Houston Art Car Electric Moped

From the 2009 Houston Art Car Parade by the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art.


More 2009 Houston Art Car Parade Photographs here:

  1. 2009 Houston Art Car Sneak Peak at Discovery Green (26 photos)
  2. 2009 Houston Art Car Parade lineup and some VIP area photos (79 photos)
  3. The 2009 Houston Art Car Parade (320 photos)

These photos are creative commons attribution. This means you CAN use them but you MUST give credit with “photo by Ed Schipul”. Enjoy!

Tribal Citizenship Behavior

When a crisis occurs, like a hurricane hits your city or the country freaks out about the swine flu, part of a leaders job is to protect the tribe. To do that, the people have to be prepared. The first priority must then be to make sure every member of the tribe is prepared to take care of their family. Katrina made this concept clear:

The New Orleans police chief says some of his officers may still be trapped in their homes and he’s not sure how many walked off the job.

Walk off the job? Police!? Obviously family comes first. Or people won’t show up to work no matter how critical their job is because no job is more important than your family. Step one is to have everyone develop an “in case of emergency preparedness family plan“.

Assuming someone is prepared as best they can be, then what makes them a “team player” as they say. Well, as usual, “they” is wrong in that the phrase “team player” is like comparing the word “violin” to “Stradivarius”. What you REALLY want from your tribe members, peers, friends, etc, whether you know it or not, is far more nuanced that the phrase “team player” suggests. You want someone who is “cool with the tribe” and supports you ALL!

caroline-tribeA bit of research led me to the Distributive, Procedural and Interactive Justice scales by Niehoff & Moorman. If they weren’t academics they would call it a way to quantify employee satisfaction. But that isn’t really what I am after. More digging made me realize that the academics call what I am after, perhaps theirs is more narrow in scope, but they call it “Organizational Citizenship Behavior.” This criticism of Organizational Citizenship Behavior questions if good OCB is in fact in the best interest of the organization! But I’ll leave that to another day. For now OCB is comprised of four elements (from the above link):

OCB has four separate, but related behavior elements that differ in their target and direct objective.   It is believed that the indirect objective of all OCB is the benefit of organizational goals (Organ, 1988).   In a theoretical typology developed by Graham (1989; Moorman & Blakely, 1995; Moorman, Blakely, Niehoff, 1998) OCB categorizes into four types:

  1. personal industry,
    1. (the extent to which an individual performs tasks beyond the call of duty.   Employees who spontaneously work overtime, put in extra hours on a project, or volunteer to take on new projects are engaging in personal industry.)
  2. loyal boosterism,
    1. (the promotion of firm image to outsiders.   An employee that spontaneously compliments his employer to a member of another firm, a friend, or any stakeholder displays loyal boosterism behavior.)
  3. individual initiative,
    1. (communicating with others in the organization to improve individual and group performance) and
  4. inter-personal helping.
    1. (An employee, recognizing that a co-worker might benefit from possession of a piece of information, such as a sales contact, technical information, or market tip, and passing on such information without the other asking for it)


To summarize, OCB consist of non-obligatory, informally influenced behaviors.

I translate that last part to say what OCB is referring to, is stuff you do to help the organization that isn’t in your job description. It’s the stuff that makes life pleasant, like buying a Nerf Gun refill pack for your unarmed co-worker to make cubicles-war “fair” again. That stuff.

I think what I’m looking for is really a Tribal Citizenship Behavior index. With the definition of tribe being more loosely defined than just the employees of a company. A tribe that has even low clustering coefficients – meaning loosely bound.

Anthropologist Michel Maffesoli appears to have coined the term Neo-Tribalism which Wikipedia defines as:

Neotribalism is the ideology that human beings have evolved to live in a tribal, as opposed to a modern, society, and thus cannot achieve genuine happiness until some semblance of tribal lifestyles has been re-created or re-embraced.

