers autonomy, independence, and wealth 


Eventually, Individuals


Individuals form the backbone of any organization. Understanding and valuing individual differences is essential for creating a productive and harmonious work environment. Managers play a critical role in recognizing and harnessing these differences to achieve organizational goals. Emphasizing individuality and promoting diversity enhances team performance and contributes to the organization's overall success.


By fostering an inclusive environment and developing strong relationships, organizations can unlock the full potential of their diverse workforce. In the unorganized world, where traditional structures are less reliable, individuals must adapt by becoming branders, cultivating their unique qualities, and leveraging opportunities. The goal is to achieve Fat Liberty, combining freedom and prosperity for a fulfilling and successful life.

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