Every organization and company is a tribe, or a network of tribes. A tribe is a group of 20 to 150 people that form naturally, in which everyone knows everyone else, or at least knows of them.
In this talk, Carrie Kish shows leaders how to upgrade their organization one tribe at a time. The result is unprecedented collaboration and impact.
After watching the video, you’ll have the ability to assess your workplace tribes and upgrade each to their most effect potential. The result is industry leading productivity, innovation, collaboration, communication, and job satisfaction.
In this session, you will …
- Learn to Identify the Five Stages of Culture
- Assess Your Organization’s or Your Team’s Culture
- Learn Simple and Effective Strategies for Upgrading Culture
- Identify the Core Values and Shared Values of Your Organization or Team
Speaker 1: Now, your keynote speaker, Carrie Kish.
Carrie Kish: Hi. Good morning.
Audience: Good morning.
Carrie Kish: I arrived late yesterday, and had the privilege, just in time for the conference party. I walked into your crowd, and got scooped and swept away, and joined your party. I knew not one of you. Now, I feel like I know all of you, and maybe a little better than you want me to know you.
I am super excited to be here to talk with you today because you and I do the same kind of work. We go in, and work with leaders in organizations to transform them to get better results, and that is also what you’re doing. You use Agile tools, and we use Tribal Leadership, or culture change and leadership development. What we know is that you’re our partners in doing that work in the world, and so I’m super excited to be here with you today.
Now, I know what kind of night you had last night. I promise I’m not going to fall off the stage. I promise. I know. Brian is like, “Please, would you not be so close?” What we’re going to talk about today is Leadership for Genius Tribes. How many of you in the room would consider yourself a genius? Wow. I’m going to take this poll again at the end of this session. I consider you all pretty smart. I’d say by virtue of the fact that you’re in the room, we would consider you a genius.
It’s working in your specialty, working in your area of expertise. The problem is that we have a lot of folks and a lot of the folks you work with are working in their area of specialty, they are experts at what they do, and they’re not necessarily experts at being high developed and working together well on a team. This is, how do we take experts and geniuses, and get them to work better together as a team and a tribe? That’s what we’re going to talk about today.
This is you last night, complete with the shark. I don’t know if I had more fun watching you or watching you watch each other. There was the whole dance floor thing happening. Then, up beyond the dance floor, there were all these little observation platforms. There were the watchers watching the dance floor. Then, there were people watching the people watching the dance floor. Then, after that, they ushered us out very nicely after the party, but you were not done. I tapped out at 2 a.m., and I know some of you were still out. Where were the after-party people?
Speaker 4: Here.
Carrie Kish: Yeah. I didn’t expect to see you all this morning. This is going to be an interactive session, if that happens to work. Yay. We are going to do some text to screen. If you want to get out your device, you can log in at poll … I think they’ve changed it. It’s polleverywhere.com or you can just text in. 22333 is the short code. Text STAGES, and you’ll be entered into all of the polling for the presentation today.
Just to test it out, how are you feeling this morning? Some folks are tired. Energized. Good. Once you enter the poll, you will be in the polls for the rest of the presentation. You do not have to enter again. Fantastico. Amazing. Drowsy but excited. Anybody, hangover? Yeah, yeah. Alert. Ready. You can keep texting in. Awesome. The poll is full. Okay, they’re coming. Empowered, good.
Brian mentioned we’re going to talk about tribal leadership. The work we’re known for in the world is called Tribal Leadership. What we mean by tribes is the 20 to 150 people that get together to do a piece of work, whatever it is that you’re working on. We called it a tribe rather than a team because what we got into, we got into the work with the question, why does some teams and organizations outperform others so significantly? What’s the difference? Do they have a better strategy? Do they have better systems? Do they have better processes? Do they have better structures? What is the secret to teams and organizations that outperform others?
What we found was that the answer was the culture. That wasn’t what we wanted to find because we didn’t know how to measure culture. There aren’t really a lot of great ways to measure culture, so we were a little disappointed in that finding, and didn’t know what to do about it. What we did was we embarked on an eight-and-a-half year research study, and we studied 24,000 people and dozens of different organizations all over the world. This is not just a US-centric model. It goes across the world.
I will tell you that there is varying degrees of acceptance to the word “tribe.” In the US, we use the word “tribe” very easily as it’s what we do, it’s how we clump together. We, originally, were going to call it naturally occurring groups, and the publisher said, “Wow, NOGs, that really sucks.” We switched it to tribes. There are other places in the world where that word is polarized and has more meaning. We just need to have some sensitivity around it when you take it outside of this room, but what we mean is the 20 to 150 people that get together to do a piece of work.
Why that’s significant, why that’s important is because fewer than 20, the individuals are dominant, not the culture. If we’re just talking to this table of people, and there’s no one else in the room, and someone comes up, you pause. Like your little groups that you had this morning, they were fewer than 20 for the most part. If somebody walks up, you observe them, you stop, you deal with them at an individual base. As opposed to this room, if someone walks in, we don’t pause. We don’t even notice. The culture is dominant. What we’re doing drives how things go.
We thought, “How do we measure that? How do we figure out what the culture is?” What we developed was a framework for talking about culture. We noticed that the lower performing cultures or the lower level cultures were outperformed by the higher-level cultures significantly. It’s a stage. It’s stages. It’s stage one, stage two, stage three, stage four, stage five. Not super sexy, but that’s what it is.
At the different stages, we tried to figured out, how do we measure the culture? What we measured was the language people are using and how they’re interacting with one another. That’s what I’m going to take you through this morning. What kind of language and interaction do people do at the different stages and what kind of results do they get?
At the lower performing, you can just notice. At stage one and stage two, people and organizations are not going to get the best results. Once we get to stage three, people start getting very good results. It’s something that you’re probably used to and familiar with. Moving to stage four, you can see that tribes, or that teams, or the organizations at stage four are outperforming stage three, according to our research, by 300 to 500%. That’s not insignificant.
