Thursday, October 15, 2009

The 5 Stages of a Tribe

Now here's a great TED talk that any leader of groups would benefit from checking out. In it, David Logan (a USC faculty member, best-selling author, and management consultant) shares research that identifies the 5 Stages of a Tribe...with "tribes" defined as groups of 20 to 150 people that in one way or another "do life" together...perhaps through work, through church, through neighborhood, or through affinity (as in the "Dippers" tribe on YouTube. Warning: this is funny, but also gross.) Check it...

The 5 Stages Logan identifies:

Stage 1: Life Sucks! -- When people form tribes around their common disdain for life.

Stage 2: My Life Sucks! -- When people form tribes around their common hatred of their own lives or situations.

Stage 3: I'm great; you're not. -- The most abundant tribal form, common in executive offices, bowling teams and Neighborhood parties...anytime people gather around some common quality or experience but focus their energy on comparison & competition with other tribe members.

Stage 4: We're great! -- When people transcend individualism and see themselves as a part of a positive thriving cooperative community.

Stage 5: Life is great! -- When Stage 4 tribes move past the awesomeness of their own community to focus on creating beauty in the world. These tribes, says Logan, represent only about 2% of all tribes on earth and are the ones that create the most positive change in the world.

I was immediately struck by some personal observations while watching Logan's presentation:

  • I have never been a part of a Stage 1 or Stage 2 tribe. Have you?
  • We're all looking for a Stage 4 tribe. Very few of us ever find it.
  • Although we're all looking for a Stage 4 tribe, what the world really needs are a lot more Stage 5 tribes.
  • Churches, Synagogues, Mosques, temples are all supposed to be hubs for Stage 4/Stage 5 tribes. Most, however, are probably Stage 3 or even Stage 2. Which begs the questions: "How can we move an entire tribe (or network of tribes) from Stage 3 to Stage 4? And then from Stage 4 to Stage 5?" To me, this is the essence of the goal we have in mind when we talk about "culture change"--whether that's in a family, a community, a church, or a nation.
  • I am currently a part of at least two Stage 5 tribes. And for that, I am extraordinarily thankful.
What stage is your tribe in?

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