Sixteen Patterns of the Learning Organization

Organizational learning is NOT random. If you do not intend it, it just NEVER HAPPENS.

To really encourage organizational learning, we must engage in 16 often-difficult learning patterns. THE CULTURE GAME book describes how to do this: by gaming the work. It is critical to design and implement the work around specific good-game mechanics, as described by Jane McGonigal in her book REALITY IS BROKEN.

THE CULTURE GAME describes a 3-part strategy for creating more business agility and learning in your organization. That 3-part strategy is:

  • Game the Work
  • Implement the 16 Tribal Learning Patterns
  • Socialize them with Triads

Let’s look at each in turn:

Game the Work. Work is a game. You are not working, you are playing. Usually, the work is poorly structured and does not have good-game dynamics built in. You can change that. Game the work. By deliberately gaming the work, you obtain a double-barreled win. This is because you eliminate bad game mechanics, and replace them with fun and enjoyable, good-game mechanics. You win huge by paying attention to this.

Implement the 16 Tribal Learning Practices. These are distilled and extracted from Agile software development. These are the behavioral patterns of the best teams. The best teams are small learning organizations. By doing what these teams are doing, you become a learning organization. It’s that simple.

Socialize with Triads. In your company, you can either make moves, or die a slow death waiting for someone else to do so. THE CULTURE GAME book explains how to apply the triad structures described by Dave Logan and others in the book TRIBAL LEADERSHIP. Triad are an essential aspect of spreading ideas and memes throughout your company.

OK. Now let’s run down the 16 Tribal Learning patterns from THE CULTURE GAME in some detail…

The Tribal Learning Patterns from THE CULTURE GAME:

Chapter 7: Be Purposeful. Without a clear purpose, you group cannot focus. You need one.

Chapter 8: Facilitate Your Meetings. Agile meetings are facilitated. We must do the same.

Chapter 9: Examine Your Norms. Nothing is beyond inspection. We must play serious.

Chapter 10: Be Punctual. Punctuality associates with Respect, Commitment, Focus.

Chapter 11: Structure Your Interactions. Real-time negotiation is over-rated. Agree in advance.

Chapter 12: Announce Your Intent. No one can follow when you do not state what you are doing. Tell people exactly what you plan to do.

Chapter 13: Game Your Meetings. Game mechanics govern engagement. Eliminate randomness in your meetings and level up

Chapter 14: Conduct Frequent Experiments. All learning is experimentation and all experimentation is play. Suspend disbelief and learn by experimenting.

Chapter 15: Manage Visually. Out of sight out of mind. Seeing is believing.

Chapter 16: Inspect Frequently. Iterate and inspect. When chaos comes, do this more often.

Chapter 17: Get Coached. The observer can see things you cannot. Coach is in it, not of it.

Chapter 18: Manage Your Boundaries. Good fences make good neighbors. Mend your fences.

Chapter 19: Socialize Books. Learning is at the root of greatness. Spread books & ideas.

Chapter 20: Pay Explicit Attention. We cannot change what we do not acknowledge. Attention is a scarce resource, that is why we call it “paying” attention. Zoom in.

Chapter 21: Open The Space. Closed space is space where we “don’t go there”. Open the space to discover what is going on, encourage engagement, and get the best idea on the table, regardless of source.

Chapter 22: Be Playful: Play is associated with joy and learning. Figure this out and you are on your way to more business agility and a much more adaptive organization.


Organizational learning is at the root of group greatness. Agile software teams have conquered the problem of how to do this. There are at least 16 core patterns of organizational learning. We call them Tribal Learning Patterns in THE CULTURE GAME book. Do them, and your tribe will prosper. Ignore them at your own peril.

Work is game, and it is poorly structured. This is why it is often not fun, and usually, unsatisfying. To level-up, Game the Work. Inject good-game mechanics into your work and meetings.

Once you are winning the culture game with your team, socialize your wins with triads. Form triads to socialize a culture of learning. Teach others that are willing exactly how to play the game. Once enough people are located in the wider story of organizational learning, the whole organization “goes Agile”. It sounds so simple. It’s not.

THE CULTURE GAME  book provides tools and a roadmap for encouraging real, genuine, positive change in your organization.


Gaming Happiness at Work

Happiness at work is a game. If the core requirements for happiness at work are not present, you disengage and check out. If the core requirements are there, you automatically experience fun, satisfaction and potentially, a deeply engaged sense of well-being. THE CULTURE GAME book shows how to deliver happiness through the intentional design and implementation of good-game mechanics.

Work is BROKEN when it is not fun to play. The THE CULTURE GAME book provides tools for playing an all-new game of engagement and learning. By doing this you are delivering happiness at work by injecting good-game mechanics into the structure of work and meetings.

The core requirements for happiness at work are:

A sense of control
A sense of progress
A sense of belonging and membership
A sense of wider purpose and meaning

Agile patterns and practices, authentically applied, definitely deliver happiness. The game of Scrum is simply one example.

The next thing to realize is that work is a game and that Scrum is a game, Kanban is a game, all your meetings are games, and that big Agile adoption underway at your company is in fact a game. Your company culture is also an elaborate game.

When viewed in this way, it is possible to more fully game your interactions, your meetings and work itself, so that participating is optimized towards a satisfying, fun and naturally productive experience.


Games have 4 basic properties. When the values for each of the properties are well-formed, the game is enjoyable, fun and satisfying. When the 4 properties are not well-formed, the game is not fun and you either opt-out or, if this is not possible, you disengage (“check out”) almost automatically.

The 4 basic properties of a good game are:

A clear goal
A clear set of rules that are uniformly applied
A clear way to “check the score”, get feedback and track progress
Opt-in participation

Agile patterns and practices are usually (but not always) well-formed games. Well-formed games associate with satisfaction, happiness and even joy; poorly defined games associate with disengagement, low levels of learning, and a distinct lack of enjoyment.

THE CULTURE GAME book draws on the work of four big authors: Jane McGonigal (REALITY IS BROKEN), Dave Logan (TRIBAL LEADERSHIP), Tony Hsieh (DELIVERING HAPPINESS), and Peter Senge (THE FIFTH DISCIPLINE).

The objective of THE CULTURE GAME book  is to introduce you to the tools and dynamics of happiness at work, and the basics of good-game design for work. As a result of reading the book, you are able to:

  • More fully understand business agility
  • More quickly analyze and diagnose the specific business agility problems you are facing
  • More easily design for successful meetings
  • More easily design for successful Agile adoptions
  • More easily design for satisfying work, and
  • Begin to encourage the emergence of a genuine learning organization in your company.

Drawing from wide-scope academic research, several core-foundation books and 4 years of real coaching in real organizations, THE CULTURE GAME takes you through a specific 8-part framework. This is a framework for designing and developing more learning at work by leveraging some very specific game mechanics for re-designing the way you do work with other people.

Are these ideas intriguing to you? Contact us to arrange a 2-day CULTURE GAME WORKSHOP for your organization. In this workshop, we teach you how to game your culture by gaming your meetings, so these meetings convert from soul-sucking death marches to fun and enjoyable and energizing team-learning events. During the workshop, teach you very specific business agility techniques, and we train your people as CULTURE GAME facilitators. Click here to learn more about THE CULTURE GAME WORKSHOP.


Without good requirements, you cannot do good Agile. You need to know how to collect, gather and define requirements. Attend this meeting to learn how to build a real Product Backlog !

Everyone wants to know how to define requirements at the start of an Agile project. Old-school requirements insist that we do analysis, get PERFECT requirements, then do design, then development, then test. Sound familiar??

The results are in: this is a very ineffective approach to creating GREAT software.

The mechanics of creating requirements in an Agile way is very visual, tactile and collaborative. How we do requirements is the very heart of Agile. To really understand software Agility, you must experience how we gather and define requirements.

WARNING: Agile Requirements Gathering might cause discomfort and/or pain in the neck. May cause shortness of breathe in some individuals.

