Josh Allan Dykstra is a recognized thought leader on the future of work and company culture design. His articles and ideas have been featured by Fast Company, Forbes, The Huffington Post, and Business Insider. He is a co-founder of beForte, a consulting group that helps leaders and entrepreneurs design energizing company culture, and a co-founder of 1MFWF Supporter The Work Revolution, a movement/advocacy group that promotes life-giving work environments for everyone. Josh’s eclectic background includes projects with organizations like Apple, Sony, Genentech, Microsoft, HTC, and UCLA as well as startups and nonprofits. He holds an MBA in Executive Leadership from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He talks with us here about his latest book, Igniting the Invisible Tribe: Designing An Organization That Doesn’t Suck.
1MFWF: What/who exactly is the “invisible tribe”?
Josh: An invisible tribe is a group of people who are bound together by their shared interest of something, but who don’t know each other… yet. The world has always been full of these kinds of tribes, of course, but we’ve never had such hyper-efficient ways of connecting these people to each other. With the advent of the internet—and even more, the social platforms available online—we can now quite easily make these tribes visible to each other.
A good next question to ask is: “What happens when groups of passionate people come together?” The answer is: usually something quite revolutionary. That’s the kind of world we’re headed into, a world full of these new tribes.
The idea of an “invisible tribe” is a crucial idea for businesses to understand, as the future of work is all about leveraging the discretionary energy inside human beings. To access that energy, we have to find the things workers truly care about. People are already telling us exactly what those things are, so the new role of organizational leadership is to create “containers” where people can join together and do the best work of their lives!
1MFWF: Can you explain more about what you mean when you note that work is not taught, but caught?
Josh: In the book, I make this statement in comparison to parenting; meaning, we think that our kids will do what we tell them, but more often they just do what they see us do. Behavior, in this aspect, is something that’s “caught” and not “taught.” Unless we consciously shift our patterns, we human beings tend to simply repeat the behaviors we’ve seen before—and this is true whether we’re watching our parents or our first manager on the job.
This is a problem in the workplace, because most of us haven’t been so fortunate as to work for a world-class, phenomenal leader. Most of us have, however, worked for a fantastically terrible manager. This is one of the reasons why pathetic management habits continue to persist in our organizations—many times it’s not even intentional, we’re just repeating the bad habits we’ve seen others perform.
This is why, in our work at beForte we spend so much time helping leaders understand their underlying motivating strengths—so they can become more “energy intelligent” and make more effective leadership choices as a result.
1MFWF: You write that “saving the world is all about changing the way we work.” Why do you think that the way we work can have such a profound and global impact?
Josh: A recent study from Global Trends showed that of the world’s 150 largest economic entities, 58% of them are corporations. In other words, more than half of the largest economic engines in the world are not countries or nations, but companies. Then add to this fact the more anecdotal understanding that most of us spend more of our lives at “work” than we do anywhere else.
If we want to live in a better world, the best way to do it is to: a) individually fix our relationship with this thing called “work,” and b) make sure our organizations understand their vital role in a healthy society.
1MFWF: What are some examples of organizations that are already getting things right?
Josh: There are many things “right” happening in organizations all over the world. We try to constantly profile the amazing people who are pioneering great work-related initiatives through the Work Revolution project, so that’s a good place to start a search for the best new ideas. I would also recommend looking deeply at the organizations featured in Frederic Laloux’s book, Reinventing Organizations—those are the kinds of companies that I believe exemplify where business needs to go.
1MFWF: Who should read your book, and what can they hope to take away from it?
Josh: Igniting the Invisible Tribe is written for anyone who has noticed that the world of business doesn’t quite seem to work the way it used to. They might even “feel a change in the air,” and want to have more context for what the heck is going on. I wanted to distill four years of in-depth research into a book that was readable and understandable, so whether you are an entrepreneur, an employee, or a manager/leader, as long as you’re a person who is wondering how work got to be the way it is—and how we can make it better—this book will help you down that path. Also, you’ll get practical ideas for how to work with the future, instead of fighting against it!
Learn more from Josh about his work
photo credit: Josh Allan Dykstra