Communities As Democratic Entities

“Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people”- Abraham Lincoln

Thinking of COPs as democratic entities makes me wonder if “COPs are entities of the members,by the members and for the members“. This is certainly not the complete story. But is this what communities need to be? Only then do the benefits that emerge tend to bubble upward from the individual and team levels to the organization as a whole.It is definitely risky to push this comparison too far as this may lead to “group think”,cult ideology,knowledge silos etc.,
However, this has helped me convey the organic nature of communities to executives. This helps them understand fundamental differences between teams and communities. Almost always, the value creation and flow within a community starts at the individual level and moves upward. This is not always the case with teams where organizational benefits are primary and most of the individual benefits are side effects of this effort. Executives need to “cross the rubicon” to understand the dynamics of this new paradigm. Communities do not emerge because they “have to” but because they “choose to” (unlike a team) and this in turn sets the stage for a potential mismatch of expectations between the members of a community and executives who set out to align community objectives to organizational goals.
Any attempt to institutionalize communities needs to begin with the “community member” in mind and see how the benefits that occur at the individual and comunity levels can be leveraged at the organizational level rather than begin with organizational goals in mind and trample and tweak the functioning of a community to achieve those.Bottomline is, communities do not exist because an organization wants it to but because the community members feel the need .


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