Ever since I was a kid, my dream has always been to travel the world and discover faraway lands and exotic cultures. As a young girl, I’d climb a tree in our garden and spend hours hidden in the branches, imagining that it was the crow’s nest of a ship and that I was a pirate on her way to experience amazing adventures.
One of my favorite books back then was Around the World in 80 Days by Julius Verne. Then, I got obsessed with Toni Halik, a Polish explorer and documentary film-maker. I must have seen all of the three hundred TV shows and series that he and his wife, Dzikowska, produced for Polish television. And finally, when I was a bit older, I came across the wonderful work of Ryszard Kapuściński, an acclaimed Polish reporter and explorer, Margaret Mead, Claude Levi-Strauss, Karen Blixen, and so many others.
I. Was. Hooked.
What I realize now is that, at heart, I’ve always been an anthropologist, and my sense of adventure has been linked to people and the tribes they live in - discovering their customs and experiencing the unique rhythm of their lives. But tribal culture isn’t limited to a dense jungle. One of the most fascinating tribal cultures on Earth can be found in office buildings and factories. And so, it’s no surprise that speaking to my guest, Jitske Kramer, was such a huge treat for me.
Jitske Kramer is a Dutch anthropologist. She travels all over the world to learn from traditional healers, leaders, surprising innovators, and random passersby. She looks at the world and at organizations through the eyes of an anthropologist, and what she sees is fascinating. In this interview, we talk about the making of a corporate tribe.
In this episode, Jitske and I talk about the stories that shape culture. Here are some of the things that we discussed:
- The lessons Jitske learned when doing research in Uganda
- The two opposites that attract us: harmony and disruption
- What is anthropology and how it’s relevant to organizational life
- Nature and nurture debate in the context of culture
- The elements that shape culture: purpose, definition power, and the cultural narrative
- One of the biggest misunderstandings about self-organized teams
- The importance of reflecting on what leadership means in your organization
- Why boundaries are important and how to set them in a way that supports rather than constrains
- Two forces present in every tribe: power and love and how they play out in modern organizations
- What to do to set foundations for a healthy culture in a start-up or a new team
- How to effectively deal with diversity in a team and create true inclusivity
- The three stages of change and the different types of leadership required for each of the stages
- The nature and importance of rituals
- The three questions you need to ask every day to cultivate an inclusive and healthy culture
Listen to the interview in the player below or on iTunes. If you like what you hear, please leave a review, and it may be featured on a future episode.
More About Jitske Kramer
Jitske Kramer brought Deep Democracy to the Netherlands in 2012, and she now works with a team of instructors to provide Deep Democracy training courses. She is always looking for ways to build strong tribes and reinforce the relationships between people. And then she brings that knowledge back to the world of organizing, cooperation, and leadership through challenging keynotes and masterclasses—to improve the strength and results of individuals and groups (and to make the world a more beautiful place). She trains people so that we never have to have meetings again. She takes you along in narratives that create space for new ways of seeing and new ways of dealing. Gradually, what is familiar becomes strange and what is strange becomes familiar.
Books and Resources Mentioned in this Episode:
- Jam Cultures by Jitske Kramer
- “Voodoo," blog post by Jitske Kramer
- Viral Change by Leandro Herrero
- Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
- The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek