Spoiler alert – there are now 9 tribes of digital

9 tribes of digital

The 7 /8 / 9 tribes of digital is an ongoing observation exercise based around the different definitions of digital – usually represented by different waves of technology – that you can observe in an organisation.  As part of my August firebreak I’ve also been dusting off the 8 tribes of digital and having a look around to see where they have all got to and have made a few changes – and yes I have found an extra tribe….

  • I’ve shifted the social change tribe to be the networked power tribe. They are still very much focused on more collaborative and co-productive ways of working but I wanted to widen their reach to include people looking things like self-directed learning and communities of practice as well as more externally focused collaboration in the democratic space
  • I’ve changed ‘Radical redesign’ to ‘Design thinking‘ as I think its a wider trend now than when I first captured this tribe – but I think that when I’m talking about them I will still be talking about hipsters with skinny jeans and post-its
  • I think its more relevant to talk and Ethical Technology (or Tech for Good) rather than simply Social innovation. To some extent I am calling out this tribe as I think its so important to have this thinking as part of your organisation. If its not there then hunt it out as we all have a responsibility to make sure that our technology is reflecting the best and not the worst of our values.
  • I have added a new tribe who I have called ‘The Method‘ tribe. These are practitioners who with their strict adherence to their method – be it agile, or lean or something else – means that they often lose sight of the bigger picture.  The upside of this tribe is the fact that they bring new ways of working and also can demonstrate that adherence to a common method – no matter what it is – will make a team more effective.  Their Achilles heel is the fact that they are convinced that there method is the right one

For those of you who have’t come across the now 9 tribes of digital – there is no right answer here and no one tribe should dominate. Even the digital cargo cult with their labrador-like enthusiasm for technology they don’t understand can play a role in making change happen. The exception to this is the digital by default tribe who have been flogging the same plan for over 20 years and are now calling it digital – they really have to go.

Just before I left Capita I was working with a team on creating a more formal 8 tribes diagnostic and the early pilots of this were very promising. I would love to bring this back to life again so let me know if you are interested in collaborating on this.

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