The Infected Organization: “Corpz” Exposure


Max Brooks’ 2006 novel, World War Z: An oral history of the zombie war presents an account of life in a post-apocalyptic world, from the perspective of those who lived through the experience.  In the world [earth] of which Brooks speaks, there are people who, whether by personal preparedness, or pure chance, survived the apocalypse unscathed, and there are also those less fortunate, who were infected.  The infected are in effect, reanimated corpses; referred to as Zed Heads (Zed, British for the letter Z), or, perhaps more familiar, ZOMBIES!  The term zombie according to Brooks (2003) is “an animated corpse that feeds on living human flesh” (p.2).  In an effort to minimize confusion, and to differentiate between Brooks’ (2003, 2006) flesh-eating zombies and the zombies, which have infiltrated many organizations, the following terminology will used: (a) Zombie (Brooks’ flesh-eaters), and (b) Corpz (Corporate Zombie). 

In the broadest sense, a zombie is a once, living being, who has lost his or her sense of self-awareness and character, thereby becoming a vessel of contamination.  Zombies seek the annihilation (and often consumption) of any human in close proximity, regardless the situation, or cost.  Zombies attempt to compensate for their loss of intellect by amassing in large numbers, to better their probability of infecting the living. 

The zombies, spoken of in the writings of Brooks (2003, 2006) become such (turned) in a relatively short span of time following one-on-one, physical, open-wound contact with an infected vessel.  Unlike the familiar zombies of Brooks’ literature, coprzs in organizations become infected over long periods of exposure—to toxic leadership (Padilla, Hogan, & Kaiser, 2007).  Corpzism is a current and infectious problem in many organizations.  Corpzism is neither localized nor discriminating; it can be found universally throughout organizations where toxic principles are espoused, and appears to follow an indiscernible process.  Corpzism does appear to be more prevalent in persons who are no longer exposed to production realities (walking the shop), and who rely solely on graphical/numerical depictions of organizational health (Porath & Erez, 2009).  Over time, organizational leaders, who have lost touch with the human element, become numb to situational awareness. 

There is not yet, a definitive causality for corpzism, though some researchers, Martin (2011) and Porath and Erez (2009) have posited that long-term confinement [cubicleosis] or [officeitis] (never leaving the cubicle or office), and over-exposure to inanimate communication devices, directly impact awareness.  Comfort zones, like addictions, gently lull one, through assimilation, into a catatonic state.  Aspiring leaders, who fall victim to the assimilation process, soon find themselves entranced by the mesmerizing spell of computer-generated management fodder.  Gradually, the once aspiring leader begins to justify his or her behavior, and if left unchecked, the mesmerizing effects of chart gazing and spreadsheet functions, transfigures the leader into a mere manager [corpz] (the turning).  As the leader, turned corpz, continues to rely on the computer-monitoring paradigm for the answers to organizational problems, short cuts, workarounds, and creative bookkeeping become the norm. 

Like an alcoholic whose behaviors begin to cause a breakdown of the family unit, leaders, turned corpz, begin to alienate the people within the organization.  Corpzs “are unconcerned about, or oblivious to, staff or troop morale and/or climate” (Reed, 2004, p. 67).  Paranoia may soon follow, as the corpz perceives that the downward trend of the organization is resultant of departmental leaders’ failure to make the numbers.  The people in the organization are considered insignificant, solely an end to a means, and thereby, become disenfranchised; performing only mundane tasks, when asked, and exactly as requested (Schneider, 2013).  In organizations where this level of toxicity resides, extra effort is often withheld (de Luque, Washburn, Waldman, & House, 2008).  In the literal sense of going viral, the corpzs will continue to infect the healthy within the organization; spreading toxicity, and accelerating organizational decay (Hacker, 2010, p. 28).

Corpzs 1

Inforgraphic [segment] from I hired a zombie (Vitamin T, n.d.)

Identifying zombies is intuitive; telltale signs include, slow, lethargic movement, and of course, by sight and smell.  The process of identifying corpzs can be equally intuitive, once an awareness of the existence is created.

