Create the Place Where You Long to Belong

Synchronised Origami

A Hundred Years of Solitude

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always yearned to find a place where would I truly belong. A place where I’d spend most of my waking hours actively participating in what I call the 3 Cs: Communication, Collaboration and Community.

Communication: A place where my finger’s always on the pulse, a place where people say what they mean and mean what they say.

Collaboration: A place where people work together, play together, win together, working towards a common goal.

Community: A place where we care about one another, look out for each other and create opportunities together.

Then one lunchtime, as I peruse the shelves of business books at my local bookstore, I stumble upon a book to help me turn my dream into reality. To create a place where I long to belong at work.

The Power of Tribes

Tribal Leadership” by Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright is a book based on the ancient concept of tribes. In it, they describe how organisations operate in a 5-stage model based on organisational research from numerous U.S. companies. The book is packed full of practical tips of how to “upgrade” your tribe from its current stage to the next in order to create an organisation that doesn’t merely survive, but thrives.

According to Dave and his co-authors, a tribe consists of a group of between 20 – 150 people who would stop and greet each other when their paths crossed. A small tribe (the equivalent to a small organisation) is between 20 – 50 people large, whereas a large tribe (a larger organisation) is between 50 – 150 people. The concept of “tribe” scales in that a large organisation is made up of a tribe of tribes. And what do all tribes in a single organisation have in common? Organisational culture, of course.

What Dave’s research tells us

The supporting research of Tribal Leadership is based on workplaces in America.

5 Stages of Tribal Leadership

Stage 1: A person at Stage 1 is usually alienated by the world of them. Around 2% of professionals are at this stage. People at Stage 1 take shotguns to work. Tribes at Stage 1 are reminiscent of prisons in culture.

Stage 2: A person at Stage 2 is constantly complaining, wondering “Why me?” Dave refers to this stage as the “ghetto of corporate despair. Around 25% of workplaces operate at this stage. According to the model, Dilbert is at Stage 2.

Stage 3: A person at Stage 3 is all about “Me! Me! Me!”. Knowledge is power and they hoard it and keep it for themselves. A whopping 49% of workplaces are at Stage 3.

Stage 4: Individuals and tribes are value-driven at Stage 3. Around 22% of workplaces make up Stage 4. Interesting fact: people at Stage 4 require a common enemy against whom the tribe focuses in order to be better. Reminds me of classic James Bond movies where Bond needs baddies in order to be a goodie.

Stage 5: A person at Stage 5 “makes history”. People at Stage 5 take full responsibility for their words and actions. They are driven by leadership, vision and inspiration. Around 2% of workplaces make up Stage 5. Graduates begin at Stage 5 and usually regress to lower stages.

Tribal Leadership session at XP Days Benelux

For those who know me, one of my favourite hobbies is turning theory into experiential learning to help bring the theory alive and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do with Tribal Leadership at XP Days Benelux last week.

Copycat Origami

What Dave says about the session

Dave has seen the presentation and says, “Amazing work! Would you be open to our posting this on our website? It’s really outstanding!” Having seen the pictures from the session at XP Days, Dave adds, “This is really fun! Love the pictures. Looks like you get people really involved.”

I hope you have as much fun looking through the presentation as I did in building it with help from my tribe!

Where can I find out more about Tribal Leadership?

Special Thanks!

Tribal Trade

To Dave Logan and his team for giving permission to re-use his model and snippets from the great book “Tribal Leadership”, not to mention all the really useful feedback and input to clarify the role of ego in the different stages.

To my tribe at work for playing along and giving the gift feedback. It sure helped to turn the BETA session into something much more challenging, meaningful and fun!

To the 40 participants at XP Days Benelux who took part in synchronise peace crane paperfolding and are living proof of how even perfect strangers can learn to tribe in as little time as 90 minutes. And for their gift of feedback. Looking forward to playing again next year!

10 Responses to “Create the Place Where You Long to Belong”

  1. Olaf Lewitz writes:

    Thanks for an awesome session. To me, it was the best of the conference.
    Started to read the book and to use the model in practice already!
    Take care

  2. portiatung writes:

    Hi Olaf,

    Thanks for playing => And for your gift of feedback. I’ve been practising personal stage spotting. It’s hardwork, trying to hone one’s mind and change oneself!

    Looking forward to more conversations about what we really motivates us,

  3. Olaf Lewitz writes:

    I see two “areas” of motivation.
    Dan Pink kind of hit it on the spot with Drive when talking about “working for someone else”, as an employer, for a customer etc.
    Regarding “developing yourself” (finding your motivation in life), I think Ken Robinson says some important things in “The Element” (me currently reading…). Finding your tribe is an important element of the Element 🙂
    We should create a game about some aspect of this at Play4Agile!
    Take care

  4. Software Development Linkopedia December 2011 | The Agile Radar writes:

    […] Blog: Create the Place Where You Long to Belong […]

  5. Kim writes:

    Hi Portia,
    I have just viewed your Tribal Leadership presentation on slideshare. It’s an awesome presentation! I am looking at doing something similar for the company I work for. We have identified the key people and I am working on bits for the presentation. I really like your ideas and was wondering if you mind me using a few (the crane folding etc.) Would you mind sending me a copy in powerpoint? Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  6. portiatung writes:

    Hi Kim,

    You’ll find a number of paperfolding instructions on the Internet for paper cranes. I suggest you search for “paper cranes” on Google images and take your pick.

    I bought special packs of origami paper, one pack per tribe for my session at XP Days Benelux. Each pack included a little booklet of birds, including the crane, for the whole tribe to share:

    Let us know how your session goes!

  7. Gifts Fit for Kings and Queens | Selfish Programming writes:

    […] Leadership” by Dave Logan et al. To learn more about Tribal Leadership in action, check out my interactive workshop based on the model. Like Dave says, “Birds fly, fish school and people tribe.” Go forth and tribe – […]

  8. Transformation Stance | OlafLewitz writes:

    […] you Portia Tung for introducing me to Tribal Leadership. Thank you Venessa Miemis for being a constant […]

  9. Chris writes:

    Great topic… I wanted to check your interactive 90-minute play session on Slideshare, but it was removed. Is it possible to get access to that content? I would really appreciate it. Thanks

  10. portiatung writes:

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for logging the broken link on this blog entry. It’s now fixed and goes to:

    Many thanks!

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