Home » Archive » Faxes, memos and apathy

, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.

Am still reading Jared Diamond’s, “Guns, Germs, and Steel.” Am still intrigued by the idea of tribal business.

Diamond runs through an ambitious description of social evolution. He works up from roving bands of nomads all the way to sophisticated democratic social structures. This is where Diamond’s work fits into my thinking on tribal business. The more interesting note is that his argument is built on the role of guns, germs and steel in driving this evolution. He points out the by cooperating societies got to guns faster. By bunching up into high populations, societies bred and became immune to potentially potent diseases (inadvertently shared with enemies, with devastating effects). And so, I began thinking about what that means for organisation size. What are the guns, germs and steel of modern economies?

Well the guns have got to be technology. But we see the tinies outrunning the biggies in this area – everyday. So much for a single desk. Germs? Those are memos, paperwork, and emails. But, while devastating, these aren’t shared anymore, they just kill their hosts. And steel – there is none. Not, at least, in the higher stages of corporate evolution. Consider Enron and Hollinger Inc. But there’s tonnes of steel in the all-night, seven-days-a-week startups.

So what does this say for tribal business? Evolution has switched flows. We now value movement, dexterity, and niches – the forte of hunters. If you can’t hunt with speed and precision, you are being hunted.

Got any plans? I do. Use sift, get some.


I think the effectiveness of any group is enhanced by paying attention to our genetic
tribal hardware – this can be studied by reading about tribal societies…or biker/street gangs

Thanks for this post Randy. I haven’t thought of looking at gangs. That may be an enlightening alternative. Any good suggestions?