Install Theme
Community is plural.

Robert Safian

Safian is the editor of Fast Company, and he’s trying to get at the notion that his community of readers is actually a multiplicity of communities:

Our audience is really a bunch of vibrant communities that don’t hew to the terms of traditional market segmentation. What matters is that they share something more sophisticated: a psychographic.

This is a concept I am developing as well, in the business context. As companies transition away from slow-and-tight organizations, based on collective long-term strategy and identity, the unitary community within a business shakes out into a multiplicity of overlapping communities. Some will still feel and act like the older, slow-and-tight organization, but many will become fast-and-loose, adopting the cooperative logic of ‘connectives’, shaped by the self-organizing dynamics of social networks rather than the imposed order of business process and ordained strategy.

These various communities within a single business pose a new challenge for leadership. In the past, creating a corporate culture meant indoctrinating people into a single collective, with explicit shared goals: especially a long-term and exclusive commitment to the company’s vision of the future and the company’s place in it. Today, in a time of radical change and ‘innovation vertigo’, wise leaders do not promulgate a single, official future, and in fact will encourage a variety of diverse ideas of what the future may bring. If only for that reason, we are confronted with the need to reject a single monolithic culture in any reasonably large business, and even in small ones that want to grow to become large.

The emergent properties of social networks — like knowledge creation, innovation, and sense making — may be the greatest leverage a company has, so allowing more communities within a single company will lead to higher levels of innovation and adaptation. Rather than a monolithic organization trained to operate as a single unit based on a single fixed set of rules, we are now confronted with an economic context where it’s more rational to have a spectrum of communities operating independently, inventing and rewriting their own rulebooks along the way.

And the self-awareness that this is going on in the business is the psychographic that these communities will share, so that this apparent disorder is understood as a source of strength, resiliency, and competitive advantage.

Blog comments powered by Disqus
  1. santagati reblogged this from stoweboyd
  2. cooldork7 reblogged this from stoweboyd
  3. readinglist32 reblogged this from emergentfutures
  4. tomasglobal reblogged this from emergentfutures
  5. trusttheshuffle reblogged this from emergentfutures
  6. josefrivera reblogged this from emergentfutures
  7. ohwellyouknowme reblogged this from emergentfutures
  8. emergentfutures reblogged this from stoweboyd
  9. stoweboyd posted this