Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited
Community. The word used to mean the place where we lived. It included our neighbors and friends, the stores where we shopped, our schools, the parks where we played. It belonged in our personal world. Today, communities have become important in our business lives as well. The emergence of this phenomenon sent me back to a 1991 booklet by John W. Gardner. (Gardner has always been an idol of mine, and I find he has important things to say on any topic he addresses.) In Building Community he says, "Where community exists it confers upon its members identity, a sense of belonging, a measure of security… A community has the power to motivate its members to exceptional performance. It can set standards of expectation for the individual and provide the climate in which great things happen." Is it any wonder that business leaders are finding value in the concept?
As society has changed and the traditional social groupings have broken down, people have started to form new groupings – new communities at work, on the Internet, in professional organizations. In this issue of Strategy & Leadership, we explore the strategic importance of these communities. We have brought you some thoughts on how communities are formed, how they interact with each other, the role leadership plays in their success, and how their strategic value can be evaluated.
Arian Ward begins by defining communities as they currently exist in organizations and goes on to show how networks of these communities can bring added value.
Bill Halal takes a different approach and suggests that the concept of community offers a broader and more productive theory of the firm that better suits the business requirements of our new century.
Joe Cothrel discusses the metrics that organizations can use to assess the incremental value they have gained from their online communities, whether they be for customers (B2C), suppliers (B2B), or employees (E2E).
Jane Linder explores the role of an organization's leaders in successfully implementing major change and describes the value to be gained from establishing a community of decision makers to set strategic direction and guide implementation.
And don't miss Margaret Campbell's short article on the "dark side" of communities in the virtual world of telework.
John Gardner gives us ten important ingredients of a community: wholeness incorporating diversity; a reasonable base of shared values; caring, trust, and teamwork; effective internal communications; participation; affirmation; links beyond the community; development of young people; a forward view; and institutional arrangement for community maintenance. As we meet the challenges of our constantly changing world, we could not find a better guide for forming and nurturing our essential communities.