One of the first indications of a corpz-infected organization is an observable lack of motivation within the regular members, and departmental directors, who appear numb to personal interaction.  As any good auditor can attest, the symptoms of organizational decay (the lack of motivation) are an indication of a larger, systemic decomposition.  Likened unto the analogy of peeling back the layers of an onion in search of obvious rot, corpzism becomes more apparent as one digs deeper into the core, for causality.

Destroying healthy minds appears to be the mission of both zombie and corpz alike.  The modus operandi of traditional zombies, Brooks (2003, 2006) is having a ravenous need for consuming human flesh (brains specifically).  The objective of corpzs, is to devoid the organization of knowledge.  The knowledge purging process involves assigning monotonous projects and mindless work; thereby allowing the good, healthy brains to stagnate and rot.  In fact, I posit that knowledge-hoarding rather than knowledge-sharing is the by-word of corpzism; ideas, initiative, and creativity are swiftly eradicated through the tornadic vacuum, generated by the plagiaristic behaviors of the coprzist hoard—infected senior managers, who take credit, rather than giving credit for the work of others.  

Corpzs are similar to zombies in that they do not tire, having spent the majority of the work- day seated behind a computer, searching spreadsheets and slide decks for an explanation of the organization’s declining health, only to emerge from the office (at the end of everyone’s work-day), to convene a meeting.  Unlike zombies, who are incapable of planning or coordinating their attacks, by design, corpzs schedule many of the meetings, in which important decisions are generally made, late in the day, when the majority of the attendees are exhausted and ready to go home; thereby insuring a diminished attention span, and little, to no resistance to proposals.

Further, corpzs are renowned for their innate ability to suck the life, energy, and spirit out of the organization, by spewing forth negativity and doubt (Hacker, 2010).  Corpzism is reaching near-epic proportions.  The ranks of the infected are ever increasing, and their actions are becoming more brazen, because they crave the mind, the consciousness, and if possible, through demoralization, the very souls of the uninfected within organizations.  Unlike zombies, who have no self-preservation instincts, and can only be stopped, if shot in the head, corpzs are adept at self-preservation, and since the bullet-in-the-head methodology is frowned upon, as violence in the workplace, a more humane methodology of awakening is suggested as a means to resuscitate rather than eliminate the infected.

In Part 2 of The Infected Organization series, I will provide my thoughts, musings, and proposed ideas for Corpz Resuscitation.  If you have had personal experiences with toxic leaders (corpzs) in your organization, I welcome your thoughts and feedback regarding identification and treatment of the corpzism epidemic.  Also, please let me know your thoughts on Part 1, The infected organization: Corpz exposure.  Thanks for reading…


Brooks, M. (2003). The zombie survival guide: Complete protection from the living dead. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

Brooks, M. (2006). World War Z: An oral history of the zombie war. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

de Luque, M. S., Washburn, N. T., Waldman, D. A., & House, R. J. (2008). Unrequited profit: How stakeholder and economic values relate to subordinates’ perceptions of leadership and firm performance. Administrative Science Quarterly, 53, 626-654.

Hacker, S. (2010, January). Zombies in the workplace. The Journal for Quality & Participation. Retrieved from

Martin, B. G. (2011). Toward Gemeinschaftsgefühl: Exploring subordinate and manager perceptions of trust and perceptions regarding behavioral change potential (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 3486058)

Padilla, A., Hogan, R., & Kaiser, R. B. (2007). The toxic triangle: Destructive leaders, susceptible followers, and conducive environments. The Leadership Quarterly, 18, 176-194. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2007.03.001

Porath, C. L., & Erez, A. (2009). Overlooked but not untouched: How rudeness reduces onlookers’ performance on routine and creative tasks. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 109, 29-44. doi:10.1016/j.obhdp.2009.01.003

Reed, G. E. (2004, July-August). Toxic leadership. Military Review, 67-71. Retrieved from

Schneider, A. (2013, May 23). Meaning is the antidote to corporate zombies [Web log post]. Retrieved from

The 5Q. (2012, March 28). How to keep your company from being murdered by zombies [Web log post]. Retrieved June 17, 2013 from

Vitamin T. (n.d.). I hired a zombie [Infographic]. Retrieved from

Arrival: Now what…?

