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l. to r., Dr. John Krebs, Jim Tusing, Kathy T using

l. to r., Dr. John Krebs, Jim Tusing, Kathy Tusing


A group of people with a unifying purpose and a recognized leader, a devotion to helping the group, a common dialect and a set of unwritten rules.

An Illustrative Case Study: Key Characteristics and Values of Bill Hand’s Business Tribe

Have fun and meet some Elm Grove Walnut Road neighbors — all clients of PC Assistants. Discover how this happy group of retired professionals exemplifies a “business tribe.” In the evidence provided, you’ll be amazed to find that this group’s computer experiences and appreciation for Bill sound very much like yours. Which must mean you’re part of the tribe, too!

For this summer study conducted on a lovely backyard patio, three people in a sub-segment of Bill’s tribe were interviewed: Jim and Kathy Tusing and Dr. John Krebs. Others in this group are Mary — Dr. Krebs’ wife — Bill and Sue Graushar and Rich and Linda Terlau (much as they wanted to be a part of the study, they had prior obligations).

They’re all Bill’s clients and they’re all neighbors, living either on Walnut Road in Elm Grove or a block away.

Common Goal
Enjoy their computers with as little frustration as possible.

Collective Data

Jim and Kathy Tusing
Their exposure to computers was early and, apparently, their trepidation with technology is low. John Krebs calls them “gadget geeks.”

Jim retired as PPG’s Oak Creek Plant Manager where everything was computerized. Currently, Jim uses a desktop and one of the things he likes about technology is the speed of online banking. Kathy, a teacher, started using a computer for word processing. (She remembers students making Christmas wreaths out of Fortran cards.) Kathy now uses and enjoys an iPad, but adds, “I’m too old to be paperless.”

Kathy suggests that “social media” is a misnomer and that it keeps people “in touch but out of touch.”

And as much as they keep current with technology and consider themselves “on the train,” Kathy says that, at some point, they’ll just “stay in the station.” It’s hard keeping up with the speed of growing and changing technology.

Jim and Kathy don’t usually go to the online store to browse for apps. Instead, they generally learn about the latest and greatest thru word-of-mouth. They might also discover something through sources such as the Wall Street Journal.

John and Mary Krebs
Thru a friend of Kathy’s, the Tusings were referred to Bill Hand. They, in turn, did the same for John and Mary Krebs.

John, a dentist, was introduced to computers by his businessman from a professional management firm. Upon retiring, John got his first computer. He now has a desktop. John thinks the devices are great, but has little desire to do more on them than what he’s already doing. The tactile world is still very important to him.

When it comes to computer etiquette, John shared this anecdote: he and Mary have their kids and grandkids, when visiting, place their cell phones in the middle of the dinner table. No using them ‘til the meal is finished. He remembers years ago travelling by car with antsy, noisy kids. That’s much different than today when, for example, he takes his grandchildren back to school in Madison. With their mobile devices, he “doesn’t get one word out of them.”

A pet peeve of his usually occurs in the morning at his favorite coffee shop. While reading the paper and people watching, he observes individuals still chatting on their phone while the barista waits to take their orders. (This could make an interesting quantitative study — how many of our population also find such behavior irritating. Most, wouldn’t you say?)

Tribal Knowledge
BusinessDictionary.com states that tribal knowledge is a set of unwritten rules or information known by a group of individuals, but not common to others, that often contributes significantly to overall quality. All the study participants (unlike the general public) indicated they know exactly whom to call when computer problems arise — Bill Hand.

The best evidence of this comes from John. “I have a short fuse. When I have something that’s broken down, I’m not a happy person. With my computers, I just drop it [the problem] and call Bill. He is patient, coolheaded and you know his wheels are spinning.”

Whenever people ask for a computer consultant referral, Bill’s tribe will give them his name and phone number, thus providing opportunities to improve the computer experiences of others.

Common Dialect
Windows 10, Apple, passwords, printers, Carbonite, usernames — the participants showed extensive familiarity with these terms. While it could be assumed that “x!@#$%” is part of the lexicon of most computer owners’ jargon, no evidence of such language commonality could be detected in this group. Perhaps because they know they can always rely on Bill and there’s no need to get frustrated?

Tribe Leader
A leader has confidence, skill, a vision, and is adept in empowering the tribe and gaining its loyalty. In listening to this study’s participants, it’s clear that Bill Hand is their leader. Here is a sampling:

“We have no problems in trusting Bill.”
“He’s a neat guy. He even makes house calls at night.”
“One of the first times he came, he spent one hour on the computer and said, ‘I’m not going to charge you for that.’ Bill is very ethical.”

Observations and Conclusions
A core group of Bill Hand’s followers exhibit the characteristics of a business tribe: individuals are connected by a common interest and goal; have shared attributes; show a deep affiliation for their recognized leader; enjoy the company of other tribe members.

Beyond Results

I. While Bill Hand considers himself more of a “medicine man” than a “leader” for his tribe, he will review the evidence again and reconsider his own conclusion.

II. It has been suggested that the tribe be given a name. To suggest one, e-mail Bill. (For ideas, see: Name Your Tribe and Tribe Name Generator.)

Appendix 1:  John gives very high marks to the Apple Store at Mayfair Mall. “They are on top of things. There are no long waits. I’ve had a great experience with them. It’s a well-run organization.”

Appendix 2: Kathy and Jim very much enjoy reading the news aggregator theSkimm.com.