I am a big believer in the power of the community. The best organizations I know of, either attracted a vibrant community or they came out of one.
Once an organization rises from the embers of the community, it’s easy for it to lose track of where they came from.
Communities are the blood of any industry. They support, they police, and they serve as seeders for the industry. They also act as information highways, data veins, where all gossip, good and bad permeates the substrate. The community provides industry with capillarity. It allows its organizations, to reach far and wide. To achieve access to resources, they wouldn’t reach otherwise.
Taking care of the community is critical for the long-term survival of any organization in its midst.
But community is also a hungry child. It requires that we feed it and take care of it. The primary currency is the “quid-pro-quo,” and pure altruistic gestures get you a long way. Taking care of the community is critical for the long-term survival of any organization in its midst.
When organizations grow, new people get hired. People that, for good or bad, aren’t always part of the community. Some of them tune in with the vibes, others don’t and won’t.
As the hierarchy grows, the distance between the community link in the company and the community itself widens. The team starts delegating tasks to junior members. Juniors will ignore the warnings of the community and will shield themselves behind the transient brand power. They’ll lash out, strike back and, in their ignorance, cover themselves with the mantle of ego.
“We got here; we’re the reference brand, we deserve to be here, who are you to tell me what to do?”
Some years ago, Umberto Eco warned about the problems of forgetting our history. Some organizations, under the historic Alzheimer fog, will engage in extensive bridge-burning tactics.
“The problem that comes into play is that no culture (in the anthropological sense of the world, as a system of scientific and artistic ideas, myths, religions, values and everyday customs) can subsist and survive without a collective memory. Societies have always relied on memory in order to preserve their own identity, beginning with the old man who, seating under a tree, told stories about the exploits of his ancestors and the founding myth of the tribe. And when some act of censorship wipes out a section of a society’s memory, this society undergoes an identity crisis.”
The same people that disregard the warnings will be the first ones in line for the torch. What do they have to lose? They have no ties to the rebels, to the outsiders. They’re the newcomers; they’re the power extension of the brand. Everything is justified, everything will be absolved if they meet their short-term goals.
It’s good to remember, though, that, scorching your lifelines is never wise, or desirable. History has the nasty habit of catching up, and the runway doesn’t extend until infinity.
Connections will falter; signals will be ignored, and the organization’s overreaching capacity will stumble and fail.
There will be a point in which, Saturn, hurt, damaged and afraid, will turn on his children and devour them. The community will spread the word. Connections will falter; signals will be ignored, and the organization’s overreaching capacity will stumble and fail.
Ego, ignorance, and lack of perspective will spread, like toxic venom and kill any access to the community. The organization will survive but will become irrevocably maimed. An echo of its prior existence.
Always keep in mind who made your success possible, because despite what we all think, we didn’t do it alone and we won’t succeed on our own. Today, more than ever, community support is the difference that will make any organization survive.
If I have seen further it is by standing on the sholders [sic] of Giants.
— Isaac Newton, February 15, 1676
Keep yours, nurture it; take care of it and let it’s most important values seep into your own or you will be, like Sisyphus, doomed to roll the boulder of your ego, over and over and over and.