I’m not one for hierarchies and titles. I never have been. Makes me feel uncomfortable. In fact, our HR team even commented one day “I bet you didn’t have a top table at your wedding Sarah”. They were right.
I studied Product Design, Innovation and Marketing at University and have always been fascinated with organisational design and how you cultivate ideas from within a business. It was there that I learned about Peter Drucker, Japanese kaizen methods and Harvard Business Review. It all sounds very highbrow, but it wasn’t – I’ve always been curious about culture and how teams operate.
As our tribe grew, I felt that we needed to scrap the traditional organisational charts in favour of tribal bubbles (very topical in the current climate). It didn’t feel like we were big enough for a corporate team structures and rigid performance management frameworks but it’s all I’ve known.
It felt more important for us to be agile and innovative, morphing with the market and our customer’s needs. I had no idea what this was going to look like, so we’ve been learning as we go. In recognition that nothing stays the same for long, what you read here might look totally different in another 5 years’ time!
Our Circles Of Influence
The Core Tribe sits within the heart of our business. These are employees (part-time and full-time) of Tribal Impact who work directly alongside our customers but and keep us operating like a lean machine behind the scenes. More on that later.
From there we have our Extended Tribe of contractors. This is an amazing team who work day-to-day to support our core tribe and customers directly with writing content, coaching and training. They are no less important than our core tribe. We support them with ongoing training and keep them close to our business because they’re essential to our growth and success.
Finally, we have our Tribal Supporters. These are folks who may or may not work with us (as a customer or contractor), but they love social business transformation as much as we do. They chat with us on social media, they think of us when they read articles and forward them on. They watch our adventure and engage with our content. They motivate, inspire and give me goose bumps when they reach out with their virtual high-fives.
What I love about this model is we have created an eco-system. A community. Not by design but by accident!
Some of our supporters become core tribe members. Some of our Extended Tribe refer us to customers. Some of our Core Tribe become Extended Tribe as circumstances change. People move within the tribal eco-system and that’s what I love the most.
Structuring Our Tribe For Growth
Our Core Tribe is structured a little differently but still with bubbles. Scrapping the hierarchies felt right but we still needed structure and clear way of operating. Roles and responsibilities (which admittedly we’re still figuring out) need to be transparent otherwise we duplicate effort and waste time. As any start-up founder will tell you, time is like gold – scarce and valuable.
I remember sketching out these bubbles a couple of years ago, discussing it with the team to get their feedback - understanding where they sat currently and where they might want to go. The more discussions I had the more solid this structure felt and now it’s our operating model.
As a marketer, I’ve witnessed sales and marketing conflict first-hand. The debate over lead quality and timeliness has never gone away, causing a headache for both parties. It wasn’t until I started Tribal that I realised the two aren’t so different – in fact, they’re closely intertwined especially now that digital technologies have massively changed the way businesses operate.
I’ve never been a fan of splitting sales and marketing out. Why? Because in a world where buyers are digital first, Marketing needs to move further down the funnel (Digital Inbound) and Sales are moving further up it (Social Selling). Both need to monitor digital triggers and unless they are aligned (to the customer) they’ll miss the opportunities! Hence, Growth.
Our Growth team is focused on development – simple as that.
Development of our people, our business, our brand and our products. Whilst ideas come from across our tribe, Growth is where we work with new customers, build relationships and welcome them into the tribe.
Delivery & Delight
Our second bubble is focused on delivering and delighting our customers. We obsess over the Net Promoter Score (NPS) at Tribal and tie the results into our processes and benchmark metrics. I consider delighting is just as important as delivering but it helps that our whole team has a “do what it takes” attitude. If we don’t get the results we expect, we keep going until we do.
Early on in our Tribal journey we invested in the technology to underpin how we work alongside our customers and with each other. This allowed us to create repeatable and scalable processes early on. It also ensured we’re connecting the experience between our tribe and theirs.
But the people are what makes Delivery and Delight a strong function for us. We have a fantastic team of people who thrive on learning - growing their knowledge and working with customers as if they were partners. Caring for their budget as if it were their own.
Finance & Operations
Our third bubble, and the one that underpins the other two, is all about how we operate. Our Finance team are embedded into the delivery process as if they were part of that team. They know the projects, the budget, the forecast and the pipeline. Their finger is well and truly on the delivery process.
But operationally, our Finance & Operations team are the glue that holds us altogether. They’re totally transparent with our Core Tribe - everyone in the company knows our financial health. They build and manage the infrastructure and tools we need to operate as a remote team. That’s why they are the core foundation of Growth & Delivery/Delight
As we grow, we continue to learn and adapt as a tribe. We don’t have this sorted by any means but what I have learned along the way is to share the experience. Companies like Trello and Buffer openly share how they operate a remote working business. Therefore, it felt right, as we celebrate 5 years, to open the doors and provide a glimpse into our Tribal journey in the hope it might inspire and motivate others in some way.