The Ever-Learning Tribe

Feb 19, 2010, by vvelasquez

“Tribal Leadership” is one of the books that some of us have placed on the night stand. I haven’t read it fully, yet, but I have already found something interesting just by reading the homepage of the book, and this is the concept of tribes. I find this idea very inspirational for the kind of work we do.

A tribe's self-portrait

At Nearsoft, we extend our clients’ teams with talented engineers with complementary skills.  As influenced by  “Tribal Leadership”, I view these teams as “tribes,” each fit in skills and character.  At the same time, this teams that we create are part of a bigger tribe, the Nearsoft Tribe.

Humans are genetically programmed to form into groups (i.e., tribes); team building is something that comes to us naturally.  On the other hand, the culture of each tribe is different.

This is very important for us since we have realized that Nearsoft’s culture is one of our main assets and a source of the value we provide other tribes (i.e., our clients and partners).  In this way, understanding what is on the other side of our own tribe becomes very important.

Nearsoft Through the Ages

Let’s look a little bit to the past and see how the tribe of Nearsoft has evolved over time.

In ancient times, three years ago (we’re celebrating the company’s anniversay this weekend), the prehistoric Nearsoft was comprised by a handful of people and their individual goals.  Then, after gaining some experience and making more people an active part of our tribe, we got into a different age.  During this age, we “zoomed out” and saw a bigger picture: We all, as a company, must move towards the same goal.  And we all help each other to make it happen.

As in history, ages are defined by the tools used  (e.g., stone age, iron age).  Three years ago our main tool was just email.  In our “modern era,” we started using more tools such as wikis, blogs, Yammer and Twitter in order to learn from each other.  In addition to these web-based tools, we have been doing other social tools.  For example, everybody in the company participated in an exercise to map our culture and define our values using Innovation Games.

Social Learning

These new activities are part of what Marcia Conner called “Social Learning” in a recent Fast Company article.  According to Marcia,

Social learning is not just the technology of social media, although it makes use of it.  It is not merely the ability to express yourself in a group of opt-in friends.  Social learning combines social media tools with a shift in the corporate culture, a shift that encourages ongoing knowledge transfer and connects people in ways that make learning a joy.

We, as a tribe, have been changing the way we interact by creating more synergy in our internal relationships.  And now we can see how the following age looks like.  Actually, we are moving towards it: We are zooming out some more, to see with more clarity beyond our tribe’s culture.

For example, we have done this by helping in the organization of technology events like HermosilloDevHouse and the more recent the Geolocation Talks.  We are doing this to make sure we help our community learn along with us.

And more importantly, we want to learn more about the culture of our partners.  We want to see their goals clearly in order to align with them.  We want to extend our internal synergy and get closer to all our partners.

As Aristotle said, “the whole is more than the sum of its parts” and at Nearsoft we are experiencing this through continuous learning.

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