Monday, August 25, 2008

Communities Going Forward ...

I came across this wonderful post by Rachel Happe, thinking Can Communities Cope? ... interesting what Rachel has written in this ... why i say this is because this sort of encapsulates what i have been thinking about for some time now, without being able to articulate it.

Rachel has it right that communities have lifecycles ... lets face it, human civilizations have lifecycles (although we do feel a sense of permanence, but this is only because we are experiencing only a small slice of this lifecycle, and hence, this seems to be permanent, much like a sufficiently small slice of a circle would look like a straight line), so it would be only normal to assume that communities would, too. And this is where the organization must step in ... first of all, the organization needs to realize the value that communities can bring, and once this can be experienced (maybe not directly demonstrated, but experienced, either through participation, or anecdotally), the organization must put in the effort to rejuvenate communities when they seem to be flagging. And, this, to my mind, is the paradox of communities ... supposedly self-forming and self-sustaining, they nevertheless need the organizational push, because this is what provides them the context for their existence, at least within the organizational perspective.

Of  course, this is also having an impact on the structure of the organization. Though, it would be naive to assume that structure would go away ... something i have written about before here, and here. It would, however, be naive to assume the end of the organization (not that i have come across anybody doing that), though change is definitely happening.


Rachel Happe said...

Hi Atul -

Thanks for linking to my blog post on communities. And while, whether communities can cope is an interesting point was more around whether communities are good structures for pursuing focused goals...they tend to get off topic a lot. However, communities are phenomenally good at developing new ideas and approaches. So the real question is - how do you take the benefits of corporate hierarchy (focus) and meld that with the benefits of communities (new ideas, distributed responsibility)? It necessarily leads to a healthy tension but that tension can quickly turn destructive.

Organizations have been grappling with this issue for thousands of years (look at church/religious history for example) but this issue is a new own for profit-driven organizations.

Very interesting issue however and it gets at the core of how companies should be thinking about communities.

Cheers -


Atul said...

Quite agree, Rachel. Having said that, though, given the kind of context an organization can provide here, we need to look at how we can leverage this.