The Pursuit of Attention – Quotes

The pursuit of attention is now emerging as one of the electric organizing principles of American life. Not only are people pursuing attention in new ways, but there is evidence that we have begun to restructure our culture – including even our politics and economy – around the idea of attention as a glittering ultimate recognition and reward. Celebrities are the icons, but the pursuit of attention is now being diffused and institutionalized, hardwired into our beings through new systems of media, business, and technology, and fueled by new, aching deprivations that prey on our psyches. The result is a spreading virus of prosaic but dehumanizing behavior that subtly alienates us from one another and turns daily interactions into a veiled competition for recognition and respect.

– Introduction to The Pursuit of Attention, second edition, by Charles Derber. 1979, 2000

All my stripper friends
All my ex-boyfriends
We all want the same thing
We all want the same thing
Parties in the bar, reaching for the stars
We all want the same thing

All My Stripper Friends, Tila Tequila

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)

and

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?

Quotable Futurist – Perhaps Baby Boomers Don’t Need Technology in the Future

PeterbishopI recently attended a presentation at IABC Houston by Dr. Peter Bishop, Houston’s resident futurist.  Some great quotes below, and then perhaps some constructive feedback and questions.

Riding the Future’s Waves of Creative Destruction
Dr. Peter C. Bishop Futurist, and Associate Professor in the College of Technology and Coordinator of the graduate program in Futures Studies
University of Houston

The Dr. Bishop is very quotable dropping a few lines on the future such as:

“What goes away (in the future) is the traditional job. “¦ if you are not using judgment and value adds then I can tell a machine to do that job.“

“The very thing you think you have the least control over, what happens 15 years out, is what you have the most control over.“

“When an era ends we will be in a world of confusion and risk. “¦ When the first person realizes they are in a new era they have a significant advantage.“

“Communication (in the future) is instantaneous and simultaneous.  If you are not instantaneous then you’re not there yet.  If your information is not simultaneously available to everyone then you’re not there yet.“

More quotes on the future here.

I had a presentation at 2:00 so had to leave the IABC luncheon quickly.  So we were not able to spend much time with Bishop after the presentation, but looking for a moment of bonding I asked briefly if he used bloglines.  "No time" was the response.  I protested that lack of time is the reason to USE tools that improve your consumption and filtering of information.  "For a futurist, I don’t use the computer much." was the follow up response. Baroo?

Note I am not protesting someone using alternate tools, Mac vs PC, Linux vs Unix, Photoshop vs Gimp, rather I am questioning an apparent unwillingness to look at tools of the future now.

"The future is already here – it’s just unevenly distributed." – William Gibson

So basically our baby-boomer futurist doesn’t keep up on communication technology.  I truly believe you can have great Doctors who aren’t tech savvy in the geek way.  But a freakin’ futurist?  This is just lack of discipline.  Perhaps a lack of respect for the craft of "futurism"?  Perhaps most damning is that by his own choice his communication inbound and outbound is not instantaneous and simultaneous. 

Maybe I’m wrong and I’ll get a Bishop trackback telling me I am nuts and got it all wrong.  I hope so for the sake of the future!

Mainstream Public Relations Will Grow Even If They Don’t “Get It”

Tom Foremski in an interesting public relations and tech article predicts a major shake up disruption in "mainstream PR."  I find fault with his logic but I do applaud his thinking and would rather suggest that adding historical elements would solve the logic problem leading to an alternate result.  A result in fact that is opposite; that mainstream PR agencies will learn and adapt and integrate SEO and Social Software into strategy and tactics just like they learned that new fangled medium called "radio" a while back.

First, Tom’s logic:

Disruption in mainstream media but where is the disruption in the mainstream PR industry?
. . .it’s coming

<snip>The companies are able to reach many of their customers through search engine marketing–and that drives revenues. Yet those same companies want to be visible in the media, in news stories, features, radio and TV shows–because they believe this will drive revenues.

If the companies know that mainstream media is inefficient at advertising and therefore of less value in helping to drive revenues. . . why do they believe there is great value in being mentioned in the mainstream media?

and

-Companies can sell their products and services with a far lower cost of sales these days, because it is easier than ever to reach their customers directly through search engine marketing and blogs.

-This means there that there is far less value offered by mainstream media and mainstream public relations in the product and services sales process.

The flaw in the argument is of course the assumption that mainstream PR agencies only obtain coverage for their clients in the mainstream media. 

For example Bernays was known for starting his PR campaigns with a memorable event and using a multi pronged approach to obtain coverage across media.  An interesting event will be covered by all sorts of media both online and offline.  Having a sound foundation for your PR strategy, even if you are NOT tech savvy, will generate BETTER RESULTS in the current media environment.  Radio expanded PR because it was another new media.

Now, I don’t doubt that the mainstream PR agencies are a bit clueless (nice title tag Ogilvy!) when it comes to tech.  I wrote an article for PR Tactics last year and recently submitted another.   Our tech savvy PR agency in Dallas keeps telling me to simplify.  I reply "but isn’t RSS already simple?" – and the answer is consistently "no".  They challenge me to clarify the message.  I get frustrated and try to improve knowing they are correct.

PR works for reasons articulated best here.  Mainstream PR, along with the rest of the PR industry, will continue to grow.  That is my prediction.  And I am sticking to it.