Igniting the Invisible Tribe: Designing an Organization That Doesn’t Suck, by Josh Allan Dykstra

The world is changing fast and many of our traditions and practices, from politics to business, are outdated, bogged down by the era they were created in. Like every country’s laws, they change slowly, forever trying to catch up with new technologies and societal expectations.

Igniting the Invisible Tribe: Designing an Organization That Doesn't Suck, by Josh Allan Dykstra, read by Jim SeybertJosh Allan Dykstra’s fascinating exploration of this idea looks at the issue from a business perspective, attempting to “find new answers to old questions” to design an organisation that doesn’t “suck”.

The first question, of course, is to ask what he means by an organisation that sucks. He reports that a 2011 investigation by Deloitte found that 79% of people employed by a company in the USA are not passionate about what they do. To fix this, companies focus on the individuals, offering training, mentoring, feedback mechanisms and the like. These are all valuable strategies, which should not be discounted, but they’re born from an era where those at the top of the power pyramid have all the knowledge and power.

In today’s society, information, education, entertainment and networking are at the fingertips of every employee. The power has shifted and, according to Dykstra, the old hierarchical structure no longer works. People are connected and forming “tribes” with like-minded individuals around the world. Every collective develops their own norms and “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. As such, organisations need to move beyond just focussing on the individual. They need to revise their hierarchical structures and accept that culture is the new key to productivity. Companies need to be connected, human and meaningful, catering to the tribe mentality where people come together for a common purpose, not just to make a buck. The proof of this is in the transient nature of today’s workforce. Once upon a time, people took on a job for life. Today, people move on until they find a work environment that they can connect with and find personal value in, yet our corporate structures still reflect the job-for-life’ era.

Jim Seybert has a voice that instils confidence. He did so in Winning Habitudes: 99 Habits and Attitudes of Leaders, Visionaries and Achievers, by Leonard Mark and he does so again here. He’s a superb narrator for self-help and non-fiction titles, providing a clear, encouraging and enthusiastic voice in what can sometimes be a very dry arena. He makes serious topics interesting and adds a level of enthusiasm and motivation that may not be present from a printed edition. He’s one more narrator in my limited pool of trustworthy sources where I would now listen to an audiobook solely based on his involvement.

The ultimate aim of Igniting the Invisible Tribe is to end workplace misery by focussing on culture and structure; considering “we” instead of “me”. In our decentralised world, people opt in to tribes that they relate to, so they can connect with like-minded individuals. Most businesses are yet to tap into that motivation. Likewise, most self-help books focus on self alone (thoughts, motivation, etc), but Dykstra tells us that that is just one side of the coin. The tribes formed by people coming together for a common cause, and the invisible rules that dictate how that tribe should behave, are the flip side that can make or break a team.

Dykstra offers a fresh take on an age-old business dilemma, with Seybert’s narration offering authenticity to his ideas. The audiobook runs for approximately three and a half hours and was self-published by Dykstra in March 2017. It’s available through audible.

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