Tuesday, March 24, 2009

TEDx USC: Dave Logan and Tribal Leadership

Dave Logan, Associate Dean and Executive Director of Executive Development at University of Southern California's (USC) Marshall Business School, gave an excellent talk about tribes, based on his recent book, Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization.

According to Logan, tribes are small groups (10-100 people) of people that form naturally. They tend not to be the same from each other and that difference is called "culture." A crowd or a business will likely contain many tribes. Tribes can be classified by one of 5 stages and each tribe can only hear one level below and above its own level. The stages are:
  1. "Life sucks" (ex. gangs)
  2. "My Life sucks" or "How can people so dumb live?" (ex. the DMV)
  3. "I am great (and you're not)"
    (ex. lawyers or doctors meeting in an elevator, conferences)

  4. "We're great!"
  5. (ex. a company like Zappo.com)
  6. "Life is great!"
  7. (ex. any tribe with positive members that has a positive impact on people)
According to research, only 2% of tribes are stage 5, with most hovering in stage 2, 3 and 4. Mr. Logan encouraged us to "nudge our tribes" towards the next level, and to start doing triadic networking, that is, introduce two people you don't know to each other (in effect, bridging tribes together).

Ultimately the point of the book is to dispel the myth and mindset that only Dog eat Dog cutthroat companies survive and grow big. In fact, cultures based on back-stabbing and fear and "cover your ass" (as so prominent in FX and game companies in my experience) are doomed to stagnate or die. Not surprisingly, Mr. Logan encountered hostility when speaking about his book on FOX News:

A lot of TEDxers enjoyed this talk a lot, citing it as one of the highlights.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New Book & CD: Jim Copp, Will You Tell Me a Story?

The vinyl record LPs of Jim Copp and Ed Brown were HUGE influences on me growing up. From the late 50s to the early 70s, These guys made imaginative songs and stories using only 3 Ampex reel-to-reel tape recorders, a couple of microphones, random instruments, and props all in Jim's Los Angeles house (including his bathroom, for its reverb). Then, the two of them would sell the records at upscale department stores directly.

Now there's an illustrated book called Jim Copp, Will You Tell Me a Story? featuring three of his stories, so now you can follow along with the included CD of their original recordings! I also recommend the full CDs (East of Flumdiddle, Thimble Corner, Jim Copp Tales et al.)

NPR (National Public Radio) did a segment about the book over the weekend. Listening to them now I really appreciate the imagination, creativity, tone and sophistication of their work. The music and words are all grown-up. These children's records are not shrill, high caffeine and corn syrup, or attitude-y. Indeed, my three my 3-year-old niece adores them.

Incidentally, one of the pieces in the book is one of my favorites, "Martha Matilda O'Toole", which I, Anita, and Sam performed as a puppet show a few years back for the SF Bay Area Puppeteers Guild and the Puppet Love! Festival:

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Monday, March 12, 2007

In Theory, I'm Reading...

Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, Daniel Goleman
How we all (most of us) supposedly have a built-in Wifi-like system for dealing with the emotional state of other people.
Gödel, Escher, Bach, Douglas Hofstadter
Three gentlemen who, in their own ways (math, illustration, and music), dealt with abstract ideas such as self-referencing, loops, and self-creating systems (autopoesis).
Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software, Scott Rosenberg
Imperical evidence as to why building software (a relatively immature Discipline) can be frought with frustration, even with some of the best engineers.
Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present, Cory Doctorow
More cool science fiction short stories.
But in practice, I'm watching the HBO series Rome and the documentary, Scratch.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Book: The Long Tail

I was at Barnes & Noble with Anita the other evening and we both picked up copies of Chris Anderson's The Long Tail: Why The Future of Business is Selling Less of More.

If you make a graph of stuff being sold along the horizontal axis, and the number of sold items on the vertical, you'll notice the most popular are along the left-hand side. The Hits. The rest, until recently were generally ignored as unsellable, and brick & mortar places with limited shelf space would keep only left-side stuff on inventory. The stuff on the right is "the long tail," full of non-mainstream, amateur, up-and-coming, and sometimes crap that, certainly without attention, will never be a hit. That has changed with online webstores like Amazon.com, and eBay, where the shear number of choices, each not terribly lucrative, adds up to quite a lot.

It's a really good book. It seems the true money to be made is in harnessing niches, not in making content for them. (The book does mention that often creators make things for reputation, not for money) Though it does provide, probably for the first time in history, a way for a niche player to get out there, and if viral enough (through blogs and e-mail), attract the attention of an entity that can push it to the left.


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Saturday, June 14, 2003

Ella Minnow Pea: Inspired Reading

Ella Minnow Pea is a clever book I'm reading. Imagine a society that bans all use of particular letters of the alphabet. Now imagine each chapter is itself is a written letter to or from one of the inhabitants. It's an excellent satire against fundamentalism, extremism, and making the wrong choices when in power. You can buy it here.


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