Cults: the Epitome of Collaboration?

Posted on by Brandon Klein

By definition, cults are usually centered around one person- often one guy or one religion. Obviously, this isn't collaboration. But somehow, out of this virtual dictatorship, endless collaboration can be found and learned from.


A distinctly powered boss continually drives anti-collaborative practices.


A cult provides a perfect containment vessel. "A containment vessel is the concrete shielding around a nuclear reactor or chemical reaction. It allows huge pressures to build up on the interior, as it reflects the energy of the reaction back in on itself. 

The vessel or environment can be seen in use in many crazy cult examples. For example: "Followers of the Heaven's Gate cult, led primarily by Marshall Applewhite, thought Earth and everything on it were about to be "recycled" to a clean slate, and believed hitching a ride on comet Hale-Bopp in March 1997 could allow them to survive. Thirty-nine members (including Applewhite) poisoned themselves in shifts in a California mansion wearing Nike's sneakers and armbands that read "Heaven's Gate Away Team."

On the lighter side, the Cult of Apple has their worshipping grounds at the glass cube headquarters in New York City or One Infinite Loop in Cupertino, California.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have winners of the Medal of Honor the Distinguished Flying Cross. Although they don't have one central place of 'worship' they do display their emblem on their front door and communicate and/or meet regularly.

+ Create a containment vessel cult of collaboration at your office. Make it a safe place for people to communicate. Make it a hassle free place to work. Make it a fun place to work. Make it a pressure cooker! Make the rewards interpersonal and friendly, not lists and tasks and deadlines. You are working towards a higher cause; a more collaborative working environment!

+ Make the new vessel or work area a contagious place to work. Fans of cults flock to everything that happens in 'their organization.' Make it so.

+ Make it hard to leave your collaborative cult. Make the rewards so great, no one wants to leave. No, don't deride someone if they do, but you are a team working towards a common, shared goal.

+ Make membership exclusive. You don't want 'fly-by executives' to drop by and change your work. Set the qualifications early and make them stick. If someone joins your team, they must agree to your objectives.

+ There are big and small cults. That is ok. Both are useful.