Here we begin with a paradox: United Parcel Service, good old "Brown", is seemingly a mighty bore yet actually a mighty innovator, one of America's most creative companies. Constantly finding new ways to capitalize on change, it has escaped corporate complacency and flourished in hard times. Now it's coping with global recession by reinventing itself yet again - this time with a whole new sideline, supply chain management.
By reputation, UPS is a conservative, inward-looking company with no visible yen for dramatic reinvention. Promotions typically go to lifers: Many executives started as drivers. Employees must behave according to strict standards. Those who meet the public are trained to be pleasant but tightly efficient, their every move optimized by time-and-motion experts.