Attend to find out how to start gathering requirements in an Agile way!





All who have an interest in great software with others can attend this meeting. Persons not comfortable creating great software with others may not enjoy this meeting.

Managers, directors and project sponsors as well as executives will get a great deal out this meeting.

Team members and project leaders new to Agile who are looking to really get going with Agile projects

Everyone in Connecticut who cares about genuine and authentic Agile adoptions in their workplaces may want to be at this meeting.


Everyone exits this meeting ready to go with Agile Requirements Gathering teachings, knowledge and direct experience.



  • How to generate enough good requirements to actually start coding in as little as 2 hours
  • How and why using index cards and facilitated meetings create great requirements
  • Why “user stories” make perfect sense for gathering requirements
  • What a “persona” is, and how to leverage them to create requirements
  • How to generate 60 ACTIONABLE requirements per hour
  • What a User Story Map is good for, and why you care
  • How avoid soul-sucking death march meetings, and replace them with fun, energizing and productive episodes of learning as you gather requirements
  • How to teach Agile Requirements Gathering to others in your organization




Dan Mezick

Dan Mezick is an expert adviser on Agile who delivers Agile coaching and guidance to teams, departments and corporate executives. As skilled Open Space facilitator, he has pioneered the use of Open Space in Boston and is the Open Space facilitator for the Agile NYC Open Space 2012 conference held February 27, 2012.

He is the author of The Culture Game, a book of practices, derived from Agile, that managers use to promote more learning and agility inside their teams and the wider organization. He is a frequent speaker at Agile and management conferences and is the keynote speaker for the Northeast Quality Conference 2012.

His coaching clients include Mass Mutual, Hartford Insurance, CIGNA, Sikorsky Aircraft, Zappos Insights, Orpheus Orchestra, and dozens of mid-size organizations.

You can learn more about Dan and his Agile coaching practice, here.



This is a facilitated workshop. You exit with direct experience gathering and generating genuine Agile Requirements. We focus on a specific web-based application and generate requirements in small facilitated groups.

600PM Intro to Agile and Scrum (with cheese and crackers) Dan Mezick

630PM Intro to Agile Requirements: Core Concepts. Dan Mezick

700PM BREAK. Food, beverages, socializing

720PM Exercise: Persona Generation

740PM Exercise: User Story Generation and Mapping

800PM Group Retrospective on Agile Requirements








The ICF Code of Ethics

Let’s get real. The International Coaching Federation has a Code. See it here. This document and the wording in it as written is inadequate for Agile Coaches in my view. It is missing a key set of  keywords.

The ICF wrote a generic Code. It is not intended for the Agile Coaching specialty. Agile Coaching probably was not even a real occupation when the ICF code was written.

Using the ICF code is dodging the issue. The issue is DEPENDENCE.

We need to include certain specific words in the Agile Coaching code.

They are:





These words need to be at the front of mind if you are an Agile Coach (big A, big C).

The reason is simple: there is nearly automatic dysfunctional, highly codependent relationship that can exist between external Agile Coach and client. I have ranted on this plenty in many previous posts.

(previous Agile Coaching Ethics posts.)

The ICF code is a good starting point. OK? It is a base class, also known as a abstract class. It’s good to use as a starting point, and for using that starting point to add more (minimal) features that tailor it for the Agile Coaching. Let’s stop pretending the ICF Code is adequate as a code for Agile Coaching ethics. It’s not.

Here is the idea: Agile Coaches must

1. Be mindful that dysfunction is nearly automatic;

2. Take steps to create firewalls that prevent co-dependence between coach and client;

3. Never knowingly encourage a dangerous and unhealthy  dependence on the coach;

Such dependency can create a nearly-automatic stream of revenue from client to coach. I’ve seen it. It goes on where I live. It probably goes on where you live.

That, and:

1. Client learns nothing; and has no clue this is true;

2. “Coach” ends up doing the same tasks over and over; making loads of MONEY

3. Agility gets a black eye when people observe the results; resulting in observers worldwide thinking Agile is some kind of gimmick;

4. The client trades one set of dysfunctions for another; and has no clue this just happened.


We can do so much better. Where I live, there is loads of this happening. And no one is saying ANYTHING about it. Where is leadership in the Agile space when we NEED it? We have a very weak immune system.