Since we published that research, we continue to do the work, and what we’re now noticing is that higher performing tribes and can outperform stage three by up to 1600%. That’s been corroborated by studies like the Gallup Survey and in Conscious Capitalism, John Mackey and Raj Sisodia also cited that number specifically, 1600% improvement for what they call a conscious organization versus an unconscious organization, and what we would say is that’s just a stage four or a stage five tribe or team.
What is it? Stage one. Stage one isn’t something you see in organizations very often. It’s only about 2% of employed tribes. The general feeling or the general language that people use at stage one is that life sucks. Unfortunately, that was the best thing they said, and the only thing fit to print. This is a little joke about like, “I will not steal office supplies,” but really, worse things happen at stage one. That’s where embezzling happens. It’s where fancy math happens. It’s where IP gets stolen. All of those sorts of things happen in a stage one tribe. Also, workplace violence.
That’s not generally the organization you work in or the teams that you partner with in order to do this work. We don’t spend a lot of time here. Generally, what we tell people is if you find yourself in a stage one tribe, get out. Get a new tribe. Generally, folks at stage one are disenfranchised. Their basic needs are not being met, and they’re separate, and alone, and isolated. That’s how the interactions. If you look around, generally, it’s an individual, and it could be a collection of individuals.
When people first get introduced to our work, they tend to think stage one is possibly a tribe they don’t like, or a tribe that they feel sorry for, or a tribe that they don’t understand. Sometimes, people will say, “Well, are homeless people stage one?” Not normally, not always. Sometimes, that’s stage two, especially if you see them grouping up together. Gangs, I had a podcast called Leadership Unleashed, and I recently interviewed this guy who’s in a gang right now. That is a stage four organization, and you’ll see why in a minute, but they operate around values. They’re just not our values. Maybe they’re yours. I saw you guys partying last night. We’ll see. We may have some values in common.
Moving on to stage two. Stage two is a huge improvement over stage one. It’s not, “All of life is broken. Just mine. I can see that other people have it going on, but I’ve got some problems.” At stage two, my favorite stage two example is this is the California DMV. Does anybody’s DMV look like this? Yeah. Last year, I had to go in and renew my driver’s license. I go in, and I have an appointment because I’m not as stage two as the folks who show up, and then wait in line around the building for hours.
In Los Angeles, I’m from Los Angeles, so I’m going make fun of LA because I can do that. Anybody else from LA? Yeah. Okay, great. Let’s make fun of LA together. It’s really good. In LA, there are actually literally lines around the building. I had an appointment. With an appointment, I had to stand in five lines in order to get my driver’s license renewed. Five. I was standing in line, and there’s this little paper, like sheets of paper taped to the wall. On it, it says, “No food or drink.” I’m like, “What? Okay.”
There was a woman in front of me with a coffee, and a security guard, because there’s security guards in my DMV because what happens at stage two is if it degenerates, it goes to stage one, and then violence erupts, so there are security guards in my DMV. The security guard comes up to the woman in front of me and he says, “Excuse me, ma’am. You’re going to have to leave.” Not, you need to get rid of your coffee, you have to leave. I’m like, “Can’t she just …” “No, no. You have to leave. There’s no food or drink allowed in her. Get out.” She leaves, and what do we do? We laugh and complain about the system, but not too loudly because we’ll get kicked out too, and there’s this little guilty pleasure inside like, “Yes, there’s one fewer person in line in front of me.” This is what happens at stage two.
What are some of your favorite stage two tribes? You can text in. The poll will pop up in just a minute if all things go well. You can text in some of your favorite stage two tribes, organizations that you interact with. I gave DMV as an example. You could use some of your clients. Another place that this is really significant to understand … Traffic, oh my gosh. Yeah, I spend a lot of time in traffic. I’m a big fan of podcasts. My new favorite podcast is Ask Me Anything. It is so fun. I know it’s a riot. It’s super fun. IRS, insurance, TSA. I don’t know what LKU is. Political parties, oh my gosh, right? PMI, the taxation, the phone company. All right. You guys are getting into this. You know how this works. The cable company, HR.
We use Slack in our office. We’re a very small consulting team, and we don’t have HR because we’d all get fired. We have relegated HR to a Slack channel. That’s where you can post all your complaints so that you can be mocked. I highly recommend that. That’s super fun. Social security, TSA at the airport. Yes, definitely. Walmart, finance, immigration. You guys have the hang of this, so you understand.
One of the reasons that this is really significant and important for you to understand is you work on a team. Maybe your team is fewer than 20. These stages still apply to a smaller team or a smaller tribe. You’re just going to fluctuate a lot more. You’re going to fluctuate a lot more, and the culture is going to be less stable. If budgets get cut, or something gets announced that’s unpleasant, layoffs or you missed a deadline, you’re going to see the team and the tribe fall a couple of stages, maybe one or two. You guys might have a stage two day where everybody feels like, “Wow, my life really sucks.” Then, if you have a win, you’re going to also see that jump a lot more. The culture is a lot less stable on a smaller team. Above 20, there’s a lot more stability.
The other place that’s really important is, how many of you are responsible in your organization for finding work, for getting clients? Some of you. It looks like about 10% of you. People can only hear one stage above and one stage below where they’re at. If you go and talk in Agile, “We’re going to transform your team, we’re going to change the world, we’re going to make all these things better,” and you’re talking to a stage two organization or a stage two team, they don’t get it. All they care about is, are you going to make my life suck less? That’s all they care about. Tell me how you’re going to do that. At stage three, it’s a different game. We’re going to move on. Bad WiFi. You guys are awesome.
Stage three. Stage three is about half of all employed tribes. It’s a huge improvement over stage two. At stage two, it’s a culture of complaining, and generally, we get into little dyadic groups. We just clump up in pairs, and complain about the system, or complain about other people, but generally, it’s keeping your head down. Think about being in line at the DMV, at TSA, I don’t care enough about those places to do anything about it. I don’t spend enough time there to do anything about it. I take my place in the tribe, and I behave accordingly. A lot of people feel like that about their job, and they feel powerless to make a change.
