Friday, 20 November 2009

On tribes and drawing boards

"Despite current ads and slogans, the world doesn't change one person at a time. It changes when networks of relationships form among people who share a common cause and vision of what's possible. This is good news for those of us intent on creating a positive future. Rather than worry about critical mass, our work is to foster critical connections. We don't need to convince large numbers of people to change; instead, we need to connect with kindred spirits. Through these relationships, we will develop the new knowledge, practices, courage and commitment that lead to broad-based change."~Margaret Wheatley

I came across this quote while blog-hopping and it yelled “look at me – more on this tribalism topic you are suddenly so interested in!”. I liked the sound of this Wheatley woman so I travelled hundreds of miles to a suitably-sized academic library and spent hours researching to find out more… or did I just google?

In other work she talks about the pitfalls of the ‘same old, but better’ techniques employed by many companies when planning their business strategy or even Governments with public policy. What’s missing, she suggests is room for a creative approach, something to shake up the entrenched thinking. It’s about doing the ‘unthinkable’, being brave enough to step outside our conventional ways of working.

She had me jumping up and down in agreement there. I left my last employer for this very reason. As a right-side of brain creative thinker, I feel particularly uncomfortable with the same old, same old – particularly when it is linked with death by powerpoint presentations. Where making it ‘better’ actually meant give me more slides, with more information on a slide (that the participants already know anyway). This company was just not my tribe.

My experiences at the New Brand Tribalism workshop earlier this month gave me a reminder (as if I needed it!) that it doesn’t have to be this way.

We are no longer playing by the same rules. When I began my career in the early 1990s, if I’d come across an interesting quote by Margaret Wheatley, I would have needed some serious intent to go and research about her. Today, having stumbled upon her completely by accident, sitting in the comfort of my own home, I was then reading her articles within seconds. The world shifts. Economies shift. Business shifts. Employee relationships shift.

Scientists concur that the only building block in life is relationships. How well do you understand the relationships, or tribes, in your organisation? What social networks are building behind your back? Interesting food for thought.

Leaping about a bit (well, it’s my blog, I can do what I like!), I wanted to somehow bring these thoughts around to blogging too. When I started this back in February, I had absolutely no expectation of joining any tribes. I just thought I’d write an online diary of musings. And yet here I am, regular participant in various blog art and writing challenges, making new friends across the globe, joining in debate and offering support on topics close to my heart. We’re forming new tribes all the time and I’m more than happy to be a member of many great ones (see also new blog badge for new brand tribalism on right hand banner!).

One tribe I am still desperate to join is that of ‘selling artist’. I had a stall at the my son’s school’s festive fayre last night. Half my stand smelt sweetly of hand made soap. The other looked ‘pretty with pictures’. Perhaps the customers were just a grubby lot, because the soap sold, but the art, despite admiring glances, did not. Perhaps it was not the right market. Oh well. As they say, back to the drawing board… !


  1. Excellent quote and I enjoyed your thoughtful musings here. We really do learn and 'change' from our experiences with others. I too started to journal to myself with my blog but found that swimming upstream with all of the others got me further along in productivity. Now it is hard to break out for a little while and just sidestream! For me it's finding a balance of just the right amount of inter-action. Loved your thought-provoking post- have a nice weekend!

  2. This was a very good post that got me to thinking about alot of things. I am with Lori, though...balance...need that. Otherwise, life spins out of control.

    Hope you have a great weekend.

  3. It certainly comes down the 100th monkey theory, doesn't it!?! And yes, it's mind boggling what's available at our fingertips anymore, wow!

    As far as sales go, it really all depends, one night soaps might sell and the next artwork. It just all depends on the crowd, at least that's what we've found so have faith and hang in there... it's all beautiful! (and I haven't even seen the soaps, lol!)


Thank you for your comments - I always love to hear what you think :)

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