Ah, I’m late this week. I’m so sorry. But stop crying. The column’s here now.
You see, I took a weekend trip to Telluride and didn’t get to chance to sit down and write this before Monday. That’s bad because I think I had so many good ideas for this column and they’re now lost to the netherworld.
You know what else was dumb? Picking Mari to win the game. I’m clearly not a bright person when it comes to picking winners. Maybe next year I’ll actually watch the videos before choosing a winner? But, you know what? It wouldn’t have mattered this season. Mari seemed like the perfect person to play Survivor. That should have told me not to pick her. But, again: I’m dumb.
But you know who wasn’t dumb this week? That would be Michelle. While that braid might not be the smartest thing, all of a sudden the bible translator looked like a seasoned Survivor pro. How good was she? She made Jay seem smart for a second. Nuff said.
Now it’s time to, as Jeff Probst would say, dig deep into some theory explaining this week’s episode.
And what an episode it turned out to be. This thing crammed just about everything you want from Survivor into one 60-minute sprint: showmances, medical emergencies, blindsides, idols and a lack of focus on Gen X’s bad tattoos. Everyone was a winner … except me and, oh yeah, Mari. And Hannah. Definitely not Hannah.
But how did the vote go from clearly Figgy to Mari in seemingly a matter of minutes? Well, let’s talk some organizational theory.
Tribes on Survivor often act like any organization would. And this makes complete sense. On a tribe, just like in an organization, there are leaders, large and small subgroups, chains of command, hierarchies, common language, etc. But it often takes a while for these characteristics to emerge and for good players to understand how to adapt their game to their place in the organization. At episode two, we’re still early for that adaptation process.
In his seminal book, Images of Organization, business professor Gareth Morgan provides a really strong summary of various types of organizations. I talked about this book back during the Second Chance season, but I discussed a different metaphor then. See, the genius of Morgan’s book is that he likens numerous types of organizations to common metaphors. So some organizations work as machines, some as brains, some as political systems, some as cultures, some as psychic prisons…. The list goes on and on.
What I think we saw this week was an organization as an organism. The basic idea behind this metaphor is that organizations continually evolve and grow or they die. And the key to Morgan’s theory about this type of organization is that it goes against a lot of prior research, work that showed most organizations work as machines and truly struggle to adapt.
So how did this play out this week? Well, the organization had a clear goal: Break up the showmance. Taylor and Figgy couldn’t even be smart enough to make out when nobody could hear them and now, as Michaela noted, they had a chance to take over the game. The organization began working as a machine: Get out Figgy.
As far as we’ve seen, Michelle didn’t act as a leader at Millennials camp. She shouldn’t have owned enough agency, or power, to change the vote. But as Morgan notes in his book, there are various species of organisms, and an organization adapts to these species. These types of organizations are what he calls “open systems.”
In a way, this is an apt description for Millennials: They’re self-interested and not tied down to any one thing. They’re fine maneuvering and changing things up to suit the situation. They often illustrate the organization as organism metaphor.
That happened here.
A different type of organism, Michelle subtly grabbed the reins of leadership for a split second, made people understand and accept her plan and then, kind of, cajoled the outliers into going along by making clear their mutual goals: to win. And that’s how good organizations as organisms work: Different people come together, all with differing individual goals, but with one clear organizational goal, which is, of course, success.
Michelle used her organization’s (or tribe’s) fluidity and ability to adapt to her advantage. Does anyone think something like this would work at camp Gen X? No way. They are much more like a machine, a tribe looking to eliminate any defective cog in said machine, any tribemate that doesn’t fall in line to Paul’s (seriously, Paul!) idea of a good tribemate.
That, my friends, is how differing types of organizations survive and, sometimes, thrive, working differently.
And with that, let’s get to my thoughts on each player. Needless to say, this week illustrated that predictions are not my forte, so don’t bet large sums of money on these predictions. Just send me the money instead. Oh, and let’s hope next week I’m more punctual with this here column.
Gen X — Takali
Millennials — Vanua
As the smartest man alive likes to say, sort of, with that, we’re on to episode 3. Here’s to hoping the good stuff keeps coming.
Pat Ferrucci started watching Survivor when episode two of Borneo first aired. He’s seen every episode since. Besides recapping here, he’ll be live-tweeting this season from the Mountain Time Zone. Why? Because nobody cares about the Mountain Time Zone except when they want to ski. Follow him @patferrucci for Survivor stuff and tweets about anything and everything that enters his feeble mind.