The Oil Change: A Tool for Tribal Leadership Stage 4 Teams

October 29, 2012

Many times, teams or triads get stuck. Results aren’t occurring; people aren’t doing what they promised, and resentment amongst the team members happens.

In the book,  Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization, by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright, on page 178-179, the authors provide a tool, that they named an “Oil Change.” It is very simple to use and we recommend that a triad use it at least once every 90 days.

It consists of three questions:

  1. What is working well?
  2. What is not working well?
  3. What can the team (triad) do to make the things that are not working well, work?

How can utilizing this oil change help your triad?

IBM CEO Study Concludes: Outperformers are at Tribal Leadership Stage Four

September 22, 2012

IBM conducted more than 1,700 in-depth, face-to-face interviews with CEOs, general managers and senior public sector leaders from around the globe. This 2012 CEO Study, the largest of its type ever undertaken, explores how CEOs are responding to the complexity of increasingly interconnected organizations, markets, societies and governments.

One key finding: “CEOs believe their organizations will be impacted more by the pressure to be open than the need to control.

In our Tribal Leadership research (a 12 year study of over 24,000 people published as the book, Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization) we would categorize this type of culture as Stage Four. And the way to move to Stage Four is by giving up control.

So, it does not surprise me to see that this study found that this emphasis on openness is 30% higher among outperformers.

The other hallmarks of a Stage Four culture are organizations that live by their core values and have a higher sense of purpose or what we call, a Noble Cause. This also came out in the IBM study:

“CEOs recognize the need for organizational values and a clear sense of purpose to guide decisions and actions as some formal controls loosen. Clearly, openness increases vulnerability. The Internet — especially through social networks — can provide a worldwide stage to any employee interaction, positive or negative. For organizations to operate effectively in this environment, employees must internalize and embody the organization’s values and mission.”

“It is important for employees to see the company’s values as a reflection of their own. Values are at the core of the social contract between company and employee.”

Wichian Mektrakarn, CEO, AIS

You can get a copy of this IBM study here.

Tribal Leadership Stage One: From an Integral Theory & Spiral Dynamics Perspective is Beige

September 3, 2012

I recently returned from working with the executive team of a not for profit organization in Brazil, called Reviravolta, (which means “turnaround” when translated to English). This program works with homeless people of Sao Paulo to re-integrate them back into society or to help them turn around their lives. Homelessness is a problem because this is a part of society that becomes invisible and we tend to forget or ignore their situation.

In 2008, my colleagues, Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright completed a 12 year study of over 24,000 people and published the study as the book, Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization. They came up with a simple way to measure the cultural stage of a group, or what we call a tribe. Tribes and people go through stages of development, and according to their research, tribes operate at five different cultural stages, with Stage One at the bottom and Stage Five at the top.

The general description of Stage One is that the language used is “life sucks,” and people act out in despairingly hostile ways. Most of the time, when I hear others talking about Stage One, I hear about street gangs and prisons. In the context of the work force, it is violence and accounting scandals.

“All of this leads to a mood of despairing hostility. People give in to their desires. They act against their values, and everything is permissible: violence, suicide, drugs, any kind of sex. If indulged long enough, these appetites turn into addictions, reinforcing the person’s view that life sucks.” (Tribal Leadership, p. 46)

Through my work with this executive team, I have another perspective of Stage One. The homeless people at Reviravolta are not violent and are not hostile; yet clearly, for them, “life sucks” as would for any of us in their situation.

According to the philosopher Ken Wilber and the authors of the book, Spiral Dynamics, Don Beck and Chris Cowan, “All stages co-exist in both healthy and unhealthy states, whereby any stage of development can lead to undesirable outcomes with respect to the health of the human and social environment.” In their human development model, beige is the lowest stage and is described as a worldview, culture, and mental attitude of basic survival; food, water, warmth, sex, and safety have priority. This is also consistent with the bottom stage in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

I believe that the violent and hostile nature of Stage One is the unhealthy state of Stage One and not its sole nature. The other side, which isn’t healthy, but perhaps less unhealthy is simply despair. This is a group of people who are homeless and hopeless. What the work of Reviravolta does is provide hope that life can be different. By providing a place of the homeless to work, earn some money, wear clean clothes, get a shower and a meal, they are creating a Stage Two culture that gives these people a new possibility.

It was inspirational to work with this executive team that is making a difference towards eliminating homelessness in Sao Paulo and providing a model for the rest of the world. If you would like to contribute to their cause, please contact Vivian: (11) 3311-9928 e (11) 3311-9961 or email:

Tribal Leadership Comes to Sao Paulo Brazil

August 15, 2012

Mark Taylor is coming to Sao Paulo and will be presenting  Tribal Leadership: Because Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast on August 30 at 2:00 pm at Rua Tabapuã, 81, (térreo), Itaim Bibi São Paulo – Capital CEP: 04533-010.

This event is open to the public.

The benefit to attendees is that this workshop will provide them with tools that can:

  • Increase production and profit from three to five times
  • Hire and staff the ideal talent for your team or department
  • Achieve things you never thought you could realistically accomplish

These principles were validated and tested in a 12-year study on 24,000 people (published in 2008 as the book Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan and John King).

There are more details at

How to Create Core Values that Make a Difference

August 4, 2012

Most companies that reflect upon and create core values for their organization do it once, create a plaque, and post it on the wall to be forgotten. One company that does it well is Zappos. There are several things I admire about what they do.

I love how they created values that are statements rather than just words. Many times I see that companies have values such as integrity, respect, and responsibility which are a great start. Take a look at Zappos’ values.

  1. Deliver WOW Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More With Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble

Notice how they begin with a verb and give more direction than just a noun. In our work with clients and the research that was done in the book, Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization, we found that Stage Four tribes had clear core values that provided a decision making framework. This is a lot easier and more effective than rule books and policies.

Tribal Leadership: Because Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

June 28, 2012

Triads Work: Starbucks Grew to $1B in Sales in 5 Years

June 26, 2012

Triads really do work. The key is getting three people to work together seamlessly. Starbucks succeeded with this because Howard Schultz, the founder, was able to give up his stage three need to control and surround himself and trust his Stage Four triad.

Howard Schultz writes in Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time (Hyperion 1999),

“Howard and Orin were both older than I was, by about ten years. Both took pay cuts to come to Starbucks but joined because they understood the passion and the potential and they believed their stock options would one day become valuable. To a lot of entrepreneurs, hiring more seasoned executives can be threatening, and actually delegating power to them is even more so. In my own case, I have to admit, it wasn’t easy. My identity had quickly become so closely tied up with that of Starbucks that any suggestion for change made me feel as if I had failed in some aspect of my job. Inside my head, it was a constant battle, and I had to keep reminding myself: These people bring something I don’t have. They will make Starbucks far better than I could alone.

Both Howard and Orin brought not only skills and experience but also attitudes and values that were different than mine. What I found, as we worked together year after year, was that Starbucks was enriched and broadened by their leadership. If I had let my ego or my fears prevent them from doing their jobs, we could never have matured into a sustainable company with strong, people-oriented values.” (p154-55)

By 1990, I had assembled a management team that worked together so tightly and synergistically that people called us “H2O” for Howard, Howard, and Orin. We stood for the vision, the soul, and the fiscal responsibility. In many respects, Howard and Orin are polar opposites, but each of us has provided an essential ingredient to Starbucks’ success.” (p 155-156)

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