Cliques and Tribes

At various points in my career I’ve bounced between Cliques and Tribes and back. While Cliques can be good to get new people up and running and do provide a strong bond between members I do feel that they are detrimental overall.

It seems to me that the main goal of a Clique is to preserve status quo. The Clique resists all forms of change. Generally speaking, anything new is a threat to the status quo, including adding people to the Clique. The Clique doesn’t want to grow in size, diversity of skills or across disciplines. The Clique is motivated by fear.

The signs that you’re in a Clique

Therefore, a member of the Clique is so invested in themselves and the Clique it’s hard for them to be invested in the projects they’re working on.

On the other hand the tribe seems to be most concerned with growth, or at least adaptation. Are conditions changing? The Tribe usually drives those changes, or at least discusses the best ways to handle it.

The Tribe is concerned with the whole, it looks to expand it’s skills internally and across disciplines, as well as it’s size. The Tribe is intrinsically motivated to create the best work they can. The Tribe is motivated by growth.

The signs that you’re in a Tribe

Does the Tribe sound good? Here’s how you can start turning the Clique into a Tribe.

Start with yourself.
Publicly state your goals, report on them. Have goals and communicate with people that are cross functional. Take lunch with people outside the Clique. Learn something that isn’t in your job description. Ask to have more of that kind of work, or even better, just do it as long as you don’t step on someone else’s toes. When a problem arises, don’t just resign yourself to that’s how we always do it” or things will never change”. Look for potential solutions and talk about them. In a nutshell, take steps to mitigate your lizard brain.

This openness will get you noticed and you’ll be able to enter one or more of the healthy Tribes if they exist, or begin to form your own. People in your former Clique may see the benefits of the change and come with you. Most importantly, your efforts will most likely improve the projects you are involved with.

Posted on 2/2/2013

Where the Light Gathers is a blog by Chad Moore.

I write about doing less with technology, parenthood, working with creative and technical people, improv comedy, writing fiction, and woodworking.

Email me, check out my Micro Blog where I post photos and what I'm thinking, reading, or watching. Or read another post:

January 2019  1 post


November 2018  4 posts

Change  ·  Calls  ·  Using a minimal iPhone  ·  Unoverwhelmed

October 2018  1 post

My new old computer

September 2018  2 posts

Improv101  ·  A Quiet Place

August 2018  2 posts

The Other Direction  ·  Blotmentions

July 2018  3 posts

Side Hustle Sprint  ·  Beep  ·  Minimal design

June 2018  1 post

Setting up and

April 2018  2 posts

blotter  ·  Time

March 2018  1 post

Minimal Digital

December 2017  1 post

Side Hustle

November 2017  1 post

The Art of 3D Modeling at Digital Portsmouth

October 2017  1 post


September 2017  1 post

Leadership for Animators (and other creative people too)

August 2017  1 post


July 2017  4 posts

Drafts and Actions  ·  First things first  ·  100 years  ·  Lower than Erlich

March 2017  4 posts

I am not a minimalist  ·  Sips  ·  Carrd  ·  conservation

February 2017  7 posts

WTF per paragraph  ·  chimera  ·  Text Expansion is built into iOS  ·  Blot, aText & nvAlt  ·  Collusion  ·  Tsundoku  ·  A simpler way

January 2017  1 post


December 2016  2 posts

Don't compare your backstage to their onstage  ·  Ideas are cheap

September 2016  3 posts

Kid A, Owls, and perfect pens.  ·  I am uncomfortable, which is good.  ·  The perfect pen

August 2016  2 posts

Premortem  ·  Every 6 weeks

July 2016  3 posts

Mini-disconnects  ·  Get to know a furnace.  ·  Just the Facts

June 2016  4 posts

Dude, where’s my car?  ·  The Doodle  ·  Crazy  ·  Bones

February 2016  4 posts

Broken Records  ·  Little white numbers in little red circles  ·  Squirrel  ·  Right Now

January 2016  2 posts

I loved arguing with my son about doing his homework Never Alone

December 2015  1 post

Mr. Oldman stands up and expands

November 2015  3 posts

Some notes on Agile Development  ·  Single Tasking and Spotlight  ·  Sacrifices

October 2015  1 post

My Leaf blower doesn’t have bluetooth

June 2015  1 post

#Digital Portsmouth, The Art of Video Games

April 2015  2 posts

A call from out of the blue Ask

September 2014  1 post


May 2014  1 post

Nerd Alert

August 2013  1 post

UX for Technical Artists

February 2013  1 post

Cliques and Tribes

January 2013  2 posts

Pay it Forward Trust

May 2012  1 post

Four Distractions

October 2011  1 post

The three things we need at work