Tribes are not organizations, at least in the context of OCB as I understand it. An easy example; in tribes people have distinct roles including that of the cynic who provides constant creative tension. Yet the cynic DOES add value in times of crisis because they foresee the need for batteries, chain saws, and medical masks before a crisis. While not wildly popular perhaps, they fix the weakest link in a tribe at specific times. Maybe a score of 5/10 on a day-to-day basis on the OCB scale, but a 10/10 for Tribal Citizenship Behavior when the *&@#! hits the fan! This need to remain loosely joined (a clustering coefficient closer to zero) quickly snaps back into place during a crisis (a clustering coefficient closer to 1 – we ALL know the guy with the generator after a Hurricane!).

I’ll keep thinking about this (of course) but I wanted to highlight two other concepts from OCB that we can borrow for TCB are dominant coalitions and technological change as a tribe restructuring catalyst:

Dominant Coalitions

A dominant coalition consists of the network of individuals within and around an organization that most influence the mission and goals of the organization (Cyert & March, 1963).   In theory, the goals of an organization flow from the chief executive officer, board of directors, or top management team.   However, the dominant coalition maintains an influence on goals through informal, rather than formal, channels.

When it comes to social media, public relations and tribal behavior, you have a unique problem. It is considered “uncool” to call yourself a “Social Media Expert“. And indeed like any other trend that goes mainstream, every new kid on the block joins in when their last trendy business dries up and becomes an “expert”. I overheard a conversation the other day that was “I didn’t follow her back (on twitter) because her description said ‘social media expert’ and she only had 22 followers!”. I wouldn’t have followed back either so I am part of the problem in a way.

The point is the “cool kids find it cool to deny being cool.” Or, the dominant coalitions in tribal citizenship behavior deny being influencers in the first place.

which ties into technology as follows

A technological change within an organization may provide the impetus for power changes within the organization.   Burkhardt and Brass (1990) studied the introduction of a new computer technology into a governmental agency.   They found that early adopters of the technology gained a significant amount of informal power in the organization, which could be used to join or enhance one’s membership in the dominant coalition.   Thus, such changes in technology could result in altered membership in the dominant coalition.

Or “The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth.” If this premise is true it not only changes the complexion of the dominant coalitions and the tribe itself, but it is a biased change. By that I mean tech people are more introverted than extroverted, more logical than mathematical, tend towards aspergers, etc… In other words a different personality type has joined the dominant coalition. Perhaps a good thing! But a change to be noted regardless.

In conclusion, Tribal Citizenship Behavior (TCB, heh) can borrow heavily from Organizational Citizenship Behavior. Like OCB we can borrow personal industry, loyalty, initiative, people helping people.   We can try to measure dominant coalitions in a tribe. Measure intention which is always critical. But these aren’t enough because a tribe may not have a stated goal like an organization, beyond preservation of the tribe. Which, again, is why we start by personal emergency planning.

More posts on the topic of Tribal Citizenship Behavior as my thoughts evolve. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic?

The Godfather, The Undertaker, and Informal Systems

In recent talks I have found an anecdote that has worked well to explain the difference between formal and informal systems that most Americans can relate to. The book The Godfather opens with:

Amerigo Bonasera sat in New York Criminal Court Number 3 and waited for justice; vengeance on the men who had so cruelly hurt his daughter, who had tried to dishonor her. (pg 3)

bridgeThe two young men who did this were set free by a corrupt judge. Amerigo Bonasera, the Sicilian Undertaker, concludes “For justice we must go on our knees to Don Corleone.” The formal American system in this fictional book has failed our Undertaker. So he reaches out to the informal system in his community; Don Corleone. When they meet on the day of Corleone’s daughter’s funeral, a day “that by tradition no Sicilian can refuse a request” (pg 17), Amerigo asks the Godfather to have the men killed. Corleone refuses and rebukes Amerigo for basically being a rainy-day-friend. Corleone says:

“…until this day you never came to me for counsel or help. I can’t remember the last time you invited me to your house for coffee though my wife is godmother to your only child. Let us be frank. You spurned my friendship. You feared to be in my debt. … Now you come to me and say, ‘Don Corleone give me justice.'” (pg 21)

he continues

“Why do you fear to give your allegiance to me? … if you had come to me, my purse would have been yours. If you had come to me for justice those scum who ruined your daughter would be weeping bitter tears this day. If by some misfortune an honest man like yourself made enemies they would become my enemies” – the Don raised his finger pointing at Bonasera – “and then, believe me, they would fear you.”

