Does Your Tribe Have A Totem?

« We know what we are, but not what we may be. » W. Shakespeare.

Hugh !

Many people think that the Indian totems are religious artefacts, or that shamanism is a religion focused on the celebration of Nature and Animals like gods. I agree with that. But reality is a bit different. Totems, from the word of the Ojibwa language “odoodeman” which means family blazon, are the family trees or the symbols of the culture of the whole tribe. Represented animals, such as beavers, bears, wolves, whales, ravens, eagles, frogs or snakes, are used to visually affirm the belonging to a group; its identity and its values. Traditionally, they are used to tell the story of a group and to remember important events.

What is the relationship between Indians and Management ?

“Identities are crucial for purpose definition and value creation. A team, a business unit or company has only really achieved an identity when people are eager to associate themselves with its symbols. Management can take an active role inviting groups of workers to create symbols that represent their shared identities.” Jurgen Appelo.

Successful teams are teams with a great and shared culture and values. But I have no idea how we can celebrate teams. And if we build together a totem to share our values, to celebrate our successes and our failures, to remember remarkable events ?

We built our totem in five steps:

1- What makes us special ? What are our values ? A big list of values for Management 3.0 is available on Jurgen Appelo’s website (
2- What are the stories we want to remember ?
3- What pictures best symbolize our team ?
4- What are the works we want to expose ?
5- What are successes and failures we want to celebrate You can also use a celebration grid (

Using the previous questions, you can now draw, write or paste symbolic images on your totem.

Management 3.0

Fig 1: Totem Workshop

Once you have built your totem, imagine a « totem celebration » during which you can tell to all of your ecosystem who is your team !

Project yourself ten years later and imagine your coworkers still talking about your stories.

Finally, your team culture is great ! Now, you can create your own team logo.

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