Pattern: Communicate Through Tribes

Create groups of people who have similar skills but are on different teams to cross-pollinate ideas across the company and provide valuable whole-organization perspective

Communicate Through Tribes

A company is moving from a hierarchical Waterfall approach to the quickly evolving and complex world of cloud native. In traditional organizations, decision making and knowledge sharing are done according to hierarchy, and managers or lead architects are responsible for knowing everything about their assigned projects. In cloud native,however, engineers are given ownership over microservices and need to make decisions quickly and independently. Delivery processes are being fully automated.

In This Context

In a changing cloud native world, with ownership for application services divided across teams, managers don’t know enough to provide effective advice, much less make good decisions. At the same time, managers have the illusion of knowledge and control—they don’t know what they don’t know—so the team’s abilities and effectiveness are only as great as its manager’s capability.


Create domain-specific tribes that operate outside of normal management hierarchy.Use tribes to share specific technical and organizational info and to provide perspective and advice for complex decision making.


The company has groups that cross-cut traditional organizational units. This helps those people who are closest to and most knowledgeable in a particular domain subject identify areas for running experiments and making changes.