Communities And StructurePosted: August 26, 2008
I had written about whether communities can cope … some thoughts about a post by Rachel Happe … Rachel has written some of her thoughts here. It seems i got the central point of her post wrong … though i do agree with her, something which i havent really read too much about, but have been thinking about for some time.
While i agree with Rachel’s central point about the tension between structure, as described by the corporate hierarchy, and the self-forming, self-regulating nature of communities, i also believe that there is some sort of common ground between the two paradigms … agreed that successive generations have been looking for it, as Rachel points out in the example of the Church, but having said that, we need to keep in mind that most of the work in organizations doesnt bring out the passions that religion does. As such, there are basic differences between the way we need to communities within the organization, and without.
Since i can afford to look at communities within the limited context of the organization, and that makes it easier to treat them, since there is a particular context you are looking at them in, i would tend to do that. And in the organizational context, the organization, through shared goals is the ideal medium for discovering this common ground. Definitely, this common ground would keep on shifting from tie to time, and as such, communities would either need to be realigned, or recreated altogether. Matter of fact, we are yet to see this tension between the structure on the one hand, and the free-spirited communities on the other … for the simple reason, that within the organizational context, communities tend to be not as free-spirited, and not as self-regulating as they are in the more generic context. This is of course not true for all organizations, but this has been my exerience with the organizations i have interacted with.
And this is the aspect of communities which i refer to when i talk about the paradox of communities … that while communities are self-forming, and self-sustaining, they are nevertheless looking at the organization for poviding the context for their functioning. Without a well-defined context, they are definitely going to be rudderless, and are going to lose direction. What this however means is that given the context to operate upon, communities can actually keep their direction. This is not to say that they would be laser-focused, or anything like that … they are definitely going to meander, that being human nature, but having said that, on the whole, communities can be taking direction from the organizational context.