ArrivalBeen there done that, got the hat.  Well, I also got the fancy dress and even went to the big dance, but now what?

Many graduates, yes, even those of us with “terminal degrees”, find ourselves at the end of our academic journey, wondering what was it all for?  What do I do now?  I should be reading a book, writing a paper, or conducting research; something…  As we catch our breath, and slowly get weaned from our academic routines, we often find ourselves left with a void in our schedules.  Some take a hiatus; a break from the rigorous workload that had consumed so much of our time. 

“Publish or perish”, seems to be the by-word for a Ph.D. (Post-hiatus-Direction).  As such, I started this blog [2bFree4Life] in January 2012, and amassed 23 postings over a 12-month period, followed by a three month dry spell.  I have joined several groups on LinkedIn, and even started three articles (currently dormant).

Perhaps entering the world of Academe?  That is a viable direction for one with a terminal degree; right?  What if you, like me (Associate Professor), are already imparting of your knowledge in the academic realms?  I guess I am asking (musing), how does one stay engaged?

I welcome your insights, suggestions, and/or $.02.  Please feel free to post your comments here, or Twitter: @2bfree4life

Have I Done Any Good…

On Monday, July, 16, 2012, a void was created, as the world lost a very special person; one who touched many lives during his stay here. At the same moment, the heavens rejoiced, in a grand reunion, as Dr. Stephen R. Covey returned to the Father, where I am certain he heard these words: “…Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21 [KJV]).
I believe Stephen’s faith, and understanding of eternal principles are what made him so successful and why he is loved by so many people. Stephen had a firm testimony, which is echoed in the following quote: “We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey” (Covey, n.d.). The realization that life is eternal, (only our earthly existence is short); that we existed in spiritual form, prior to gaining a human form, AND, that we will once again return to our spiritual form, as we await the resurrection, when we will once again receive a physical body. But this time, we will receive a glorified, exalted body; this is the very essence of “beginning with the end in mind”.
What we (you and I) do (requires action), for others, while in our human state, determines our spiritual progression. We often find ourselves “immersed in the thick of thin things. In other words, too often we spend most of our time taking care of the things which do not really matter much at all in the grand scheme of things, neglecting those more important causes” (Monson, 2009).
What we do with our time and talents while living in our human form, and the lives we touch along the way, become our legacies; how we will be remembered by those we leave behind, as we continue our spiritual journey. Consider the following excerpt from Have I done any good?:

Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone’s burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there? (Thompson, n.d.)

Dr. Stephen R. Covey was there. He left a legacy. He will be remembered for his accomplishments through the countless lives he has touched. It is my desire to also leave a legacy through touching the lives of those whom God puts in my path as I grow spiritually, during my human journey. I pray that touching others’ lives is your desire as well, and I welcome your comments and thoughts on this posting.

Covey, S. R., Merrill, A. R., & Merrill, R. R. (1994). First things first. New York, NY: Free Press.

Monson, T. S. (2009, November). What have I done for someone today? Ensign.

Thompson, W. L. (n.d.). Have I done any good? Hymns. 223.

Why Ask Why?

An undisputable fact based on science as we [humankind] understand it correctly, is that we all reside upon the big blue marble known as Earth. Also undisputable is the fact that if one were to remove all the clutter (ethnicity, race, color, creed, sexual preferences, and religious or political affiliations, one would validate that we are all people. Further, people are social beings, and have learned over the centuries of existence, that unified effort begets rewards of survival (not being eaten by carnivorous beasts).
Castell in Tarragona, Spain: A castell is a human tower, which is built in two phases (a base and the tower). The similitude between the castell and organizations is amazing: both require willing people in order to be successful; both rely on strength and agility to grow; both must have a firm foundation for support; and absolutely essential is commitment and active participation from the people at the top.
When people join together for a common purpose, whether for survival against threats to their existence, or to reach for higher aspirations, innovation becomes the achievable bi-product of the collective efforts. Innovation is why humans survived, and why dinosaurs and saber-tooth tigers became extinct. Perhaps then, by drawing on the analogy, a lack of innovation, brought about by a deficit or non-existent unity in purpose can be attributed to the demise of organizations, wherein the leaders focused more on short-term financial gains at the expense of long-term investments in the people? If the knowledge that unified effort ensures survival is universally accepted, and scientifically proven, then why is that organizational leaders and managers place so much emphasis on individual performance, against metrics which by design measure arbitrary objectives?
I believe Simon Sinek has done an excellent job explaining why, we should begin with asking why? Please watch this video.

