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Our tribal identities govern our decision making, but change requires more than that

By Bob Bailly tribalmarketing

My reading over the last several weeks has been all over the map, from political parties entrenching in unsupportable positions in Canada and the US, to the neuroscience of leadership. While I’ll discuss more about this later, it was at a board meeting of a not-for-profit that I attended last week that I finally was able to see a thread connecting my readings and what I was observing.

The meeting concerned the introduction of a new name and identity for the organization – a need clearly outlined as a priority in the organization’s strategic plan. The meeting shifted from the ordinary, however, because in the process of doing this work, there was a major disconnect between stakeholders. While the discussion was supposed to be about the rebranding, it quickly centred on the intent, tone and function of the new name that had already been approved. In fact, not only was a previously approved decision of the board being questioned, staff morale was in jeopardy and emotions were running high.

The particulars beyond this are unimportant and all the issues were ultimately resolved. But it was in this resolution that an ah-ha moment hit me. Most of what I was reading, hearing and now experiencing had tribal roots, but there was also something else going on that intrigued me.

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