Monday, September 21, 2009

Companies as Communities

Professor Henry Mintzberg has an interesting article in the HBR of July-August 2009 titled: 'Rebuilding Companies as Communities'. (Isn't it too bad these articles are readable by all, even non-subscribers?)

Reading this article brought back memories of Etienne Wenger's book, 'Communities of Practice'. That book was a big eye-opener to me, introducing me to 'social worlds theory', companies staring as communities, communities that just exist (and can't be formed) in communities, etc.

To Mintzberg Community means:

... caring about our work, our colleagues, and our place in the world, geographic and otherwise, and in turn being inspired by this caring.

He proposes a new word: "Communityship" to underline the importance of on the one hand individual leadership and on the other side collective citizenship. Communityship should make...

... use of leadership, but not the egocentric, 'heroic' kind that has become so prevalent in the business world.

This relates well to Jim Collins' "level 5 leaders" in Good to great and Greenleaf's "servant leadership". Mintzberg calls it "just enough leadership".

How to start? Start with the remnants of community in your company. And promote trust. (I'll write about other interesting HBR articles about trust and candor soon!) People must also know what the place is about (strong culture). And leadership at the center. Leaders should rather reach out, than down. (Mintzberg relates to the CoachingOurselves initiative that looks very interesting. Hadn't heard of it before!)

Great article and very inspiring, I thought!

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