It all started with the factory idea where an individual could bring worldwide change with a factory. This slowly shifted to whether an individual or brand could get on television as many times as possible or as many advertisements. Now it has become that change can come from leading. Seth Godin characterized this into cycles in his TED talk The Tribes We Lead.

The beginning appearances of innovative and revolutionary ideas have been characterized as the Factory Cycle. Henry Ford had the idea of creating an efficient factory where the machines would produce output at an insanely quick pace and this would create many job openings. Men who usually earned 50 cents a day would now earn five dollars. Eventually this brought major change for the USA as now more roads were built and the nature of transportation was changing for the better. The problem that slowly began to slither in was that in order to sustain this, ever-faster machines and ever-cheap labor was a constant requirement and both were running out. This led to the T.V. Cycle making its appearance.

Television and advertising became the new hit as now the mantra was to have a good idea and insanely market it. The logic behind this was that if an individual had enough money to get the word out to a substantial amount of people, this meant that product or service would gain a decent amount of sales. This soon became an industry. However, note that this manner of conduct requires the idea creator to be king who is in charge and is going to tell others what to do. The method, mass marketing, typically requires the ideas to be average because the individual will be going into masses of people and advertising intensely. All this soon transformed into a form of spamming as now people were trying to hypnotize others into buying something or donating for a cause; however, this does not work well anymore.

The third cycle, which Mr. Godin has labeled as ‘Ideas of Tribes’, is a concept that goes all the way to 50,000 years. It is all about connecting and leading people and ideas. This cycle has been seen in forms of a community, work or spiritual tribe. However, due a multitude of factors including the internet and mass media, tribes are everywhere. Instead of the internet homogenizing everyone, it has made it very easy for people to connect to groups that share their interest. For example, if a person wanted to connect to Ukrainian folk dancers, they could instantly do that. People can follow influencers and individuals and this is being greatly seen on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, etc. This concept of tribes can change the world as it lets a large number of people to align their interests and it is not because they were forced to do something instead they wanted to connect.

This tribe that forms will spread the idea and sometimes when it becomes bigger than the tribe, it transforms into a movement. An individual does not need everyone to spread the idea, around a thousand true supports is more than enough. This slowly gets you to the new round and if the individual is lucky, it could become a movement (depending on what the idea is and other factors). Idea creation has become a form of leadership. The ideas that could potentially become movements are ones where an individual finds a group of people that are disconnected but they have a yearning then creating an idea that fits their needs. The Borgen Project can be seen as an example. This is a non-profit organization that aims reduce extreme world poverty by first creating awareness in communities about life-saving legislation and poverty-reduction programs. Second, creating congressional relations with the U.S. Leaders. Once they mobilize people, they teach them the needed advocacy skills when it comes to interacting with U.S. government hence changing the lifespans for various bills and acts. Another example is the Beatles. This band just decided to lead teenagers by providing unique and great music. Airbnb, Facebook and Uber are other excellent examples. Just think about any innovative idea, product and service then check to see if they fall into this third cycle.

Mr. Godin has identified three questions any idea creator should ask themselves.

1- Who exactly are you upsetting?

2- Who are you connecting?

3- Who are you leading?

Also, three aspects leaders have in common when it comes to tribes are that they challenge a status quo, they form a culture and they truly commit to the idea. In conclusion, the next time anyone enters the idea creation space have all this in mind.


  • Haniya Sarfraz has published two scholarly journals on leadership. One on strategic leadership development and the other on differentiated time management skills between leadership styles. She continues to research and promote practical solutions and outlooks in leadership, management and business strategy.