Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Communities lower the cost of action

The final death rattles of Friendster made me pause to think about communities for a moment. Not that I need much encouragement...

I start from the real world of physical groups.

One I belonged to found its numbers dwindling. That reduced the ability of members to act as freeriders. Almost everyone had to have a role, a responsibility.
The group got to the point of needing a new Treasurer. No one stepped forward.

The group was reminded that without a Treasurer they could not continue. After a long discussion in the bar, a Treasurer emerged. The group survived.

What made a freerider take responsibility? The group had a purpose - a set of shared goals which every member signed up to - both figuratively and emotionally.

Friends come together often inspite of their differences. But friends are rarely units of organisation - often because of their differences. What's the common goal you selected your friends to help you achieve? Thought not...

Let's imagine I want to organise a coach trip to Leeds United's next home game. I'll struggle among my friends. Among a community of Leeds United fans it'll be a breeze.

The web lowers the cost of group forming. But the important bit is that these aren't any old groups. These are groups of people with shared purposes: Communities.

And communities lower the cost of getting things done.

Friends share much. They inspire each other, encourage one another. But those among them who genuinely share your passion and desire to achieve x are in limited supply - limited by time and geography.

Communities of purpose - no matter how adhoc - gather to achieve x. It's not a by product of their relationship, it is the cause of it.

The ties of adhoc community may not be as strong or long lasting as friendship but they will prove more effective in delivering change.

The web lowers the cost of forming communities and communities lower the cost of getting things done.

Applying this reality is what the job of any government, organisation or business is. How is yours doing?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone so I may have to tidy it up later ;-)

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?