Please let me know your thoughts on the video, but more importantly, I would like to know your thoughts on the investment in people vs. metric [chart] chasing. Thanks for reading.

What You Need To Know About The Box

Are we in or out?
A poll of 160 senior executives revealed “68% [of the respondents] don’t have enough time with their families and loved ones, and when they’re with them, they’re not always really [italics added] with them” (Schwartz, 2012). In short, these espoused leaders (influencers) are setting an example that the process of work is more important than the process of people. And yet, as is often the case, the blame for failure in the home and workplace is shifted from the source (the disconnected influencer) to the process of work (de-humanization), which is the antitheses of the process of people (humanization). Consequently, an increased emphasis is placed on improving the process of work, while continuing to be blinded to the reality that the real problems lay in the process of people, which has been ignored; self-deception. When we as influencers (in business, church, and families) focus our energies on the work process, we deceive ourselves; we are blinded, and fail to see that we are the problem. We are, as presented by the Arbinger Institute (2002), in the box.
Conversely, when we focus our energies on the people process, we are demonstrating humanness as influencers, and we learn to acknowledge that we are the problem; we are out of the box.
Not until we achieve the realization that the change must begin with self, are we able to begin the process of shoring up and supporting the growth of those around us.
With such a significant percentage (68%), Schwartz (2012) of senior executives in the box, then mathematically speaking, only 32% of senior executives are out of the box. Based on this assessment (understanding there are many more senior executives who were not in the poll), one might question, “Are the systems created for work designed to maximize productivity and profit, or human well-being?” (Altman, 2012).
In an effort to address the above question, consider in partial answer, the following:

…executives [who] build golden parachutes and steal from tomorrow to make today look good; …professors [who] forget the students in their march toward self-promotion and prominence in their filed; …ministers [who’s} name appears above the savior’s; …charities that put growth and recognition ahead of the needs of the suffering; [and] …politicians [who] promote themselves over the needs of their constituents. (Lichtenwalner, 2012)

Selfishness and a lack of self-awareness are examples of influencing from inside the box, and we cannot see how our behaviors influence our relationships with others. From within the box, we tend to “obtain success in the short-term, often resulting in low morale, high turnover, and limited sustainability” (Lichtenwalner, 2012). When we are in the box, we always see others as being the problem. When we are in the box, we treat others as objects or inconveniences (de-humanization). We tend to lose our perspective of what really matters. We forget that people have needs, wants, and desires (humanization); people deserve to be treated as people. In order to get out of the box, and stay out of the box, we as influencers must remember that we are in the people business, and relationship building should be our primary goal.
Disrupting the box


I recently read an article posted in my favorite news letter, Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge. In the article, the author tells of an account in which an individual had commented about the fruitlessness of living a values-driven life, and his decision against having religion in his life (he had lost his way in this world), and ‘didn’t see the long-term benefits of sticking to principles every day, considering all the hard work involved’, …it had ‘a negative net present value’ (Nobel, 2012).
In likening this commentary to self-deception, being in or out of the box, it is quite apparent that the individual, who failed to see the long-tem benefits of living a values-driven life, is in the box (self-deceived). Dr. Clayton Christensen, a management professor at Harvard Business School, and an authority on disruptive innovation responded to the commentary as follows:

