In 2003, I wrote a long document about my craft. One of my insights was that when people form groups, there are three elements that are always there. They’re crucial. They play out in functional or dysfunctional ways:
Stories, rituals and sense-making.
This is where we assemble our tribes and ultimately, the undercurrent beneath why we disband or leave them.
They have existed as long as we have had the gift and capability to pass them on. Dating back to learning speech, making a fire and sitting in a circle around it. Most of anything we do in groups can still be looped back to at least one of those three categories.
When it’s not working out between people in their tribes (another way to look at organisations), there are probably many superficial reasons, but at a deeper level, it’s usually about:
- Losing or failing to find a shared sense of purpose – what is what we do for? What is the story that binds us together?
- Not honouring or regularly revisiting the need for functional rituals (the annual planning process is a ritual, mind you) – what are we doing there, really? Why?
- Disregard for our stories, conveyed in power, meaning or affect – when did we last gather around the fire and share stories?
From there, the rules and the ropes for a tribe get written.
I was powerfully reminded of this train of thoughts when I walked on Charing Cross Road. I had to stop because I noticed A Child of The Jago It seems well on track to gather its own growing tribe, under the intriguing tagline “Original Terrorist Clothing”. Not my style, not my tribe, but delightful nevertheless to bump into. If you look carefully, you’ll notice the big smile it put on my face. Clearly a data point in favour of Seth’s theorem: “We are all weird. The Rise of Tribes and the End of Normal“
What tribes do you belong to? What’s the weirdest one you spotted lately? What did that teach you about your own?