TEDx Auckland – Session One: Michael Henderson

As I alluded in my initial TEDx Redux, the inaugural Auckland event was awesome. In the next three posts I will briefly cover my perspectives on the presentations delivered at this, the first TEDx event in Auckland, New Zealand.

TEDxAkl - The only passable photo I haveThe first speaker was a fascinating guy called Michael Henderson [UPDATE: Looks like something ‘weird’ is happening with his domain,try here for his cached page in the interim] , a Corporate Anthropologist. As well as being unemployable (who want’s an Anthropologist anyway?), he is never bored – because people are so interesting to study. Some observations:

  • Organisations are the modern tribes
  • CEO – Interesting title
    • Chief – Head of the tribe
    • Executive – Head of Structure
    • Officer – Very Militaristic – Head of Strategy
  • The difference between a cult and a culture is:
    • In a cult, the leader sees greatness in themselves
    • In a culture, the leader sees greatness in people
    • Silo mentality never occurs in a tribe
  • Engagement Studies
    • Organisations:
      • Engagement = email sort
      • Worldwide ~20% of employees are engaged and 80% sit on the fence
    • Tribes
      • Engagement = contact sport
      • No tribes run engagement surveys, all members are engaged 100% as you are either learning, doing or teaching

“Why is no one teaching GenY to respect those who came before them as sources of learning?”

Executives go on a ‘retreat’ (never an advance?) then return to proclaim new company values to their employees.

  • Employees don’t hear values, they hear violations;

“Integrity, really?? Aren’t you the CxO trying to set up XYZ to fail so you can get more headcount/budget?”

“Language is the bloodline of a tribe”

His parting observation was on the two dynamic forces of organisations: Relationship versus Results

“Measure yourself on Relationship versus Result – is the win [on this point] worth more than the long term relationship?”

The interesting observation I made about his talk was that, not only was I noting the same points as one of my colleagues, these same points were also being noted by a number of other ‘corporate types’ around where we were seated.


For another summary of the talk, click here to see what Missing Link said.


Update: A TED talk on this theme of Anthropology and Tribes was posted recently “David Logan on Tribal Leadership”

Update: Domain seems to be back – have adjusted links & text


Update: September 2011 – Added Michaels new business sites and the following TEDx video…

2 thoughts on “TEDx Auckland – Session One: Michael Henderson”

  1. Thanks to all those on twitter who’ve let me know that there’s something up with the link to Michaels website – I’ve dropped a Google Cache link into the article, and have called Michael to let him know. (The speed of social media rocks doesn’t it?) – Cheers, Rob

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