Volume 40, July 2004: Building Community

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

This is a monthly electronic magazine for anyone who wants to be a better leader, coach, facilitator, or simply, to tune up their people skills. It is a complimentary publication, devoted to the next evolution of Quality Thinking.

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2004 ISSN # 1545-8873

“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.” — Anthony J. D’Angelo

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

“A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.” — Henrik Ibsen

“I want to work for a company that contributes to and is part of the community. I want something not just to invest in. I want something to believe in.” — Anita Roddick


  • What’s Hot in Leadership
  • Maintaining Yourself as a Leader
  • Frequently Asked Questions from Leaders
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Useful Websites & Newsletters
  • Articles/Publications

What’s Hot in Leadership

  • Recognizing that your organization is a community, and enhancing that community.
  • Building on intrinsic motivation: Deep longings for community, meaning, dignity, and love in our organizational lives.
  • Seeing your system as a totality of interdependent parts, aligned for a common aim. Using systems technology to enhance community.
  • Giving back to the community of which you are a part.

Maintaining Yourself as a Leader

An organization is a collection of people in common pursuit. Increasingly, people come to work in search of more than a job; they crave meaning and a sense of belonging to something important. Peter Block says that organizations are the new cathedrals. Building community is about weaving relationships, nurturing growth, and caring. To engage your community, polish your skills in facilitating groups, listening, and communicating. Celebrate. Foster the exchange of resources among the citizens, there for a common purpose. You create the context and set the tempo, they fill in the music.

Frequently Asked Questions

“How do you create community?”
First, note that we are all “joiners.” Belonging to the inner group of any organization results in a sense of purpose, usefulness, and appreciation. Invite “belonging” from the beginning. Hiring, orientation, coaching, all oriented to the purpose and values of the organization. There is no manual on culture, but the new initiate can clearly see what behaviors are expected. Use ritual in their induction. Reinforce their place in the community, and elevate to others how their job role contributesto the whole. This says to all that there are no unimportant players. An exercise I have used to weave a culture together capitalizes on stories. I divide the organization into generations and invite them to share stories about their era. See: Story-Weaving.
“We are stuck in silos, guilds, castes, different geographies. How do I begin to break down these barriers and integrate the system?”
It is our organizational design and rigid chains of command that have put people in boxes and kept them there. Add to that, naming the boxes (teams), limiting cross-communication, urging them to turn a profit, make budget, meet goals, without regard for the other boxes. Keeping score by box titles. It is the perfect set-up for internal competition. You have a collective of small communities, with some rough roads between them. What if you began by defining the we as the entire community, in which all of us win or none of us? Using tools, such as shared vision, planning together, open meetings and dialogue, shared rewards and recognition, plentiful information, working in fluid partnerships – with freedom to combine, reconfigure, and disband as it makes sense. And keeping score as One.
“I have heard of organizations that give employees time off for community service. Is this advisable?”
It would be easier just to collect money, wouldn’t it? Anita Roddick, CEO of The Body Shop, feels she has the unprecedented opportunity to create a special place where community service is honored and celebrated as part of the workplace day. There, you can bring your heart to work with you. Employees take externships to places like Romanian orphanages. When they return with fire in their eyes, proclaiming “This is the real me,” you know they have connected to a noble purpose. She calls it “socially engaged spirituality.” Their trucks are billboards addressing war, poverty, and ignorance. Every shop undertakes its own community project, on company time. Their products are allied with causes. Employees can take a half-day a month for community action. Business, she believes, can and must be a force for social change. With this mission, she is building community and connecting her business to the larger world community.
“I am self-employed and work alone. Where do I find a community?”
You have to create your own. Join professional societies, create marketing action groups, find ways to network and learn with others. Many people are joining or hosting virtual communities. See our back issue on Evolving Workplaces: Telework.


Key Associates can help you integrate your organization via Visioning Conferences and build a Culture of Service.

A comprehensive site on systems thinking: Systems Thinking in Organizations.

Synergy and reintegration in the science of systems thinking: Systems Thinking Press.

Useful Websites & Newsletters

Open agenda conferences to build synergy: Open Agenda Conferences.

How about building community on-line? Online Community Toolkit.

Use open space technology to build community: Open Space.



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