Seth Godin in his amazing book Tribes defines a tribe as being connected to a leader, connected to one another, and connected to an idea. It's almost too simple to lead a tribe. You would think it would be the opposite. If an organization had a massive reach it would be complicated to harness the power of it's tribe. But the reason most organizations struggle to engage their tribe is they falsely believe their tribe is connected to their brand. This could be true in profit industry where a product meets demand and obviously turns a profit. But what if your product is a story about a changed life half way across the globe? What if your product is the story of a changed high school kid that no one else knows? What if your product is the restoration of a homeless person in your local community? What if these products were the identity of the organizational brand? How do we expose this fantastic story to the world?
You don't. Because the world can't pay attention long enough to a story that isn't colliding with their world all the time.
Instead share the story with your tribe and let them do the talking for you.
One organization is leading the way when it comes to tribal leadership and it's working!!! Compassion International makes my heart beat faster because of their innovative way of spreading their message through social media.
Here's what they did:
1. They found a leader - The "about" on Shaun Groves' blog reads this, "Shaun Groves is a husband, father, singer and communicator connecting the first world with the third world for the benefit of both." I won't go into all the details because they can be found here but Compassion found someone who had a tribe as a singer, he was in their tribe as an organization, and they gave him permission to engage his tribe and their tribe in a whole new platform: Social Media.
2. They connected the tribe: Through Shaun's leadership Compassion has created a program known as "Compassion Bloggers." This is brilliant! Bloggers apply to go see what Compassion does for kids in other countries and Compassion pays their way to go see it. In return, these bloggers write about their experience on their own blogs. Do you see the brilliance in this? An organization with a tribe. A singer/blogger with a tribe. Lots of other bloggers with each of their own tribes. And all these tribes become one around the work Compassion is doing. The best part is that they are all able to connect to one another through social media. Wow!
3. The idea is crystal clear: I've noticed most non-profits know what they do better than any other organization. And when that moment happens, because it's the best thing and it energizes their workers no one has their "sharing caps" on. As in no one is thinking, "This is such an awesome moment I should step back and take a picture so I can tell the tribe about how great this moment really is." This is why the Compassion strategy is brilliant. They use bloggers, people who live to tell stories, to tell their best stories for them. With this many eye witnesses sharing the vision becomes crystal clear.
So kuddos to you Compassion International and to Shaun Groves! The work you are doing inspires me and it's engaging. Keep up the awesome stuff you are doing, it's making all of us lead our tribes better.