At stage three, we feel a little more powerful. Stage three is what we’re trained for. Stage three is where the genius is born. Stage three is, “I’m great.” Unfortunately, I have terrible, awful, horrible, horrendous bad news for you, you’re not. Our favorite stage three superhero in LA is Kobe Bryant, well-known as a ball hog. Phil Jackson wrote a book called Eleven Rings in which he talked a lot about tribal leadership, and how did I go from having a team of geniuses, of all star players, of experts, of really, really good performers, outstanding performers, and turn them into a winning team. We had to shift from the Kobe show. We had to shift from, “If there’s a problem and you want to win, get me the ball.”
This one is a little personal for me, and I don’t know if it is for you, but I am that person on our team. If there’s a problem, I will solve it. If things are hard around here, I’ll handle it, I’ll take care of it, I’ve got your back, I got this, I’ll do it. Any of you, the fixer? Yeah, right. This is a little personal. We have to learn how to pass the ball. We have to learn how to use other people’s strengths, other people’s skills, and not just our own because the limitations, you can already see, if it’s all about me, and I’m the only one who can do that, one, people at stage tree hoard information because information is power. You probably see this with your partners that they’re not great at sharing technology at stage three. It’s, “I need to get credit for my work. It’s got my name on it.”
I’m also a bottleneck at stage three because I have to touch everything, I have to prove everything. Everybody has to come through me. It’s not because they’re bad. I was going to say it’s not because they’re stupid, but sometimes it is. We do a lot of work with physicians. In fact, I’m going to show you a little video that brings stage three to life.
Speaker 5: Lionel, glad you could make it. Can I get you a drink?
Lionel: Yeah, something soft, I am driving. Parking’s an absolute nightmare around here, isn’t it? You have to reverse into the tiniest of spaces. Still, I managed it. I mean, parking’s not exactly brain surgery, is it? And I should know.
Speaker 7: Why is that? Are you a doctor?
Lionel: Careful, not a doctor. I’m a brain surgeon. Big difference. Big difference. Yeah, I actually know a joke about this. What’s the difference between a doctor and a brain surgeon? One’s not exactly a brain surgery. The other is brain surgery. So, what do you guys do?
Speaker 8: I’m an accountant.
Lionel: That’s good, yeah. I could do with an accountant. Filling in those tax forms can get really confusing, can’t it? Still, it’s not exactly brain surgery, is it? I mean, brain surgery, believe me, is very complex. Are you an accountant too?
Speaker 7: No. I work for charity.
Lionel: That’s a very selfless job, isn’t it? I really admire you. I don’t think I can ever do what you do. I say that because it’s emotionally draining, not because it’s hard. I mean, it’s not exactly brain surgery, is it? Which, as a brain surgeon, is what I do.
Speaker 5: Lionel, here’s your drink. Lionel’s a brain surgeon, you know.
Speaker 7: Yeah, he mentioned it.
Speaker 5: Jeff, they kept you late at the space center?
Jeff: As always, yeah.
Speaker 5: Have you met Lionel?
Jeff: No. Hello, Lionel.
Lionel: Jeff, how do you earn a crust?
Jeff: I’m a scientist. I work mainly with rockets. It’s a pretty tough work. What do you do?
Lionel: Well, I don’t mean to boast, but I’m a brain surgeon.
Jeff: Brain surgery? Not exactly rocket science.
Carrie Kish: That’s called Brain Surgery Versus Rocket Science. You can find it on YouTube, and very, very fun, right? We do a lot of work with physicians. I think it’s payback or karma, something happened. It’s fun to make fun of brain surgeons. They are the biggest egos in the room. When you walk into a room, the brain surgeon is the most trained, biggest ego in the room. Unlike, whatever, you can deal with it.
Last year in November, I ride horses. I used to ride horses. I don’t ride horses right now. Last year in November, I was thrown off my horse, and I broke my back, and became really good friends with a brain surgeon who put me back together. He did a very good job. I can now walk, and stand, and travel, and do all the things that they thought I might not be able to do again. Thank you. Thank you. I even danced last night, so it’s all good. Now, instead of horseback riding, my biggest leadership challenge right now is dancing Argentine Tango, and West Coast Swing with my husband, and following.
What are some of your favorite stage three tribes? I mentioned physicians. You can text on in. The poll will come up in just a moment. It’s a function of how fast the WiFi is, right? Bad WiFi, hahaha. Some of your favorite stage three tribes. Yeah, yeah. Essentially, it’s any professional. Vanilla Ice, you guys are awesome. Architects. Google, interesting, interesting. Here’s this thing about the stage model. It’s a spiral model. Crossfit. Nice. It is a spiral model. You don’t transcend, and then lose everything that was below. You can’t be part of a high-performing team if you’re not a genius, if you don’t have something to contribute.
People ask us in every single presentation, let me just handle this question for you, can we move from stage two to stage four? Can we just skip? No, you can’t. You have to be good at something. You have to be good at something. When we can joke that the Agile community is stage three. It has to be. You have to be good at something, and you got to transcend it, and be able to work on a team. You need to bring a lot of great people together, a lot of good players together to work together. Actors, middle management, architects. Millennials, interesting.
A lot of people would argue that millennials are stage two. I get a lot of beef about the millennials. I love the millennials. I have four children. Two are millennials and two haven’t been categorized yet. I have four boys. They’re 17, 18, 21, and 24. One is a mechanical engineer. One is a mechanic, a motorcycle mechanic. He wants to build custom Harleys or whatever, because I’m not the only person who wants to live dangerously in my life. Let’s see. Number three is going to Embry-Riddle to be an aeronautical engineer because he thinks it really is rocket science. Number four hasn’t figured out what he wants to do yet. Thank God. Lawyers. Executive leadership, absolutely. Consultants, speakers, developers, very, very fun, right?