It’s time for the Agile community to:

1. Get a backbone and have this conversation now.

2. Develop a code of Agile Coaching Ethics that devalues the development of ANY dependency in the client.

3. Start discussing and identifying which behaviors that encourage a dangerous dependence, and call them out as out-of-bounds and not honored by the community at large. For GOOD reasons.

4. Wake up and smell the coffee. A lot of coaching is actually revenue generation with little or no learning taking place. The Agile community has no immune system and even honors this behavior.

It’s ludicrous and absurd to watch.

What’s up with this? Anyone can show up and promote ideas like coaches “occupying the Scrum Master role for some time” when we all know that is not coaching at all. What that is, is manipulation. Coaching is not manipulation and coaching definitely is not consulting, EVER.

Let’s all wise up. The ICF Code is a starting point. Let’s go to work.

What you tolerate, you insist on.

What you insist on will be supplied.

-Jim and Michele McCarthy, SOFTWARE FOR YOUR HEAD

Story and Language: Why Do You Care?

Language is the code of culture.

Stories and narratives are core, platform applications that execute the cultural operating system. Repeat:  The culture is the operating system, composed of the stories— the core applications. The language is the code used to create these core ‘applications’. If you have no stories, you do not have a culture.

Got that?

Dave Logan has all this covered in TRIBAL LEADERSHIP. You listen to the language- the code— of the stories you hear. That tells you the level of the culture. The level dictates what the culture can aspire to. What it can do.

What it is capable of doing. And being.

Example. You show up. People are talking in ‘We’ language and telling ‘We’ stories. That’s a tribe that can dominate their market space. That’s a tribe that can get to Stage 5 in the TRIBAL LEADERSHIP stage development model of culture. This Stage 4 tribe has the capacity to reach Stage 5 and be world-changing.

Another example. You show up and people are speaking ‘I’ language. The stories are all heroic in nature. He did this, she did that. I think this; I do that. Hear it? That’s Stage 3 culture. “I am great. (You are not.)

This culture can function in a minimal way. It cannot change the world.

To change the culture, change the stories people are telling. There are many ways to do this. It’s not a trivial task. I explain some specific techniques in THE CULTURE GAME book. When you change culture, you change the stories. This is an axiom that does not change.

The culture is the operating system.

The stories are the core components and core applications that make up the operating system. They encapsulate what the culture means. This operating system is composed of stories.

The language is the high-level (story) programming medium.

Last thing: recall that the best computer programmer is up to 10X better than the average. This is ALSO TRUE for those who ‘code’ stories.

Interested in culture? Wise up about story. There is no better place to start than the web site That site has a boatload of tips, techniques and specific guidance on how to leverage narrative. The individual responsible for that site has PLENTY to teach you.

Michael Margolis is a brilliant man who knows more about narrative than ANYONE I know.

Tell him Dan sent you, and that you want to know how to get a bigger story.

Tribal Leadership and Scrum

In genuine and authentic Scrum, the three roles form a triad.

A triad is a super-small social structure with just 3 participants. These 3, aligned on values, commit to executing a very small strategy with intent to get results inside a very short time horizon.

Tribal Leadership is the book that introduces triads. It is a New York Times bestselling business book on business, leadership and culture. I’ve outlined this in an earlier post. The book is brilliant. The triad, is a 3-person social structure that is very small– and very robust. A well-formed triad is a powerhouse. Triads are capable of accomplishing absolutely tremendous results with just 3 participants, across very small time horizons.

If you know Scrum, this is sure to sound familiar….

My latest book, The Culture Game, describes in A-B-C terms exactly how to use triads to spread transformative learning across an entire enterprise. If Tribal Leadership is a cultural operating system, The Culture Game is an application. It provides a small strategy (a “microstrategy”) and leverages triads to spread it virally throughout the entire organization. I believe The Culture Game is the first of many such books that will be built upon the Tribal Leadership platform.