You know, it’s a travesty that somehow our society has gotten to a point where people have the view that science and academia are inconsistent with a spiritual life, and the belief that we’ve been put here for a purpose. The reality is that the only reason you’re interested in either of these things is that you’re interested in finding the truth. We spend most of our waking hours in our professions, but if we can’t allow success in our professions to benefit from truth that we have learned in the other parts of our lives, we just deprive ourselves of a very important input. (Nobel, 2012)

Dr. Christensen’s research tends to disrupt the typical MBA mindset, which espouses short-termism and Wall Streetism as the means by which businesses succeed. I sustain the disrupted view, and that the humanistic approach to leading an organization has far-reaching, long-term implications toward organizational success. However, the path of disruption has no shortcuts. Disruption requires one to be out of the box, to abscond the status quo, and to accept that the eternal truths gained through living a spiritual life are not only important in our homes and religious institutions, but are essential in our professions as well.
Mackay (2012) reported in The Arizona Republic, citing a book by Manby (2012), Love works: Seven timeless principles for effective leaders, that love is not only acceptable in the workplace, but encouraged. “We actually use love to define our leadership culture…. Not love the emotion, but love the verb…if [leaders] create enthusiasm with their employees, the employees will in turn create an enthusiastic guest experience (Manby, 2012).
Further clarity of spirituality in the workplace can be found through reading for understanding rather than passive peruse of Maslow (1965) Eupsychian Management. Maslow’s view of self-actualization is not an endpoint (as presented in mainstream management literature),

but rather an ongoing process that involves dozens of little growth choices that entail risk and require courage. …a difficult path to take and often puts us at odds with surrounding people and norms. …that self-actualizing people were deeply committed in action to core values that look very similar to those put forward in all major religious traditions. These ‘being-values’ are simple yet difficult to fully embody in everyday challenges of life… (O’Connor & Yballe, 2007, p.742)

Leaders, managers, and influencers, regardless of their station within society (the workplace, church, or the home), have the ability to bring about positive outcomes by staying out of the box. The self-actualizing behaviors envisioned by Maslow (1965), are a reality, and are within our grasp today. When we make a conscious choice to act in harmony with what we say and believe to be truth, we can bring about the desired change we wish to see in those within our circles of influence. Only when we stand firm and refuse to compromise our standards (Christensen, 2012), and understand the significance of how our personal examples influence the perceptions of trust by others, will we be able to advance society closer toward a state of Gemeinschaftsgefühl; a more humanistic state of being (Martin, 2011).

What are your thoughts on being in or out of the box? What is your take on spirituality in the workplace? Please let me know your thoughts and/or opinions of this posting. I welcome your comments please.


Altman, L. (2012). Humanizing workplace relationships: People aren’t tasks [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Arbinger Institute. (2002). Leadership and self-deception: Getting out of the box (1st ed.). San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Conley, C. (2010, February). Measuring what makes life worthwhile. TED. Retrieved from

Covey, S. R. (1990). The seven habits of highly effective people: Restoring the character ethic. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Christensen, C. M., Allworth, J., & Dillon, K. (2012). How will you measure your life? New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Lichtenwalner, B. (2012, June). Servant leadership manifesto [Web log post]. Retrieved June 28, 2012 from

Mackay, H. (2012, June, 25). To lead well, learn to treat others with love. The Arizona Republic, pp. B5

Manby, J. (2012). Love works: Seven timeless principles for effective leaders. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan

Maslow, A. H. (1965). Eupsychian management: A journal. Homewood, IL: Dorsey.

Nobel, C. (2012, June, 4). The business of life. Harvard Business School Working Knowledge. Retrieved from

O’Connor, D. & Yballe, L. (2007, October). Maslow revisited: Constructing a road map of human nature. Journal of Management Education, 31, 738-756. doi:10.1177/1052562907307639

Schwartz, T. (2012). Share this with your CEO [Web log post]. Retrieved from

It’s All About People

It's All About People.

Thanks to Doug Dickerson for this posting…

The last paragraph and the understanding that we are ALL in the people business is often forgotten, overlooked, or just outrightly ignored in the quest for short-termism and focussing on the wrong bottom-line.