Stage four, this may not be the image you expect for stage four. Stage four moves from I-me-my culture where we do something called hub-and-spoke. At stage three, I connect with in dyads, but again all that information has to go through me. You’re my minion, and you’re my minion, and you’re my minion, and you’re my minion, and you’re my minion, but I do not want you talking to each other. It’s not because you’re bad, it’s not because you’re wrong, but you’ll probably make mistakes if you don’t check with me. If I have more minions than that guy over there, then I win. It’s about who has the most minions is the winner.
At stage four, we transcend that. It becomes less about me and more about we. The language shifts from the “I, me, and my,” and it transcends that into the “we, us, and unfortunately, also them.” At stage four, we know who our competition is. We go in, and we do work. Once every two years, we go into the LA SWAT team. They have us come in to teach negotiation, values-based negotiation. I will tell you without a doubt, they are better negotiators than we are. Hands down, they are better negotiators than we are, but they like the piece of technology that we have, and so we go in, and we teach it.
While we’re there, it’s a small group, and it’s men in LA. They are generalists, not specialists. Every person on the team has to do every job. Because of that, it tends to be mostly men, if not exclusively men. There are other SWAT teams where they specialize, and they say that the women are better negotiators, and fill some of the specialty roles better than men. That’s just how it is.
Anyway, we’re with the LA SWAT team with about 35 men in the room, and they’re all on call. We know that part of the agreement about being there is that if they get paged because they wear pagers, we have to stop the session, let them deploy, and then we carry on. A dozen pagers go off, and we stepped back, and a dozen guys jumped up, and they’re getting ready to move, and the youngest most junior member of the team goes up to the most senior member of the team. This guy’s 6’4″. He’s this giant. He’s got all the decorations on his shoulder. He says, “Excuse me, sir. You’re not fit to deploy.” I’m like, “Wow, I love experiential leadership training. This should be good.” He says, “Oh, right. Tom, you’re on the mission. Mike, you’re in charge.” He sits down, and they leave.
I said, “Well, what, what, what just happened?” He says, “Oh, well, at the morning huddle this morning, I told the team that I’ve got a cold, and, um, I took some cold medicine, and one of our core values is fitness. And so, I’m not fit to deploy because if I go out on cold medicine, I don’t just endanger myself, I endanger the team, I endanger the public, and I endanger the person we’re going out to protect.”
That, by the way, is what they call the person they’re going out to arrest. In order for the SWAT team to get called, you have to have hostages and things. It’s not like you’re allegedly committing a crime. They call that the person they’re going out to protect. Very aikido, very protect-my-enemy thing. I am super. We are so inspired by the kind of leadership and the kind of culture we see at the LA SWAT team, and it has to be like that. They have to be of one mind. They have to have each other’s backs. They are deployed all over an area, and they have to know exactly.
It’s like at stage four, you know what the other person is thinking because they’re thinking the same what you’re thinking because it’s all about the values. We have the same values. The team is built around values. We make decision based on values. When I know that everyone on my team makes decisions based on the same values, we make the same decisions. The values are in charge, not the hierarchy, not the network, not the organization. They didn’t have to fill out any papers. They didn’t have to have a meeting. They didn’t have to check with anybody. It was just like, “Our values say this, boom, boom, decisions made, go.” That’s a government organization. How many of work with government organizations? I’ve been hearing a lot of about that. Yes, right? Probably not the experience you see on a regular basis.
What are some of your favorite stage four tribes? What do you see? The Dallas Mavericks, yes. Teams, absolutely. Yeah, the Brazilian National Soccer team during the times they used to kick ass because we suck now. It comes from a Brazilian because, yeah, you can make fun of you, we cannot. The Walmart Agile community, seal team six, the army, leadership. One of my favorite stories of stage four, and it’s a really great leadership book that has a lot of … The Dutch, oh my goodness, people. Clowns, the government, the military. Okay, that can be lots of fun.
One of my favorite leadership books is … Okay, I’m not touching politics today, but I did love what Obama said about Trump, orange is the new black. I love that. Very good. I can make fun of the Catholic because I’m Catholic. Great. You get the idea. You can see. A stage four tribe outperforms a stage three tribe. You can just see. We share information. We make decisions based on values. We can move faster. We can do more. The Fantastic Four. All right, people, we’re moving.
Stage five is very few. It’s only 2% of the employed tribes. Essentially, it’s about changing the world. It’s about making history. One of our favorite examples is this little company out in LA called QLess. They’re brilliant. Talk about geniuses. One went to MIT, one went to Caltech, and these guys are super smart. Their big outrage, they’ve done the math, is that you spend an average of two-and-a-half years of your life waiting in line, and they would like to give you that time back, and so they’ve developed an app that I can virtually wait. They’ve sold it to some DMVs. DMV Texas, I hear, sucks less than DMV LA because you can use this technology. Doctors’ offices are using it. Emergency rooms are using it. They’re not the only ones doing it, but, essentially, they want their kids to look at pictures of people waiting in line, and not get it, not understand it.
I used to be a youth minister. I taught about confirmation for 16 years, and I have four teenagers. They’re now young adults than teenagers, but I really, really love the millennials. I was teaching this retreat, and I was trying to get the kids back inside like that. They’re coming in, and I said to one of the girls, “Hey, you need to hang up your phone.” She says, “Mrs. Kish, why do you call it hanging up the phone? You just need to turn it off.” She says, “I’m kidding you. I’m kidding you.” I’m like, “You little sassy thing, get inside,” but they’ve never seen a phone that hangs up on the wall. Why do you call it dialing? When’s the last time you dialed a phone? I don’t even know phone numbers anymore. You just push somebody’s name, and it shows up.
