Book Review: Tribes

tribes_01I finished reading Tribes (We Need YOU to Lead Them)by Seth Godin a few months back.  First, I would like to say that this book was not at all what I expected. Maybe I expected much more – as it was one of the top business books for 2008. Maybe I set my expectations a bit higher than they should have been. I have to say that the book did make me think about it – which is good.

He first sets the stage on what is a tribe. They are groups of folks that have a shared interest and a way to communicate (with the Internet and social computing software – that has been made simple).  He further explains that shared interest or what gathers the tribe for their beliefs. There are three things that happen for solid outcome.

  1. We all work a lot (well, most of us anyways). If we work on the stuff we believe in, it is much more satisfying than just getting a paycheck or waiting to get fired (or die).
  2. Many organizations are realizing that the factory centric model of producing goods and services is not nearly as profitable as it used to be.
  3. Many consumers have decided to spend their money differently. No more buying off the shelf – they really are looking for stuff with stories and things they believe in. For example of this – look at the focus on green rather than non-green goods.

The factory model mentioned early – is not really the heavy machinery and such – but look at it as an organization that cranks out products or services with measurable output and tries to reduce cost along the way. It also centers on the boss tells you what  to do and how to do it. The factory is not a bad thing. It comes with a very rich history. The converse is true as well, there are shortcomings. Just depends on which side you want to be on.  I use the question “How was your day?” as a gauge to where you feel you are at.

Godin also talks about something that I have written in one of my posts – a ways back. Leadership is not management. He dedicated a chapter on it. He points out some solid examples:

  1. Managers manage a process they have seen before and they react to the outside world striving to make the process go as fast and as cheap as possible
  2. Leadership is about creating change.

The book has plenty of examples of tribes and their leaders. Where I think it falls short is providing many of the how to’s and tips on turning this into reality. Maybe that was is the point that he is trying to make – that the how to’s depend on YOU!

Like I wrote earlier in the post, I enjoyed reading the book and it made me think about myself, my team and the tribes that I follow or lead. There is much more in the book!

I did get a few quotes or phrases that I enjoyed and share below.

  1. “The secret of being wrong isn’t to avoid being wrong!”
  2. “If your organization  requires success before commitment, it will never have either.”
  3. “Stuck on Stupid” – have to explain this one a bit… Centers on the world changes, the rules change – if you are still following yesterday’s rules – you are stuck. “Stuck on Stupid”