What can a Cherokee Indian Teach you About Management?

The Cherokee Indians of North America have long believed that success relies on three things:

  • Purpose: clarity over the task you want to complete and the tenacity to stick with it.
  • Ability: the skills and methods to allow you to complete that task.
  • Integrity: a task that lines up with your own beliefs and values, and of those who support you.

If you have those three, so ancient wisdom goes, you can achieve anything you wish.

There is nothing new under the sun

Management is all about creating success, we search out anything that will help us achieve, chasing down new ideas, rolling out initiative after initiative, new ways of managing, motivating and incentivising our staff, urging them on.

But we rarely leave anything alone long enough for it to stand a chance of working.

Human nature is human nature; we haven’t changed much in the past thousand years.

So what worked for the Cherokee would more than probably work now.

If you gave it a chance.

Unfortunately, if you stick with what works, you won’t be rewarded for that next big thing.

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Different name

Read another opinion

Image by AntonGros


  1. Hello James
    In this instance you have outdone yourself with the Dilbert cartoon – it says it all!
    Thanks for the Cherokee wisdom – never come across it and it occurs as interesting.


    • Hi James.

      I’m with Maz. Love that cartoon… it says it all.

      There has been a lot written recently on the evolution of CSat, VoC, EFM, CEM, etc. as well, i.e., a similar story of just changing the acronym – but really referring to the same thing. I suppose if it gets people reinvigorated or excited about it, it should be a good thing, right?


      • James Lawther says:

        Thanks for your comment Annette, I think the problem with the next big thing is that we don’t let the last big thing do any real damage. Consequently we just hop from one thing to another without making any fundamental change to our business.


  2. Laughing… You are right, James! When I was at TBC Communications, we read Dilbert to see what TBC was going to do next.

    It is nice to have a theory or an approach that can be used to help people know what they are supposed to do. That said, it seems to me that the problem with theory or any approach – whether it is LEAN, Six Sigma, Pareto Principle, 5 Whys, or something else – is that it doesn’t implement itself.

    Often, in the quest to implement the latest and greatest theory, companies throw out the things they – or individuals within the company – are doing that are working and tell everyone to do something in a different way.

    Any traction that an approach has already got from it working for one person and starting to be adopted by others, is thrown out.

  3. James Lawther says:

    Glad you liked it Maz, it tickled me

  4. Hi James –

    Another feather in your bonnet of well written articles.

    Thanks and take care…Jeff

  5. Hi James,
    Thanks for sharing the Cherokee method. I think they and other tribes did something else that I particularly like and that is they understood that they existed in a system. A system that they had to pay heed to if they were to achieve what they wanted and harmony with the system.

    I’m not sure we often remember this lesson form the past.


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