Stage five is about changing how we interact with our world. It’s changing history. It’s making something significantly different. Now, because most of us are very stable at stage three, we see a model like this, a hierarchical stage model, and we assume that stage five is where we want to go because if we were good, and we were smart, and we were perfect, and good at what we did, and we’re actual geniuses, we’d be stage five. Our message to you is you don’t want stage five teams. They’re incredibly unstable.
I’m currently working with two stage-five teams. One is in Wyoming, and I led a retreat for them, and I have never seen such chaos and pandemonium because every day is about changing the world. They’re also funded by a millionaire, Billionaire Aras, who has more money than cents. Every time she gets an idea, she just throws money at it. Any time she wakes up with an idea or she has an idea in the shower, she goes in, and the team has to implement it today, now, and it is chaos. It is so chaotic that I got hired because one of the guys on the team was … They couldn’t work well together. I got hired to come in and help them work better together essentially.
I’m at this retreat, and the question is, how can we help … We’re recording, so okay, I’ll be careful. I was going to tell you her name. How can we help this woman work better with this consultant, this external consultant that they have? She said, “I just don’t feel safe working with him. He’s a bully, and I actually, literally, don’t feel safe working with him.” Most of us don’t have that problem in our workplace. She says, “I don’t feel safe.”
Here’s the conversation that ensued, it’s Wyoming, “Well, we could get her a gun.” That’s the answer? Then, somebody says, “Well, we shouldn’t get her a gun because, you know, statistics show that more often a gun is used against a woman, her own gun would be used against her, or she’d hurt herself with it, as opposed to being able to protect herself with it. So, let’s not get her a gun, but I do have bear mace in my truck. I could go get her bear mace.” Then, the next conversation was whether or not bear mace would take this consultant down.
This is what I’m talking about. Stage five is crazy. It’s fun, but I don’t want to work there every day. It’s good for stories, but wow. The goal is stable stage four teams that can do stage five plays when necessary. One of my favorite examples of that is Virgin Galactic. I got to do a leadership, and we had 35 of the top execs from Virgin. They had stable stage four teams that are capable of doing stage five work. Just take a look. It’s pretty rare that you see a stable stage five team. I’ll give you a couple more examples as we go. All right, time check, doing good.
We’ve got some polls for you, and these are easier to interact with when they show up, maybe. There we go. What’s the dominant stage of your primary work tribe? You just text in the number, one, two, three, four, or five. There you go. I was going to say if it’s stage one, get a new tribe or install metal detectors. There’s a lot of stage three. Primarily stage three.
What stage is the Agile community? Here’s the thing, a conference like this, actually, is stage five. It incorporates a lot of the other elements. There can be stage two like, “Oh my God. My head is full. That speaker really sucked,” or some logistics aren’t working, tech is not working. Whatever it is, that can be stage two. There’s stage three, obviously. We’re experts sharing information with one another. There’s stage three.
There’s stage four. We’re all about teams and tribes. I think stage four dancing last night was pretty awesome. Is the shark in the room? That was pretty awesome, right? Super, super fun. That took some thought and planning, unless he has that and he just wears it on Friday nights. I’m not sure, because I have some stuff like that, but I’m crazy and unconventional. I have ball gowns and other weird things that I might wear to the office just for fun, but I don’t have a shark suite. Stage five because something different is happening here. You’ve got a look at what your Agile community looks like, what you think it is. Moving, there we go.
What stage are most of your clients, teams or partners, however you call them? The folks you work with, what stage are they at? Just notice, if you are talking to a client, or a partner, a team that’s stage two, you need to teach them and help them figure out how to make their lives suck less. If you’re talking to a client or partner that is stage three, you need to be telling them how you’re going to make them great. It’s one-on-one, “I am going to make you great. I am going to make you great. You investing in me is going to make you look good.” That’s what they need to know.
At stage four, it’s like, “How do we make this team great? How do we make a difference? How do we serve the mission?” is the conversation we start getting into. How do I make this a value’s play? I have some friends in the Agile community. It’s part of how we ended up here. I’ve got a couple of podcasts with some folks from the Agile community. We mashed up Agile and Tribal Leadership, which is a fun concept.
In my office, my first introduction to Scrum, I almost lost my mind. My team doesn’t scrum well, but they think they do, and they taught me Scrum. They started with time boxing because they thought that was safe. Then, we got to the end of the round, and they weren’t done, so they just added five minutes. I swear to God, my head exploded. I’m third generation military family. My clocks all change at exactly the same time, not because of me, because of my dad. I actually switch them when he’s gone. Then, every time he comes over … I have a couple that I just messed with because it’s fun. It’s like, “Watch my dad’s OCD.” He walks and he’s like, “That clock is two minutes off.” How do you live with yourself? That did not work out well.
My team thought like, “Wow, Carrie doesn’t like Scrum. We got to be careful.” Then, we teach a mash-up version of Scrum to some of our clients. Then, my business partner, his name is Dave Logan, he teaches the session, and then sets the room loose. We’ve got 50 people, and he’s like, “Okay. Now, do it. Good luck. You’re the product owner. You’re the Scrum master. Have fun.” He gives them a 15-minute lesson, “Go.” I’m watching this thing and I’m like, “Oh wow.”
At some point, I’m also an executive coach, I know there a lot of coaches, I’ve been coaching for 25 years. From organizations, I’ve been the president of the International Coach Federation of Los Angeles. I’ve work for Tony Robbins. I’ve worked for the Coaches Training Institute. I have a lot of coaching experience. I see this thing going down, and I’m like, “Oh my gosh. We’ve got to stop this. We’ve got to stop it now.” I jumped up, and I just take charge, and they’re over on the corner laughing at me. They’re like, “Look at Carrie screaming.” I’m like, “Hello. It’s not that I can’t do it. It’s that you do it badly.” You guys do it way better than we do. I’m still a total mess. Anyway, we talked about the significance of that.
What do we do about it? How do we move our teams and tribes? How do we get them from where they are to where they need to be? The first thing is don’t participate in the culture of complaining at stage two. An example of this is when our kids were little, my husband and I had four boys under the age of seven. It’s like having a herd of raccoons in your house. It’s insane. We got in to the silent competition of whose life sucks worse. That makes sense, right?