“you shall have your justice. Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do me a service in return. Until that day, consider this justice a gift from my wife, your daughter’s godmother.” (pg 23)

Justice is delivered on page 53 “… they seemed to be pulps of human beings. Miraculously, said the News, they were both still alive though they would both be in the hospital for months and would require plastic surgery.” – And the Undertaker owes the Godfather.

All of us can relate to this story, particularly if we have children. “I don’t need you! I’m (an adult/in high school/have my own job/etc/etc) now! I can do it on my own!” But really NONE of us can do it on our own, with any level of success at least. It takes support from both formal and informal systems. Success requires support from family, the rule of law, the employer and these days more and more success requires the full support of extended urban tribes.

For Public Relations folks, I like to bring up the shift from formal distribution (traditional mainstream media) to informal distribution (bloggers, youtube, twitter brand attacks). In my opinion, many people in PR and in media DO understand the shift from centralized to distributed (long tail, small pieces loosely joined) media. Yet what they potentially don’t fully understand is the shift in authority from the police to the Don Corleone’s of the world. And let us not forget the Godfather wasn’t exactly a saint, collecting protection money, bribing the police and “knocking off” the competition.

For public relations professionals, the bloggers are hidden (no Bacon’s directory! gasp!). And bloggers are completely biased and proud of it. And have authority far beyond what a small olive importer should have. From the bloggers perspective the world is finally acknowledging their informal system of authority. About time.

Just an observation about the shift from formal authority in the media to a more informal system. And we all need to get to know and be friends with the new kids in town. With respect.

Swine Flu – We’re all (NOT) Gonna Die Man!

STOP IT! Just STOP IT damnit. No, we are all NOT going to die from Swine Flu. Sheesh.

“The biggest question is this — how severe will the pandemic be, especially now at the start,” Chan said. “It really is all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic.”

True, the definition of pandemic is:

pandemic: an epidemic that is geographically widespread; occurring throughout a region or even throughout the world

Yet that could describe the popularity of Heidi Montag as well as the spread of Swine Flu (hat tip to the Jewish & Muslim Political correctness police). Even the Governor is fundraising excited.

protect-yourself-firestorm-flu-webinarSo what are the facts about Swine Flu? I attended an informative webinar about swine flu from Firestorm today. Some highlights are:

Dr. Stephen Cunnion explains Swine Flu:

  1. The swine flu is not transmitted by eating pork. People catch the flu from other people passing the germs.
  2. The first reported case was on March 22nd. The gestation of the influenza virus can be up to a week long so we still don’t have exact facts and figures.
  3. The flu virus is the number one cause for lack of productivity for companies any given year.
  4. The BEST WAY to avoid contracting the Flu is the use of Hand Sanitizers and the avoidance of super crowded places.

How is the Flu transmitted?

  1. Directly via human to human contact, droplet or airborne contact
  2. Indirectly via objects handled by someone who has contracted the flu

So how is this swine flu thing going to play out. A few predictions about the Swine Flu / H1N1 flu in the US. I shouldn’t call these a prediction, this is more of how I see things possibly playing out in a “best and worst case” scenario.

End game: It is a new virus. It is here permanently. People get used to it and live with it. We just have to make it to September when a new vaccine is produced. In the meantime the virus responds to treatment and regular flu prevention tactics.