Triads are a key to the business agility problem. Genuine Scrum teams with the 3 roles of Product Owner, Scrum Master and Team exhibit a key aspect of Tribal Leadership’s triads: each role takes responsibility for maintaining the quality of the connection between the other two. This is the very picture of a healthy and well team.

In 2010, I met Dave Logan at Zappos. (Zappos Insights is one of my clients. Actually, one of my favorite clients. That is a truly great and amazing story for a detailed telling … at a later time.) Dave and I have many friends in common, and we became good friends ourselves.

In early 2012, I traveled to the Los Angeles offices of CultureSync, Dave’s management consultancy. I brought the 16 learning practices described in my book. We spent two days with the CultureSync team, doing work while using all the techniques in the book. The result was a delightful, laughing-out-loud kind of astonishment on the part of the CultureSync team. They loved it. My account of the details of the coaching experience at CultureSync are located here.

As a result of that meeting, we made serious headway in blending a very strong brew consisting of Scrum and Tribal Leadership. We kicked off a project composing elements of Tribal Leadership’s 5-stage culture model, the 3-person triad structure, and the 16 Tribal Learning practices described in The Culture Game. (The 16 practices are all derived from Scrum). I gathered these techniques over several years, by watching the very best Scrum teams I was coaching, and carefully noting exactly what the heck they were actually doing. From that, I developed a list…the sixteen things…

…I call them Tribal Learning practices. If you do them, you create automatic team-learning and a generate a genius team. All of these techniques are related, and conspire together to create team genius: in truth, a small learning organization. The Tribal Learning practices, derived from Scrum, are the ‘secret sauce’ in the recipe for creating a learning organization.

We can thank Scrum’s creators, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber,  for pointing the way.

Over a 2-day period Dave, the CultureSync team and I executed on brainstorming and planning around the re-mix: Tribal Scrum Incorporating essential aspects of both Tribal Leadership and Scrum, Tribal Scrum has the potential to transform organizations, one triad at a time. It’s all described in my book, The Culture Game, which you can purchase today.

Intrigued? The Tribal Learning practices described in my book provide the ingredients and the recipe for creating more learning, more fun, and a greater capacity to respond to change.

Tribal Scrum is a re-mix of practices distilled from Scrum and Tribal Leadership. Please join us as we embark on this adventure.

Join us in creating tools that managers and executives can use– right out of the box– to create effective learning tribes in organizations of all sizes throughout the world.


Background Links on Tribal Scrum:

Make Your Meeting Hyper-Productive and Fun article at CBSNEWS.COM

Tribal Leadership Book

The Culture Game Book

Tribal Leadership and The Culture Game blog post

Design Thinking: Composing the Tribal Learning Practices blog post

How Tribal Leadership and Scrum will change the world blog post

Design Thinking: Composing The Learning Practices

The CULTURE GAME is a book of 16 practices that accelerate learning in your organization. If you do just 3 or 4 of them , you team, your department and even your entire division can begin to learn, as a group, faster and faster. This learning is essential to respond to change. Societal change, driven by technology, is literally re-writing the rules of business. Enterprises that learn really fast eliminate competition by out-thinking them in real time. This level of group learning is not random.


I wrote the book as a set of 16 standalone practices, what I call Tribal Learning practices. You compose them as you see fit, by remixing them. Each reader faces a unique situation and will use the book differently. As a manager, you can pick and choose from the list of practices to create a tailored an customized application of the guidance in the book. This allows you to immediately begin. You can choose the practices that fit your context, situation and preferences.

Here are some pre-fab combinations of the practices that work well in specific cultures and contexts:


Facilitate Your Meetings, Be Punctual, Structure Your Interactions

Notes: These 3 are good for tuning-up your meetings. When combined, these 3 practices convert meetings from soul-sucking death marches to intentional team learning events.These 3 practices are  kind of starting point for converting your meetings from bleak no-engagement events to highly enjoyable and satisfying episodes of work with others. The book provides loads of detailed support for your use of each practice.