At one point, I think I slept two nights in a row, and so I woke up feeling like a genius. I was like, “Wow, this sucks. I’m not doing it anymore.” I did not sit him down for a talk. I did not tell him I was changing the rules. I just decided to stop complaining, just personally, because I couldn’t live with myself anymore. Instead of complaining, I looked for all the things I sorted for, all the things I’m grateful for, all the things that I’m excited about, all the brilliance of our children.
It took him exactly three days. I’m not even kidding you. Now, we’re overachievers, and we’re super competitive, but it took him three days to go from complaining to competing with me about whose life is better as opposed to his life sucks worse. That’s a huge improvement in our home that we moved from a stage two, my life sucks culture, to a stage three, I’m great and you’re not culture. We’ve since moved on, and it’s even better than that. I will tell you, do not make the mistake of going in, and saying, “There will be no complaining here,” because you will be the new favorite thing to mock. It will be great fun, and they will have fun at your expense.
The other tips from getting from stage two to stage three, build individual skills. People have to be good at something. Training what you’ll do actually helps your partners and clients move from stage two to stage three very often because you’re building their skills. You’re building their strengths. You’re helping them figure out their strengths, and you’re helping them communicate better. The act of investing in you and your work builds the tribe from two to three. Focus on strengths, provide training, coaching, and mentoring, and create and managed accountability structures. At stage two people need to be held accountable.
At stage three, people do it because they can’t not. At stage three, people want to win. They’re in it to win. You don’t need to hold them accountable. They’re just going to do it. At stage four, it’s about serving the mission and people can’t not do it. It’s the values play. They’re just living according to their values, but at stage two, we need to provide a lot of accountability structures.
Notice, people hate being held accountable. You got to be creative about that. Very often what we do is we try to manage people. I will tell you, it is much better and easier to manage systems and processes, which is again what you do, and lead people. Manage the systems and processes, and lead the people because people hate being managed. In my office, the big joke is, “Carrie is unmanageable.” I’ll go with that.
Did anyone, besides me, gets stuck in the southwest nonsense last week? I’m the only one? A couple back there, okay. You heard about it, I’m sure. I was not very far from home. I could have driven home in the amount of time it took me to figure it out. I was in San Francisco. I was at SFO, and my flight was the second flight in San Francisco to get canceled. It didn’t get canceled right away. I’m sitting there, I show up, and they’re like, “All computers went down.” “Oh, hahaha, right.” This is Southwest. It’s fun.
They were awesome. I don’t know if you had the same experience I had. They were all-hands-on-deck. They got everybody. Everybody they had, they got out there talking to people. That’s a good way to handle this thing. They were communicating. They gave updates even when they had no information. “Computers are down. We don’t know why, and we can’t fix them, and we don’t know when they’re coming back up,” but they told you that every 10 or 15 minutes. They kept coming out, and saying, “Nope, computers are still down. Hey, computers just went up again. Let’s load up the Denver flight, but you need a paper ticket. If you have an electronic boarding pass, we can’t let you on. Go to a counter and get a paper ticket.”
Now, I stand in line. I get my paper ticket for LA, not for Denver. I am so glad I wasn’t going to Denver because they loaded up that plane. While they were loading the plane, the computers went down again. Now, those people were stuck on the plane. That sucks. I’m really glad that that wasn’t me. When they finally came on after about an hour, I was like, “I’ll play along.” They had people giving out snack. They brought up water. They were doing a really nice job. We’re having a good time. Everybody is like, “Oh, yeah. We’ll get there. Whatever.”
Then, they come on, and they announced, “Okay, planes are going to start flying again. Computers are going to come up,” but when they do, we’re not getting back on the schedule, and so we are cancelling the next six. These six flights are now canceled.” That was one of mine. Mine was number two that was canceled. These six flights are now canceled, and our computers are still down, so we can’t help you. We can’t rebook you. By the way, it’s the same computer when you go online, so that won’t work. It’s the same computer if you call, so that won’t work. Maybe just hang tight.
Nobody hang tight. That went from a stage three, stage four tribe to a bunch of people panicking and lining up. I wish I had a taken picture, and I didn’t. This is as best as I could get. It was pandemonium. What do I do? I’m like, “Oh, no, no, no, no, no. I’m out.” I don’t check bags. I have resources. The tip is to move from stage two to stage three. Invest. Invest time, energy or money, whatever it is you need to do to get yourself out of there. That’s very often what they’re doing with you. They’re investing, time, energy, and money to make an upgrade.
What I did was I grabbed my bags and walked over to Virgin. I said, “Please sell me a ticket. I am a refugee from Southwest. Can you get me home?” They did for $235. It was great. I saw two days later, there were still people sleeping at SFO. I’m like, “Oh my God. Thank God that’s not me,” but the short point is invest, invest. Folks invest in you, and that helps them get from stage two to stage three.
How do we get from stage three to stage four? Listen for values. Use the big four questions. I’m going to teach you those. Build triads based on values, and use your core values as a primary decision making tool. I’ll make these slides available. I’ll get them to you or Jessica. Then, you guys can post somewhere them wherever you want, but, for sure, it’s open source. All of our stuff is open source, so you can use it in any way. You can walk out of here and teach this presentation if you want to whomever you want. We have lots of free tools and cools stuff, and keep taking photos, and taking notes, whatever you want to do, but just to know we’ll make this all available for you.
Listen for values. You’re actually really good at it, and you might not know that you’re good at it. How many of you, especially with all your coach training, there are a lot of coaches in the room. Where are all the coaches? Coaches, by nature of your training, are very good at listening for values, and addressing people at the level of values. We’re going in for the transformation. The tools and the skills that we use are really just the means to the end. The end is, how do we make this team work better so that they can get better results? How do we make that happen? Generally, if we can do that at the level of values, we have a lot less conflict.