Short Term Media Panic:

  1. Media hysteria leads to –
    1. shut all schools in the USA and we all stay home.
    2. NBA, MLB, NFL all play to empty stadiums
    3. NYC subways shut down, the American (wasteful/isolated) car rules
  2. Many small businesses shut down because nobody is working. Worsening the depression recession. (when can we call it a depression?)
  3. Businesses can’t pay people because, well, they don’t have any money at this point.
  4. Employees call the office and say “um…. can we get some cash?”
    1. Management calls the White House for a bail out.
    2. White house says “no, we gave it all to the bankers and a pittance to the car guys who can’t negotiate a contract and we’re broke. Ooops.”
  5. Everyone realizes that they need to go back to work. But there are no customers.
  6. Employees, white collar included, come back with partial telecommute schedules.
    1. Most work hourly because there isn’t enough work for salary.
    2. Hourly wage works against self-containment of infected workers as there is no “sick time” so they have a monetary incentive to come to work even if sick. Irony.
  7. You can’t buy a surgical or painters mask anywhere
    1. Western Stores sell out of handkerchiefs
  8. Bleach gets very popular (a dangerous chemical, some will injure themselves with it)
  9. Pig farmers go out of business and religious nuts gets all old-testament righteous about it.
  10. Purell, the maker of sanitizers gets very popular / stock goes up
  11. Density of housing goes up with families moving in together to cut costs even though this spreads disease faster.
  12. Community unlicensed child care facilities form on an ad-hoc basis. Mary covers Tues, Thur. Bob covers the kids Mon, Wed, Fri. etc…
    1. Neighbors helping neighbors.
    2. Untrained unlicensed facilities means accidents will happen that are not related to the flu.
  13. Home schooling goes up.
  14. Abandonment of marginal properties by upside-down home owners skyrockets, particularly in dense North Eastern cities
    1. Or alternatively this may not happen as banks may not bother to kick out foreclosures or tenants because there is no market for upside down houses.
  15. Victory gardens in the backyard are very popular. Seeds sell out, but few know how to garden anymore.
    1. Community gardens
    2. Web tutorials on gardening become popular.
    3. Theft of community vegetables as is typical of the tragedy of the commons.
  16. UPS, FedEX and the USPS all see a surge in business. Drivers paid a premium.
  17. Amazon.com has huge success selling books, videos, anything that fills time for a family trapped at home!
  18. Wall mounted hand sanitizers sell out, only to find you can’t buy refills for them.
  19. The Internet slows to a crawl with the increase in throughput from telecommuters
  20. Local Internet Service Providers force through variable pricing on bandwidth with public consent because everyone wants the network to run faster.
  21. Gun stores have an increase in sales, with all customers entering and exiting the store wearing masks. Really.
  22. Hard alcohol and beer sales up, wine sales drop based on discretionary spending priority. More bang for the shot with the hard stuff.
  23. Gas prices drop – with no place to go demand side of equation drops, at least until the fall of 2009 when oil and natural gas go up with more people staying home.
  24. Home safe sales increase. Gun safes as well.
  25. Debit card use increases so people can avoid touching cash and physical artifacts of money.
  26. The virus reveals itself to have genetic targeting factors meaning different races have different fatality rates.
  27. Increase in religious activity, but perhaps a drop in mass/service attendance
  28. Cruises see a huge drop in use, advertise guest/square foot ratios to emphasize separation. Heat detectors throughout the ship to measure body temperature.
  29. Blogging increases, facebook increases as people have time on their hands. Short term.
  30. Tamiflu and Relenza sell out because it is safer for docs to prescribe those if they are unsure of what a patient has, and it takes 3 to 5 days to get the test results back

What can you do now?

  2. Antibacterial Soap – buy it. Purell is sold out, but hand sanitizers are not as good as actually washing your hands anyway.
  3. Bleach – buy it. Best sanitizer/cleaner ever. And cheap. Just be careful with it.
  4. Facemasks – questionable if these work, but if you go to the mall and EVERYONE is wearing one, social pressure says you will want one. Handkerchiefs will do.