Pay Explicit Attention, Examine What’s Normal, Inspect Frequently

Notes: Iterating on work is essential if you intend to make sense of highly complex (even chaotic) work. Iterations provide a natural inspection point… at the end. Having the discipline to periodically inspect exactly what is going on encourages adjustment, experimentation and adaptation. This concept can be applied to any kind of work. These 3 are appropriate for organizations that are already relatively safe and open (as compared to unsafe and closed.)

The book explains specific tactics and things to consider as you compose your implementation.


Conduct Frequent Experiments, Socialize Books, Get Coached

Notes: Get Coached and Socialize Books are the two Tribal Learning practices that cost something. The rest to do not cost a dime. Socializing books signals that learning is valued; the content provides ideas to try out as experiments. A culture of experimentation leads to more learning. If  even a small “failure” is a source of potential career suicide in your company, get a coach to help you and start socializing books like TRIBAL LEADERSHIP (and others)  with new  and useful ideas. These 3 practices are a good starting point if you organization is already moving in the direction of more organizational learning; for example of your IT teams are already using some agile methods.



The Culture Game book contains 16 specific learning practices and guidance on how to socialize these ideas in your organization.  The book provides a detailed tutorial and a reference guide. It also provides a rich bibliography for further study. Collectively, the book forms a complete toolbox, with tools you can use …  as YOU see fit.

You have to intend to create more learning and a higher capacity to adapt in your organization, because team learning is not random. Mix and match, pick and choose. Create your own custom program based on your context, and what people are willing to try, and willing to do. The book provides loads of ideas, starting points and specific A-B-C guidance in Part 3, so you can get going now.

You can learn more about the CULTURE GAME book here.



Tribal Leadership and the Culture Game

The Culture Game a a tutorial and reference guide for every progressive, changing-making manager on the planet. The premise of the book is that managers do not have to ask permission, because they are already authorized to convene meetings, hire, fire, and deploy small budgets.

The Culture Game book is built in part on concepts found in the book TRIBAL LEADERSHIP, the work of Dave Logan and co-authors.

The book explains how the pace of change is mandating that organizations learn faster, so they can adapt. The book provides 16 practices, derived from Agile, which help make this learning happen. The beauty of the Culture Game approach is that it is not prescriptive. The book is a cookbook. To get results, you only need to do 3 or 4 of the practices to start. For example, you can choose to implement the practices Be Punctual, Facilitate Your Meetings and Structure Your Interactions in all your meetings. These 3 practices promise to substantially raise the level of satisfaction, learning and results in your meetings.

Part 3 of the book explains the power of the triad structure described by Dave Logan and co-authors in the book TRIBAL LEADERSHIP. A triad is a 3-person structure where:

1. Every person in the group shares common values;

2. Each person is committed with the others to execute a small strategy together that gets specific, intended results, and

3. Each person in the group takes responsibility for maintaining the quality of the connection between the other two people.

If you are a manager, and you know the Culture Game practices, then you already know the power of the practices to generate fun, satisfaction and learning in your department or group.

The next step is to teach others how to do it just like you did. In the book, I argue that triads are the secret sauce that can be used to scale agility from teams to tribes. The book embraces and extends the triad concept from TRIBAL LEADERSHIP. It provides A-B-C guidance on how to form a triad to socialize these techniques throughout your organization. Triads are a super-powerful way to scale agility from teams to tribes, groups of up to 150 people that exist informally in every organization.

The book TRIBAL LEADERSHIP describes 5 stages of culture, and then describes the triad structure as a vector for culture change. The book lays down a foundation. THE CULTURE GAME builds on this, supplying the small strategy (The 16 Tribal Learning practices) and A-B-C guidance on how to socialize these practices using triads. This is a bottom-up approach that effectively scales agility UP and OUT of software teams, and into the mainstream…scaling agile from teams, to tribes.

If TRIBAL LEADERSHIP is an operating system, THE CULTURE GAME is an application that runs on it. Triads are a brilliant idea; my book is the first ‘application’ to run on TRIBAL LEADERSHIP. I think it is fair to say that it is not the last. Triads are the real deal.

You can learn more about the TRIBAL LEADERSHIP book here and get a quick summary here.

TRIBAL LEADERSHIP co-author Dave Logan recently wrote about how he and I, and his entire team spent 2 days working together. We used Culture Game concepts to structure 2 days of work with Dave’s CultureSync team in Los Angeles. (CultureSync is Dave’s management consultancy.) The results were pretty good!!

You can read that article from Dave’s column at CBSNEWS.COM, here:

Make Your Meetings Hyper-Productive and Fun by Dave Logan (CBSNEWS)

You can learn more about the THE CULTURE GAME book, and pre-order it here.


Speaking in “We”, thinking in “Me”

Psst. Want to change the world?

If so, you’ll need the right kind of folks on the bus, the kind of people who “get it”.  You’ll need some leadership. Some TRIBAL leadership.

Me vs. We

My friend Dave Logan, author of TRIBAL LEADERSHIP, outlines 5 specific stages of culture. At each stage, the majority of the people in the culture are telling each other a standard story for that level. Stage 3 is “I’m great, (you’re not)” and Stage 4 is “We’re great (they’re not).” The difference is in where you get your identity from. At Stage 4, most (but not all) of the people get their identity from the group, rather than individual-ego….

The five stages of tribal culture, expressed as stories, from most basic to most advanced,  are as follows:

1. Life sucks!

2. MY life sucks!

3. I’m great! (You’re not.)

4. We’re great! (They’re not.)

5. Life is great!

There is a specific pattern of behavior that can rapidly create a dystopia in organizations and teams. It happens when people in a team or org “talk a good game” about Stage 4 and use “we” language, while behaving in Stage 3 “me” language.

I call it “speaking in “We” and thinking in “Me.”

“Thinking in We” is required if you are out to do something big that is literally impossible to do alone. It’s a Stage 4 way of being. At Stage 4, the language is about being the best tribe in a given domain or market. “We’re great” is the place where many successful companies START. Existing companies can do rework, to “refactor” or upgrade their culture by developing new “tribal” language. It’s all explained in Dave’s remarkable book.

If you cannot get big things done at Stage 4, “We’re great”, you have NO SHOT at Stage 5.

And what is Stage 5?

Stage 5 is the platform for manifesting world-building initiatives. Stage 5 the “Life is great” stage, where a focus on competitors literally disappears. The tribe has loads of alignment around a huge, world-changing  idea, and all of them together execute on making it happen. Stage 5 culture is rare.  When it occurs, the people in the culture are predominantly Stage 4 folks who know that game, and want to play a much BIGGER game.

(NOTE: These folks always seek each other out. And find each other. And help each other. It’s automatic behavior at Stage 4.)

Bottom line: We cannot do Stage 4 work unless we are at Stage 4 in our heads, in our mindset. This is why Stage 3 individuals have no shot at executing on big, huge, Stage FIVE work that requires a world-building mindset. That’s because, according to Dave Logan, you have to “own” each stage completely before you can move to the next. You cannot skip a grade. Stage 3 “I’m great” type people literally have no shot at Stage 5, because they are attempting to skip Stage 4 and do not have the essential “We” skills necessary to actually execute on genuine world-building.

Scrum and agile set up at least the potential for a Stage 4 culture, that  “We are great” mindset. We can argue that people that do not “get” agility are stuck at Stage 3, 2 or 1. You can learn all the stages of Tribal Leadership, in detail, by getting the book and reading it.

My book THE CULTURE GAME leverages the best ideas from Dave’s TRIBAL LEADERSHIP book. THE CULTURE GAME employs triads for socializing agile (group) learning up and out of IT, from teams to tribes. You can learn more here.

Dave Logan and I are developing products and services that combine the best of TRIBAL LEADERSHIP, agile, and what I call trans-agile or Tribal Learning patterns and practices as described in THE CULTURE GAME. There are 16 specific practices in the book, that any manager can put to work, today, to upgrade team culture.

