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Secret Society Structure

If you combine the distance pole, the security pole and the uniqueness pole, teams develop a secret society structure. Such patterns are characterised by a conspiratorial environment, a shared way of communicating, often barey decipherable for outsiders – language, ‘secret codes’, rituals and rigid forms of joining and leaving. Usually, it is not so easy to enter and not so easy to leave again…

Organisations, which form such structures, are mostly specialist teams (software developers!) or teams with special assignments. However, informal teams (‘cliques, ‘Svengalis’, ‘alumni groups’) can also form such patterns, which often sustain for decades.

In such teams (absolute) loyalty is expected. Demands, which emerge from the team, have priority. Sacrificing yourself for the group is desired. Norms are rigid. Membership is a high, or highest priority for the team members. To be part of it is really everything and the highest honour.

If such teams slip into extreme manifestations, distance becomes a compulsion to submit (“Here, you don’t count for a thing if you don’t do what is expected of you!”), security becomes a straitjacket, which makes individuality impossible, and uniqueness leads to isolation from the rest of the world (“We are different from all the others!”).