Monthly Archives: October 2018

Book Notes : Great Boss Dead Boss

Great Boss, Dead Boss: How to exact the very best performance from your company and not get crucified in the process by Edgar H. Schein
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
This is a book written in a story style which presents the idea of tribes and how these are how people in a business operate.

The book presents tribal dimensions:

  1. Individuals are socially, emotionally, and psychologically defined by their tribal membership.
  2. Individual Security (IS): Individuals act to reinforce their security when under threat.
  3. Individual Value (IV): Individuals act to reinforce their self-worth when their security is not under threat.
  4. Tribal Security (TS): Tribes act to secure their self-preservation if their security is under threat.
  5. Tribal Value (TV): Tribes act to reinforce their self-worth when their security is not under threat.

Though the book various things happen which are then evaluated against the dimensions in a positive or negative way.  Initially the idea of positive tribal and individual security is presented as a bad thing resulting in complacency, process focus, rules and regulations, in fighting and backstabbing, taking no risk or innovation however during the rest of the book TS+ and IS+ are presented as good things – to me security is more nuanced than positive or negative.

The book presents a continuum from corporate failure at TS-IS- up to TV+IV+, as follows, with actions to progress to the next stage.

Status Action
TV+ IV+ Maintain the status quo.  Set new just cause.
TV- IV+ Work to improve TV+. Reinforce super tribe.  Emphasis just cause.
TV- IV- Reaffirm individual’s capability.  Define common enemy.
TV+ IV- Identify source of IV-, create new source of IV+
TS+ IS+ Define and create new source of TV+ Create new superordinate tribe.  Create source of IV+
TS- IS+ Reinforce the rite of passage.  Reinforce common enemy.  Reinforce just cause.
TS- IS- Redefine source of power, just cause, common enemy.  Replace leadership.
TS+ IS- Reaffirm IV+, beware of sub-tribes, seeing others as common enemy.  Replace leadership or reeducate leaders.

The book presents tribal attributes:

  1. A strong tribe must have a common enemy.
  2. A strong tribe has clearly defined symbols.
  3. A strong tribe offers a super ordinate identity to all sub-tribes.
  4. A strong tribe has a credible, just cause for its continued existence.
  5. A strong tribe has an accepted rite of passage.
  6. A strong tribe has clear external measures of success.
  7. A strong tribe understands and protects its source of power.
  8. A strong tribe knows how it compares to the “untouchables.”
  9. The criteria for tribal membership are clear and credible.
  10. Tribes communicate in a non-traditional, subjective, and intuitive manner.
  11. A strong tribe develops its own unique language.
  12. Tribal roles are fundamentally different from accepted functional roles.
  13. Strong tribes record and celebrate significant events that reinforce their identity and value.
  14. A strong tribe has a clearly defined and well-known justice mechanism.
  15. A strong tribe has a clearly defined icon that embodies the tribal value.
  16. A strong tribe has a walled city–a place of refuge where things of value to the tribe are kept.
  17. A strong tribe possesses objects of value that embody the tribe’s value.
  18. A strong tribe has a revered figurehead.
  19. A strong tribe celebrates and cares for the skills, tools, and implements required for its prosperity.
  20. A strong tribe expects unquestioning loyalty.
  21. A strong tribe has clearly defined roles, responsibilities, values, authority, power structure, and chain of command.
  22. A strong tribe has a leader dedicated to the tribe’s success.
  23. Strong leaders have capable mentors whose psychological limits exceed their own.

The book provides a grid detailing communication between tribes and individuals and their impact.

Communication Result
Enemy Tribe to Tribe Potential to harm or destroy the tribe, creates TV- or TS-
Ally Tribe to Tribe Has potential to strengthen the tribe. Creates TV+ or TS+.
Enemy Tribe to Individual Expulsion, eviction, discipline, creates IV- or IS-
Ally Tribe to Individual Promotion, join inner circle, seat on the board creates IV+ or IS+
Enemy Individual to Tribe Company sabotage, leak secrets, spread rumours, creates TV- or TS-
Ally Individual to Tribe Supports the just cause, attack common enemy, creates TV+ or TS+
Enemy Individual to Individual Dislike one another, threats and accusations. Creates IV- or IS-
Ally Individual to Individual Good friends, supportive creates IV+ or IS+

The book presents a list of tribal and organisational roles, this is not very well explained and magically the book restructures the organisation by magic.

Tribal Role Traditional Organisational Role
Hunter Sales person
Farmer Manufacturing
Care giver Human resources
Cheif CEO
Elder Board member
Herder Accountant
Story Teller Advertising
Witch doctor Financial analyst
Spy Public relations
Builder Maintenance

 

Book Notes : Humble Inquiry

Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling by Edgar H. Schein
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The book introduces three types of humility basic humility – the status in society you are born with, optional humility – the way we feel when in the presence of someone who has done great thing and here-and-now humility – when you are dependent on someone else. The humble inquiry comes from a place of interest and curiosity with here-and-now humility, this maximises the interest in the other person and minimises bias and preconceptions.

The book talks about espoused values, the values which we openly talk about e.g freedom, equality, etc, however these are sometimes in contradiction to tacit assumptions which are the values which are actually in action, e.g. poor education, discrimination. The problem with the humble inquiry is that cultures which value task accomplishment over relationship building and telling over discussing means there are cultural forces working against it.

The Johari Window contains four sections:

  • Open Self – things we know about our self and others know too
  • Concealed Self – things we know about our self but we hide from others
  • Blind Self – things we don’t know about our self but others know
  • Unknown Self – things which are known neither by our self nor by others

Through the use of the Humble Inquiry we can expand the amount of Open Self which a person feels confident to display, reducing the Concealed Self.