The challenge of listening to your tribe


A tribe is a group of people who share values and beliefs. The people who make up your business organization also form a community that shares values and beliefs. They are a tribe, your tribe.

Although it seems obvious, the first thing a good tribal chief must do is know the members that make it up. Once you know them, the next step is to listen to them. Remember that leading is learning by listening to the opinions of collaborators, especially when those opinions do not coincide with those of the leader.

The digitization of society has brought about important changes in the constitution of the different groups that make up the tribe, as well as in the underlying relationships between them. It is something that you must take into account when practicing active listening.


‘Old fashion’ segmentation of the tribe.

Until relatively recently, dominant workforce management practices prioritized three types of personal variables when segmenting workforce demographics:


  • Formation
  • Gender
  • Age

In fact, at the end of the last century it became very important to label groups of people according to their date of birth. In fact, it was a true philosopher’s stone for segmenting the leadership and development strategies of people in many organizations around the world.


  • Silent generation. Born until 1945.
  • Baby boomer. Born between 1946 and 1964.
  • Generation X. Born between 1965 and 1979.
  • Generation Y or millennials: Born between 1980 and 2000.
  • Generation Z or cenntenials: Born after 2001.


Today, this way of segmenting has become outdated, due to the impact of an important disruptive factor: human life no longer has segregated life stages in relation to work.


A life with overlapping stages.


Until a few years ago, the human development model had three clearly differentiated stages, fundamentally segmented by age.

  • Childhood and youth: Education.
  • Maturity: Work
  • Old age: Retirement.

In recent years there have been two phenomena that have changed this paradigm.


Access to information.


The first is what I call the democratization of access to information and content. Since the appearance of the smartphone in 2007, there has been a universalization of access to information and content. Knowledge has been democratized and information has been atomized. This has caused age targeting to no longer make much sense. Today, not only are digital natives avid consumers of digital content, and even people of the silent generation remain digitally connected. The appearance of COVID-19 has been one last shock.


Life expectancy.


The second has to do with extended life. Human progress has lengthened life expectancy, as well as the number of years in good health. In this way, in the last 100 years that life expectancy has increased 2-3 years per decade. In this way, in 2050 the age pyramid worldwide will be inverted. At the moment 1 in 12 people are over 65 years old. In 2050 it will be 1 in 6 (450 million, only in China).


Digitization of work.


The third has to do with the digitization of the world of work. The application of AI and robotization are already rapidly transforming work environments. This ends up happening in three different directions, with also very different consequences:

  • Present disappearance of routine human work. Whether that work requires analytical tasks or not, it is clear that it will be taken over by machines. The human component in that environment will have more precarious conditions, because it will have to compete against low cost and high efficiency machines. If you want to see what level of robotization a specific profession or job has, be sure to visit the site
  • Future disappearance of non-routine manual work. We are talking about professionals such as taxi drivers, UBER drivers or even truck drivers. Also of the cleaning staff or guards. There are two groups that will prevail in these segments: people associated with professions that have to do with the arts or craft professions and those associated with caring for people in settings in Western countries.
  • Empowerment of analytical non-routine human work. People who carry out these types of activities will occupy prevalent positions in the pyramid of labor classes. This means that your talent will be scarce and in high demand. As is happening today, they will be able to choose which employer they want to work for or if they want to put their knowledge at the service of their own project. Entrepreneurship is going to be common among them because technology allows it to be separated, to a certain extent, from capital. Thus, in the pre-digital stage, if you wanted to be an entrepreneur, you needed a capitalist partner, because the entire value chain used to require a prior investment. But in the 90s, young technology companies began to be born at the hands of young entrepreneurs who organized themselves in the garage of their homes. Today, technology makes it possible for them to make a project viable from a laptop and a small investment in digital marketing.

A new way to segment your tribe.


The above factors – access to information, improvement in the quality and quantity of life and radical digitization of the world of work – are already causing a profound transformation of the traditional three-stage model of life today. Now, a person can live several stages at the same time. You may be training and working at the same time, working for someone else and starting a new business at the same time, or you may be partially retired and continue to collaborate and bring your experience to an organization. We have gone from having a solid and compartmentalized work life to having a liquid work life with fuzzy contours.

In my opinion, the most relevant element to segment types of workers (members of the tribe) is to do it based on their attitude towards the Change. And if we connect it with the theory of diffusion of innovations that Everett Rogers built in 1962 applied here to labor sociology, we can find a new way to label them. The main objective of studying their prevalent behaviors and building an absolutely customized employee value proposition (PVE). This is especially relevant in hybrid work environments.


New tribal groups.


According to this dynamic, any employee can fit into one of the following groups:

  • Innovative or enthusiastic. They represent 2.5% of the tribe. They are risky and adventurous, they like to be at the forefront of everything. They’re responsible for introducing the innovations to the rest of the tribe.
  • Early adopters or early adopters. Represent 13.5% of the tribe. Highly respected as opinion leaders. Their support for innovation plays a key role because if you succeed, you ensure that the silent majority of followers embrace the trend as part of the status quo.
  • Silent Majority or Followers. It includes two subgroups:
    • Pragmatists (or early majority). They represent 34% of the tribe. They take their time to embrace innovation, and they do not do it if they do not observe the experiences of others (early adopters) and do not perceive it as a tangible benefit for them.
    • Conservatives (or lagging majority). They represent another 34% of the tribe. They are resistant to change and very insensitive to pressure from other groups. Although, instead, they are very sensitive to those of their peers.
  • Skeptics or Traditional. They represent 16% of the tribe. Highly resistant to change. It is very difficult to influence them with internal communication campaigns and they only assume innovation when there is no other remedy. They may never even assume it.


Based on this new segmentation, we are going to study how to ensure that certain dynamics (they can be new processes, new technologies or simply new instructions) have options to be assumed as their own by the majority of the tribe. This is as much as saying that these dynamics have become part of their own culture. The journey of cultural transformation begins!