How organizations work

How communities / organizations work

How communities / organizations work

Warning: I’ll be using community and organization as synonyms around here.

Let’s go through each component of this model:


We naturally start with people. After all, everything we do is for and with human beings. People need to get together, usually because of shared interests. Interests include monetary goals, but are in no way restricted to that. People need to have some skills to hand around together, especially if they are expecting long term relationships: let’s put them all together in a “collaboration skills” bag. It might start with a common tongue, outright goodwill for selected human beings, self expression, knowing how to give+obey orders, punctuality, etc.


Network is multifaceted these days. It used to be “We share the same space, so let’s get stuff done together“. But space itself has changed dramatically. It can be virtual, of course, but it can also very easily be world-embracing.

Networks are inevitably linked to space. Space can define the network (much like a tribe would define its grounds), and the network must be able to show some space of its own (office space or a web site, for instance). If you’ve got no space to show for it, you might not have a network just yet.

All the community members must be able to access and use the network. We actually need to spend some time agreeing on what we want the space to look like, and and what can be done in it. Some people might not spend a whole lot of time in the space, but they must be able to come for visits and feel able to get stuff done in it.


On the way between people and procedures, something will happen: people thinking and talking will start creating content. This content will live or die, depending on the resilience of its authors, relevance, and many other factors, but eventually content commonly accepted will become the dominating discourse: what everybody around here has to know, accept, and repeat. Human beings are of course quite apt at modifying discourse, so content should never really be expected to be too static.


Boys and girls need their tools. Tools are built by humans, of course, but can be quite rigid and limited and hard to modify or adjust. They are embedded in the network, and in many way define what the people and network do, and can’t do.¬† They are enablers, as well as outputs of, procedure design.


People getting together on a network will demand understanding how things work. This means establishing procedures. Some of them will define restraints for acceptable behaviours, while others will be directed at establishing just what can be done, and how things get done.

Procedures are human designs. Don’t let anybody convince you otherwise. They serve a purpose, which must be clear to all. Whenever the purpose of a procedure is unclear or forgotten, it is time to evaluate and ponder whether it is absolutely necessary.

Procedures take a little negotiation to settle in and become part of the organization’s life. People need to know they exist, agree to follow them, and must be easy enough to be carried out to ensure their use/survival.


Eventually, the organization comes down to getting tasks done. The purpose of a community is to get tasks done. Tasks  (which can be as ethereal as posting on a forum) are also a measure of achievement, and achievements are key to the survival of the network and the association of people that use it / are part of it: no achievements means the effective disintegration of the organization.


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  1. People in the organization 2.0 « Organization2.0 pingbacked on 9 years, 10 months ago


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