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How to prepare for the digital future: aligning the 8 tribes

I believe that we are in the midst of a 4th industrial revolution. This one is characterised by networks as the primary mode of social organisation and is facilitated by new technologies that are changing all parts of people’s lives.

This ‘digital’ era creates new opportunities and requires new ways of working to meet customer demands.

Customers want to:

  • receive immediate answers and detailed responses to questions and issues
  • be in control of their information and decide what is done with it
  • be able to do things independently at all times for all things
  • be able to change things as and when they want to
  • tailor things the way that is best for them, not the company.

Responding to these demands means ‘being digital’; pretending isn’t enough. And being digital means disruptive changes leading to profound and beneficial behaviour change in customers and staff. It is likely to include technology but is not defined by this. It is also not a static end state, but a way of thinking. Organisations must create the building blocks to drive positive disruption and behaviour change amongst customers, staff and suppliers to achieve specified outcomes.

However, the word ‘digital’ has accrued multiple different definitions and, as a result, has implications for what it means to an organisation. In fact, it can feel that different ‘tribes’ have created their own definitions – with accompanying bonds, beliefs and rituals – which can create divisions instead of alignment around your digital ambitions.

Our 8 tribes model identifies the different definitions of digital and their levels of maturity within organisations. Built from observational and ethnographic research by Dr Catherine Howe[1], these different tribes each represent different waves of technology and waves of change that have been experienced by various service sectors.

Understanding the prevalence of the 8 tribes across your organisation presents three opportunities:

  • seeing the tribes in your organisation will help you see where your digital agenda has been captured or where the gaps are
  • none of the tribes work on their own; recognising them enables you to find ways for them to work together and create successful transformational change
  • sometimes tribes fight; understanding the prevalence of the tribes and the intensity of their beliefs will help you manage the change process more effectively.


Take a look at our webinar to find out more about the 8 tribes model.

Photo of Andy Theedom

Andy Theedom

Digital market director, Capita Transformation

Andy is a believer in the power of digital – disruptive interventions that shape behaviours to secure outcomes and improve the lives of individuals and communities. He works with clients to design and implement the transformational change that can unlock and enhance this. Andy brings experiences from working in and with a wide variety of local and national authorities on topics such as demand management, digital futures and adult social care. These insights are applicable across a range of industries and users and Andy is at the heart of developing Capita’s approach in this area.

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