I will tell every person in this room who’s in any kind of relationship, this is a handy tip to have. People will yield their position if you give them a way to honor their values. Most of the time, people think the only way to honor their values is by their position. If your wife comes to you and has a problem, she thinks this is the only way that you’re going to be able to take care of it, but if you understand that it’s not about that, it’s about the values underneath. If you can understand the values, which is essentially, “Tell me you love me, and you’re going to keep me safe.” That’s what it’s all about generally, “Tell me you love me, tell me I’m pretty, and tell me you’re going to keep me safe.” Generally, that works, right?
I talk a lot. I think the reason God gave me four boys is because I use more words in a day than all five of them in my life put together. Generally, my husband just needs to wrap his arms around me and go, “Shh, shh, shh.” It’s okay, no more words.
Listen for values. You’re really good at it, but I’m going to give you a couple of examples. We went into Zappos, which is one of our favorite stage four tribes. I’m a big fan of shoes, and I’m a big fan of Zappos. We’re friends with Tony, and we’re friends at the Downtown Project. We have a good time there, but we went in in the early days. They actually called us, we didn’t call them.
Tony read Tribal Leadership, and he said, “Dude, you got to come up here, and see what we’re doing. We do this. You just wrote about what we do.” I said, “Yeah, it’s a research study. We didn’t make this up. We observed it.” He’s like, “Come up and observe it live.” We came, and we took some video. I’m going to show you some video of the early days at Zappos before they did tours, but we were taking a tour.
Have any of you been on the tour of Zappos? No. It’s fun. It’s one of the more wholesome things to do in Vegas, if you’re looking for something to do while your hangover wears off. A couple of videos, they’re very short. I might have you tame the sound on the video unless you want me to just because it gets loud. You got it? Thank you. All right.
Speaker 8: We’re here at Zappos headquarter.
Carrie Kish: Christmas tree. I forgot to mention it’s July.
Speaker 8: Actually, there’s a Dance, Dance Revolution terminal right in the lobby.
Carrie Kish: Bottle water. Okay. Based on that, what do you think some of Zappos’ values might be. You can just text in one word. If your word is more than one word, use a hyphen because we’re going to build a word cloud. Based on what you saw, not based on what you know, based on what you saw, what do you think some of Zappos’ values might be? Yeah, fun, have fun, love, comfort, happiness, playful, amazeballs. I love that.
Hydrate. This is so funny. Yes, they provide free bottled water to all of the employees because it’s Vegas, and they are a call center. They have very, very young employees who go out, and party, and come in hangover. They have determined, and discovered, and this might be a hot tip for you all, that hydrated employees work better than dehydrated employees. Drink some water, people. All right, we’re going to take a pause, and we’re going to watch one more video, and then we’ll revisit the poll. One more video.
Robbie Richman was taking the video, and he was 35. Blonde girl, it’s like squirrel. What you can see here is just notice how their offices, their cubes, the cubes are decorated. There’s stuff hanging from the ceiling. There’s a load-bearing beam decorated as a palm tree. There are swim trunks hanging from the ceiling. They’re clapping. If you go on a tour at Zappos, a conga line might break out, not unlike the dance floor last night. They’re all waving. They’re happy to see you. There’s all kinds of stuff. Take a look at what you see.
In a minute, you’re going to see Donovan, who at the time was their corporate coach. There’s streamers hanging from the ceiling. You can see over here, there are vines hanging from the ceiling, and there’s a banana right behind Donovan’s head that you’re going to see in a minute. That is where Tony Hsieh, the chief monkey. They call it monkey row where all the executive sit. Tony sits on a cube just like everyone else. You can see the Tribal Leadership is actually there. They’ve got books. There are only two people at the Zappos office that have offices. One is the corporate coach and one is the corporate lawyer. Nobody else has offices, including the CEO and including the CFO.
What do you think some of their values are based on what you just saw there? You can just add to your poll. Being different, egalitarian, taking breaks, healthy, encouraging, enjoyment, and the poll is full. Thank you. I just caught that. You get the idea. You are very, very good at watching for values. I showed you two less than 15-second clips, and you could grab values.
We are telling people our values all day long. One of the best ways to understand and learn about someone’s values is when they’re pissed off. When they come to you with a complaint, they are normally telling you that their values have been violated. If you can figure that out, and address them at the level of values rather than address them at the level of complaint, you’re going to get better results. You’ll get somewhere faster. Just some tips there. I’m going hustle through to the rest here.
The big four questions. What’s working? What’s not? What can be done? What else? Essentially, we use to go in as social scientists with a clipboard of authority, and hundreds of questions that we would ask. What we found is we get more information with these four questions than we get with anything else. You can ask these individually one-on-one. You can ask this with a team.
The syntax is very important. What can be done? Not what can I do now, what can you do now, what can we do, not what should we do, what can be done because the way you get the answer gives you a lot of information. We should, we could, you should, I should. It tells you what stage you’re at, and what kind of relationship you’re in with that person. These are very, very helpful.
The what else question is helpful because it often gives you quick fixes like they’ll say things like, “The coffee sucks,” and you can go to the CEO, and say, “Dude, buy a better coffee.” I had a team once there in Canada, and they could not get honey for the break room. It was a big problem. No matter how much they asked, they couldn’t get honey. I walked into the SVP, and I said, “I brought her a honey bear.” Through Canadian customs, I managed to smuggle it in. Sorry. I said, “Honey, you’re a hero. Go, go, honey. Always have honey on the break room.” The what else question can get you quick, easy fixes that actually can improve the culture.
Build Triads. The structural relationship, we talked about that hub-and-spoke, and all of my minions at stage three. What happens at stage four is that I realized if everything has to go through me, it’s too slow. I start connecting other people because I know that things will go faster if I can connect them at the level of their strengths, and they don’t need me involved. I start connecting other people, and we start taking care of our relationships better. We start networking our relationships better. We start working as a team. We’re grounded in values, and we have each other’s backs.
