I’ve read Tribal Leadership and it’s not you, it’s me. I have some gripes with this kind of books…

Tribal Leadership (2008) is a famous business book by Dave Logan, John King & Halee Fischer-Wright and it was the next book in the Madriagil book club. I don’t usually read business books but I’m a firm follower of the book club.

The book, basically, affirms that tribes are the key to the success of companies (Ok) and that can be classified into 5 stages:

  1. Life sucks!
  2. My life sucks!
  3. I’m great!
  4. My life’s great!
  5. Life’s great!

I have exactly the same problem I had with The Five Dysfunctions of a teamit sounds scientific but it isn’t. I can’t trust a book that says that 2% or 18% of the companies are in a specific stage… how do you get those numbers? how can you classify a big company so neatly… at least some teams will belong to stage 2 and others to stage 4… Dunbar’s number is also used to set the maximum number of participants of a tribe. I have gripes with that neat (150) number. And Malcolm Gladwell also uses it!

The last chapters discuss triads as the magic recipe for success and accountability and I’m sorry, I can’t grasp their magic.

Instead of telling a story it uses examples and experiences from real companies (at least one has closed down). Examples and anecdotes are always fun but it’s difficult to extract a theory for success from them… survivor bias.

Again, after 5 dysfunctions, we can classify success or failure with 5 buckets. I’m a skeptic of a world so simple that problems can be differentiated with a nice 5 bullet point slide. I have to say that lots of parts of stage 3 tribes resonated with my life experiences, but again also some parts of all stages…

I think the world (and teams and companies) are complex systems and it’s usually impossible to simplify problems to “your tribe is currently in stage 2 and you have to move it to stage 3”.

But if it helps you, who I am to judge, go for it! The AMAZING Corinna Baldauf (of Retromat fame, keynote in CAS15) made a 1-page cheat sheet to help you guide tribes: