On Death and Corporate Culture

Giancarlo Livraghi, who passed awat last Feb. 22, is not only one of the Fathers of the Italian Internet and a civil rights advocate. He is one of the most influential player of the international advertising business.From 1980 to 1993, until he retired to focus himself on the cultural implication of the (then) newborn Internet, he founded and directed the Livraghi, Ogilvy&Mather, now just Ogilvy Italia.

The sad news made a fast round in the advertising community, but neither the Ogilvy corporate site nor the Italian spent a single word to say “good-bye” to one of its top men ever (at least: I thoroughly looked for, and found nothing, even through Google.) This fact reinforced a disturbing belief I’ve developed interacting with the US-based management style: when you’re gone, you’re gone, no matter how good you did for the company. After all, a human being is just a “resource”.

Then compare this approach to the management style of Adriano Olivetti. True, Olivetti  – the company that, before Richard Stallman, invented the powerful concept of Open System Architecture – is no more than a vague name in the ICT business. But its management style is still an unsurpassed way to make people work together.

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