If you want to sign up for interesting tutorial podcasts that Dave and I are doing around these ideas, click here to  sign up.

Trans-Agile and the Learning Organization

The organizations that LEARN FAST are the new winners in game of business. They have more fun and make much more money doing it … by learning faster that their competitors, and then eating their lunch.

Let me explain.

Recently, I went out to LA to work with my friend Dave Logan at the offices of CultureSync, Dave’s management consultancy. Dave is  the lead-author of the book TRIBAL LEADERSHIP. This book introduces the triad, a very robust 3-person structure for getting amazing amounts of work done. This book also enumerates a stage-development model of culture in organizations. The book is brilliant– and so is Dave. My book THE CULTURE GAME is based in part on Dave’s TRIBAL LEADERSHIP concepts.

We did work over 2 days using all the tools in the framework outlined in my book, THE CULTURE GAME. In this book I lay out the 16 specific practices that create nearly-automatic organizational learning. These practices are derived from agile, mostly from Scrum. These are the “trans-agile” practices. I call them Tribal Learning practices. If you commit to do them, your group learns fast, and almost automatically.

The Scrum framework is actually an amazing learning lab for teams. Teams literally “learn how to learn” when the framework is implemented in a genuine and authentic way… that is, in alignment with the spirit of Scrum, as described in the Scrum Guide.

My book is an enumeration of the practices I see the very best Scrum teams doing consistently inside my Agile coaching practice. Part 3 of THE CULTURE GAME details how use Dave’s triads to socialize the 16 trans-agile practices described in THE CULTURE GAME  book.


Playing the Culture Game at CultureSync

There were 5 of us present. We spent two days together. We ended up using all 16 of the practices described in my book, across those two days.

We got LOADS of work done.

The CultureSync team made these comments during the daily retrospectives:

“What just happened is amazing”

“I cannot believe how much we got done in one day!”

“It’s shocking how much fun this was. How much fun this IS!”

“Normally, after a full-day meeting, I’m glazed over. The day is over and I actually feel super-energized right now.”

“I’m in shock about how these simple practices completely change the tone and tempo of our meetings.”

“Some of these practices seem uncomfortable at first, and then it’s like: why weren’t we working this way years ago?”

I want you to notice that CultureSync has NOTHING to do with information technology and does not develop software.  CultureSync sells management consulting services, and training that supports leadership development.

Also, keep in mind that Dave Logan is the co-author of THE THREE LAWS OF PERFORMANCE and is tight with David Allen, the celebrated author of GETTING THINGS DONE.

The CultureSync folks are a tribe of over-achievers, much like Dave himself.

That made the feedback especially sweet !


The Coming Revolution in Work

It’s ten years since the Agile Manifesto. In my book, I explain how the high failure rates in software projects actually spawned a solution, and a revolution: agile, and Scrum.

In the book, I explain what Scrum is: a framework for creating shared knowledge, also known as team learning. Scrum itself creates small, team-sized learning organizations as described by Peter Senge and others. The habits of good Scrum teams are group learning practices. Being punctual, facilitating your meetings, opening the space, structuring your interactions … as described in the book, each of these (and the other 12) encourage and support absolutely massive levels of organizational learning.

The time has come to say it like it is: Scrum and related practices create a learning organization. We call it a Team. When that Team gets really good, it exhibits 16 specific habits I call Tribal Learning practices. When these practices are socialized using triads as described in TRIBAL LEADERSHIP, the results are truly amazing. Your organization gets smarter, adapts faster, has loads more fun, and makes loads more money, often at the direct expense of all your competitors.

The trans-agile revolution has arrived. Enterprise agile is here. It’s called the learning organization, powered by the Tribal Learning practices described in THE CULTURE GAME book.

Looking to ways for your organization to learn faster? Be more adaptive? Interested in how this works? THE CULTURE GAME books ships in February. You can learn more and pre-order the book, by following this link:

Learn more, and PRE-ORDER The Culture Game Book