Seth Godin wrote this in his book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us: Tribes make our lives better. And leading a tribe is the best life of all.
Godin is really onto something. He is at the front edge of something new – identifying it with an old yet now new word, “tribe,” used to describe a new reality. The reality is this: everyone is looking to find his/her own tribe.
Here is what prompted this post: I was reading about the new Drew Barrymore movie Whip It, (her directorial debut) starring Ellen Page, best known from Juno. The Huffington Post put up the trailer – and right in the middle, in big bold text, it says: “Find Your Tribe.” (Watch the trailer here).
We can all reflect on the power of this concept. A tribe provides a place to belong, with tasks to perform — a sense of connection and purpose. Years ago, I heard this simple description of how to keep people involved in church: make sure each person has someone to know and something to do. The principle is universal, and reflects a deep human need. We need to be connected, and we need purposeful work to fill our days.
Business can provide such a place to be part of a tribe. In the movie Other People’s Money, Andrew Jorgenson (played by Gregory Peck) addressed the stock holders and included these lines:
A business is worth more than the price of its stock. It’s the place where we earn our living, where we meet our friends, dream our dreams. It is, in every sense, the very fabric that binds our society together.
Jorgenson lost the vote, but spoke truth about what we all long for in the business we engage in. He was describing a tribe. (You can listen to the speech at Americanrhetoric.com).
I think we are finding a tribe among book lovers at the First Friday Book Synopsis. Seth Godin reminds us that we can be part of multiple tribes. But the call is clear: Find Your Tribe!
I had a conversation with a CEO of a company that is doing pretty well in the midst of this recession. A lot of companies aren’t, and he is experiencing a new “challenge.” Others — other people, other companies – are trying to get him to expand his company’s efforts into areas that really aren’t the business of his company. He told me of his absolute intent to stay focused – to keep doing what that company is best at, and only do what that company is best at. In other words, to say no to anything that would water down his emphatic yes that is most critical to his success. To stay focused on the right thing – this is one of the great challenges of business (and life) success.
I thought of Jim Collins and Peter Drucker as I pondered the power of focus. We all know Collin’s hedgehog principle: what are you passionate about? What can you be the best at? And, what drives your economic engine – that is, how can you make money doing what you are passionate about and what you can be the best at?
Collins is helpful. But Peter Drucker, forever providing great wisdom, boiled it down to three questions. (I apologize – I know from whom I heard these, but I don’t know where Drucker first wrote/spoke them):
Question 1: What is your business?
Question 2: Who is your customer?
Question 3: What does your customer consider value?
Focus. Finding your passion and your true expertise helps you discover what your business should be. But your customer will decide if it is valuable — and your job, from then on, is to provide such value.
I feel challenged. What about you?
Note: a later version of these questions, with a couple of new ones added, can be found in the book: The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization (J-B Leader to Leader Institute/PF Drucker Foundation) by Peter Drucker. Here is the new version (and the book offers essays on each, with co-authors):
Peter Drucker’s five questions are:
1) What is our Mission? — with Jim Collins
2) Who is our Customer? — with Phil Kotler
3) What does the Customer Value? — with Jim Kouzes
4) What are our Results? — with Judith Rodin
5) What is our Plan? — with V. Kasturi Rangan
That is a question that most workers frequently ask (if only to themselves) when receiving an unexpected request . It is a legitimate question, revealing half of a two-part equation for buy-in, with the other expressed by an English diplomat who once explained his success to me as follows: “I make every effort to let the other chap have it my way.” Long ago, I became convinced that it is impossible to motivate someone else but it is possible to inspire (or at least activate) self-motivation in someone else. One of the most effective ways is to convince that person that what you request or suggest is in her or his best interests. That is, what’s in it for them. If convinced, the person will assume ownership of the given task and make a best effort to complete it.
It is reasonable to expect others to ask, “What’s in it for me?” The challenge is to be fully prepared to provide a complete and truthful response. Say what you will about clichés, they express a basic truth. For example, “First time, shame on you…second time, shame on me.” One man’s opinion, there is a moral imperative involved when attempting to convince someone to do or not do something, to believe or not believe something. That is why it is important to take their best interests into full account (“what’s in it for them”). It sometimes takes months and even years to earn another person’s trust and it can be lost (often forever) with one false statement or one self-serving act. That’s “what’s in it” for all of us in relationships with others. And it’s a lot.
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Peter Schwartz is a futurist, author, and co-founder of Global Business Network, a corporate strategy firm based in San Francisco, California. His published works include The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World, Inevitable Surprises: Thinking Ahead in a Time of Turbulence, The Long Boom: A Vision for the Coming Age of Prosperity with Peter Leyden and Joel Hyatt, and When Good Companies Do Bad Things: Responsibility and Risk in an Age of Globalization with Blair Gibb. He is arguably the world’s greatest authority on scenario planning for organizations and in the August 2009 issue of Wired magazine, in an article written by Steven Levy (“Your Future in 5 Easy Steps: The Wired Guide to Personal Scenario Planning”), Schwartz shares his thoughts about how an individual can “envision possible futures, which will serve as guideposts to the path forward.”
1. List Driving Forces: What variables, trends, and events will affect your mission? The first step is simply to list them, then divide them into uncertainties (e.g. economic, political, and social) and relative certainties (e.g. global population growth). “Finally, rank the items according to their importance, from most to least significant. The result: a catalog of factors that will determine the future of the area in question.”
2. Make a Scenario Grid: Now it’s time to map out possible futures. The two most important uncertainties — from the top of your list – form the axes of a grid, with each quadrant representing a potential future. “Some may be more likely than others – and some might seem downright impossible – but they all depict the interplay of key forces. Thus, they’re within the range of possibility and deserve your attention.”
3. Imagine Possible Futures: Sketched as a simple grid, the possible futures you select are so abstract that it would be difficult to recognize them if they emerged. “Make the scenarios more concrete by fleshing them out into imaginary, but plausible, new s stories that are emblematic of the forces at play.”
4. Brainstorm Implications and Actions: Now it’s time to develop strategies for coping with the futures selected. List the implications of each scenario. “Then come up with actions that would enable you to prosper under the new conditions. Some actions would apply to almost any scenario. These should form the basis of your plan, since they help you prepare for a range of possibilities. Bolster core actions with those related to the future you deem most likely.”
5. Track Indicators: Scenarios sensitize you to indications of how the future unfolds. Over tyime, the world will gravitate toward one of the four quadrants formulated. “The trick is to recognize the shift in progress. As you monitor the news, look forsignals that a particulat possibility is bevoming a concrete reality [or at least a prtobability]…EvaluAte developments on a quarterly basis so you can track the trends. Adjust your action strategies to anticipate the future as it emerges.”
Here’s a link to Wired magazine. The complete article should soon be available.
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