THE BIG IDEA: Cohesive organizations and customer communities are created by the same mechanism. If you know what’s at the heart of both, you can build a thriving organization that fosters passionate customers.
Like a hand full of marbles pouring into a bowl, when you put a bunch of people together, there’s chaos.
Egos bump heads like marbles colliding.
But then, a group begins to constellate around the center.
This center can take various forms.
In sports clubs and political groups, the center is a common goal, like winning a championship or an election.
In activist groups, the center is a cause, a slogan, or a set of beliefs.
In religions, the center is a God-image.
In corporate cultures, the center can be an inspiring vision, mission, or set of core values.
In destructive cults, the center is a charismatic leader with narcissistic and messianic qualities.
In Cult Brands, the center is usually an ideal, a set of values, or a theme of interest.
What Draws Groups Together
The group’s center acts as a magnet, attracting members to its core. The more powerful the center, the more cohesive the group.
Here’s the secret to transforming your organization and your customer relationships: the more archetypal the center, the more solid, enduring, and cohesive the group.
Archetypes draw people together. They inspire loyalty and connectedness.
As inherited dispositions in every human being, archetypes cause us to react in typical (instinctive) ways. Archetypes bind us together as members of the human family.
An Illustration of Archetypes in Action
Historically, world religions have kept the largest groups of humans together. The center of these religions (Christ, Buddha, Krishna, Muhammad) is the archetype of the Anthropos, the cosmic man, a collective soul that unites all people.
Destructive cults, too, constellate around this God image. Its members project this powerful archetype—what Jung called the Self—onto the leader.
The Self, as well as God or Nature, has been described by many ancient philosophers as an “infinite sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” (We can all ponder that on our lunch break today.)
Symbolic images that point to the Self, like the circle, the apple, the star, the tree, and the egg, are found in countless religious narratives, myths, fairy tales, and individual dreams.
The Self, in its masculine expression, often takes the form of the wise old man, the guide, the mentor with supernatural aid. This archetype is expressed by characters like Merlin from the Arthurian legend, Gandalf in the The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit series, and Yoda in the Star Wars franchise.
In its feminine expression, the Self may take the form of an earth mother or love goddess. Southwest Airlines, for example, is aligned with the feminine expression of the Self. Their organization is guided by the principles of relatedness, care, and love—all attributes of the feminine Self.
Putting Archetypes to Work in Your Organization
How do you put archetypes to work?
Start at the center. The center is unique for each organization. Your strengths hint at it. Your organization’s passions point you in the right direction. The forces that drive your customers to do business with you provide invaluable clues.
How will you know when you’ve found your center? Your heart will awaken. Your employees will come together as teams. Innovation will increase by virtue of the passions of the men and women guided by archetypal forces deep within them. Your stakeholders will observe it. Your customers will hear the call.
Remember: the more archetypal, the more essential, and the more human your center is, the more cohesive your organization will become. And, the more easily you’ll attract customers who want to join forces with you.