Gemeinschaftsgefühl + Eupsychia = 2bFree4Life

While conducting research and a review of the literature for my doctoral dissertation; Toward Gemeinschaftsgefühl: Exploring subordinate and manager perceptions of trust and perceptions regarding behavioral change potential, I became acutely aware of the myriad of definitions of Gemeinschaftsgefühl. Further, if one were to adopt and embrace Eupsychian principles in conjunction with Gemeinschaftsgefühl, a culture of humanistic enlightenment could be achieved, personally and organizationally; in essence, Freedom.
• Adlerian psychologists posited Gemeinschaftsgefühl is a state of connectedness, “community feeling” or “social interest”; in which the well-being of others is manifested (Ansbacher, 1991).
• Gemeinschaftsgefühl is a feeling of brotherly love or a closeness (community feeling, community sense, or humanistic identification); a kinship with other human beings (O’Connell, 1965; Martin, 2011).
• Gemeinschaftsgefühl can be described as the cooperative behavior or team unity achieved in organizations where trust resides (Huber, 2006; Martin, 2011).
• Abraham Maslow believed Gemeinschaftsgefühl as the only word available, which described the feeling of humankind, and a deep feeling of identification, sympathy, and affection in spite of occasional anger and impatience (Ansbacher, 1991).
• TED 2007 – “A profound sense of connection with others and a desire to improve our lot, environmentally, economically, physically, socially, [and] spiritually (Guarriello, 2007).

• Eupsychia was coined by Abraham H. Maslow in his journal notes, which were later published under the title, Eupsychian Management in 1965, and later republished under the title Maslow on Management in 1998.
• Eupsychia is the preferred word for implying real possibility and improvement rather than speculation regarding future states of being (Maslow, 1965; Maslow, Stephens, & Heil, 1998; Martin, 2011).
• The principle of eupsychia or enlightenment is synonymous with continuous improvement in relation to the study of human behavior and motivation.
• Maslow (1965) hypothesized that positive human potential is manifested when the needs of the organization are aligned with the needs of the people (Payne, 2000).
• An understanding of the perceptions of trust can advance individuals and organizations toward a state of Gemeinschaftsgefühl; a more humanistic culture (O’Connell, 1965).

• A culmination of Gemeinschaftsgefühl PLUS Eupsychia: Connectedness, community, feeling, social, interest, well-being, brotherly love, closeness, community sense, humanistic, identification, kinship, human cooperative, behavior, team, unity, trust, feeling, humankind, deep, sympathy, affection, profound, sense, desire, improve, environmentally, economically, physically, socially, spiritually, real, possibility, principle, enlightenment, continuous, relation, human, behavior, motivation, positive, potential, needs, aligned, understanding, perceptions, trust, humanistic, and culture.
• Founded on the principles as defined by Maslow’s 37 assumptions (Maslow, 1965, p. 17-33).
• The process whereby one’s personal thoughts form attitudes, which influence decisions, which direct actions, through habits and character.
• True freedom is manifested through selflessness rather than selfishness; what one thinks about, one brings about.
• Freedom is conceived through reciprocity of humanness; “ripples are indicative of human life, one cannot touch another without being touched back” (Martin, 2010).

Ansbacher, H. (1991). The concept of social interest. Individual Psychology: Journal of Adlerian Theory, Research & Practice, 47, 28-46.

Guarriello, T. ( 2007). TED 2007.

Martin, B. G. (2011). Toward Gemeinschaftsgefühl: Exploring subordinate and manager perceptions of trust and perceptions regarding behavioral change potential (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 3486058)

Maslow, A. H. (1965). Eupsychian management: A journal. Homewood, IL: Richard D. Irwin, Inc. and The Dorsey Press.

Maslow, A. H., Stephens, D. C., & Heil, G. (1998). Maslow on management. New York, NY: Wiley.

O’Connell, W. (1965). Humanistic identification: A new translation for Gemeinschaftsgefühl. Journal of Individual Psychology, 21, 44-47.

Payne, R. L. (2000). Eupsychian management and the millennium. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 15, 219-226.