This is an example of our team. This is my partners. I’m the CEO. Dave is our founding partner and president. Jack is our CFO. We have great relationships. I have a relationship with Jack. I have a relationship with Dave. I know how to take care of those. On a bad day, Jack might come to me, and say, “Dave is being really difficult today, and here are my complaints.”
At stage three, not because I’m bad or wrong, but at stage three, I say, “I got this. I’ll handle it. I’ll take care of Dave. I’m good at taking care of Dave. I got this. I’ll manage this. I’m a good mom. I got this,” and I use this as an opportunity to strengthen my relationship with Jack and to strengthen my relationship with Dave, but it doesn’t necessarily strengthen our relationship with each other. Sometimes, it does damage to the relationship. If I say, “Yeah, Dave can be like that, blah, blah, blah.” Then, I go to Dave and I say, “Hey, Jack’s got this complaint. How do we fix it?” Then, he gives me all of his complaints about Jack, and I’m like, “Yeah, I totally understand.”
At stage four, we all get together in the same room, and we take care of each other, or even if we don’t, my goal is not to build my relationship with each of them, it’s to build their relationship with each other, even at the expense of my relationship with them. It’s much more important that they can work together. I know how to do my relationship, handle my relationships one-on-one. I know how to do that, as opposed to, how do I strengthen all the other relationships?
The smallest functioning unit that we saw of stage four was a triad, but it gets bigger. You might have triads of four people, five people, six people, seven people, a Scrum team might triad up. It’s, how do we all have each other’s backs so that we can move faster, so that we can trust each other more, so that we can build trust, so that we can work at the level of values?
It is a simple concept, and it is harder to operationalize because, under stress, we go to our strengths. Under stress, we go to stage three. When we’re having a problem in our relationships, that tends to be stressful. We tend to go to stage three and not to stage four. It takes a constant commitment to values, and a constant reminder to stay in a stage four place. Give it a go, and support each other in it. I’m going to show you one of my favorite stage four videos. It’s sweet. You might recognize it. Help.
Han Solo: I’m sure Luke wasn’t on that thing when it blew.
Princess Leia: He wasn’t. I can feel it.
Han Solo: You love him, don’t you?
Princess Leia: Yes.
Han Solo: All right. I understand. Fine. When he comes back, I won’t get in the way.
Princess Leia: It’s not like that at all. He’s my brother.
Carrie Kish: Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. All right. That’s just a little stage four fun. I can’t use that everywhere. Thanks for letting me use that. Upgrading stage four to stage five is used sparingly. Remember, you’re not going to go here often, but if you have a team that needs to get there, here are some ways to do it.
Everybody know Charity: Water? One of the things I love about this organization is how pissed off they are, and you don’t know it, but they’re outraged that there are people on this planet that don’t have access to safe plain drinking water. That is their passion, that is their outrage, that is their commitment. They are also outraged at how badly run nonprofit organizations are, and that for every dollar you give them, they spend ten, soliciting more money from you. Their commitment is every dollar that they raise publicly goes to drilling wells. When they have the money to drill the well that you invested in, they send you the GPS coordinates. You can go on and look at it. Discovering your outrage is a way to get to stage four … I’m sorry, to get to stage five
Upgrade your competition. I mentioned at stage two, the competition is whose life sucks more. Whoever’s life sucks more wins. If I can make your life suck more than mine, then I win. Think DMV. At stage three, the competition is who’s greater. I need to prove all day long that I’m better than you. I do it with my credentials, I do it with my experience, I do it with my skills, I do it with my strengths, I do it all day long because I know, and when you drop all the …
One of my favorite statement to use with stage three teams is, “You’re right, but no one cares.” Try that one on. You’re right but no one cares. If you could get them to care that you’re right, then we could get somewhere. Being right doesn’t help. Stage four competition is us against them. Think of the sports team.
Stage five competition, we went into Pixar, and we asked them, “Who’s your competition?” They said, “Hair.” We said, “What?” They said, “Yeah, did you see Toy Story? It looks like Legos.” I love the Lego challenge, “But did you see Toy Story, it looks like Legos. We can’t render hair.” They pulled the best of the best into a conference room, and have them work on coding, and whatever it is animators do until they figured out, and cracked a code on hair. When they did it, they made a whole movie about it.
Has anyone seen Brave? Yes, you have little girls. It is a tribute to hair. It’s the girl’s hair, the bear’s hair. If you look closely, you can see the forest is furry. They figured out how to do hair, and they made the whole movie all about hair. Then, they all went back to their day jobs. They didn’t stay in that conference room. Upgrading your competition. Think about what could I compete with? Who could I compete with? What could be my competition to get to stage five.
Create some time pressure. Steve Jobs have the luxury of knowing that he didn’t have enough time on this planet to do all the work that he wanted to do. That is true of all of us. I just created a time pressure for you. You’re welcome, but you can gain a fight time, and that’s what you do. Very often, creating some time pressure, creating some time constraints is what forces decisions and keeps people on track. Creating some time pressure can elevate you to stage five.
Ask the question, how do we make history? How do we change the world? How do we do something different? This is an actual photo from space. It was super cool. Virgin actually got that rocket into space. Very, very fun.
A typical tribe might look like this. You can see the outliers. Those green dots are maybe stage one, probably stage two. You can see some hub-and-spoking. You can see a little bit of triading. At the end of one month, by building some new relationships based on values, you can upgrade that tribe that we saw a minute ago from there to there, by building just a few new relationships based on values.
I don’t have any more time with you today. I will stay after four questions. Do you think about what you will do, and what you will stop doing to upgrade your genius tribe? You can get some free stuff, and stay in touch with me here. Carriekish.com, it does not have these slides, but it has all kinds of downloadable, shareable code. Nice. Carriekish.com. Podcast is Leadership Unleash, and firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to stay in touch. Thank you.