Today’s Globe and Mail ROB contains an interesting exchange with Henry Mintzberg from the Faculty of Management at McGill University on the importance of building community within organizations… and the perils of destroying it with short sighted incentives and interventions.
Professor Mintzberg calls attention to the imperative of building community - the sense of belonging and attachment that sustain individual connection and inspire deeper commitment. His concern is that many of the things done in organizational life directly undermine the collective sense of community, and ultimately the success of the organization.
While I don’t concur with all that Professor Mintzberg has to say, I think it is a timely debate. I strongly agree that the intangibles that come from sustaining a healthy sense of community are powerful and worthy of our time and attention - not just by leaders, but by all levels of the organization - though it is the leadership ranks that often create the conditions for community to thrive (or to rot).
The economic upheaval now underway may be global in nature, but the impact is felt and played out in local communities - none more keenly than the community within our places of work. How organizations respond now will have lasting effects.
For me, the article reinforces the need to fix our strategic gaze over the horizon, and not just on the immediate challenges. Organizations need to remember what makes them strong (in good times and bad) and nurture that - and caring for the community of people who come to work everyday is a great place to start. Mintzberg sites some simple, time-tested strategies for building community in today’s troubled waters. “Build the culture, respect people, listen to what they are doing…Get out of your office, find out what people are doing on the ground”. All things that are “common sense” but that are often first to go when the heat is on and results are under attack.
For the full article, please go to; Globe & Mail ROB, July 9, 2009