Rebuilding a community
Image by Krypto via Flickr
Every group goes through 5 stages of group formation:
Defining the Task
These stages do not always occur in the same order, and they often loop back on themselves, but the first 4 have to be completed for the community to enter the final stage: Interdependence.
1. Coming together
The first stage is the most difficult. Starting from nothing, we have to find enough people who share a common interest in the project to make it possible. When starting something new, there are few places to go to gather these people from.
This is why the first and the second stages form a symbiotic circle.
2. Defining the Task
As we discussed earlier, nothing brings people together like a shared dream. The group leader needs to start defining tasks for the group to accomplish. These tasks should be simple and doable.
The group cannot wait for members to rise up to accomplish these tasks. The leader as well as the others who have already signed up for the task need to start work. Nothing gathers a group like success.
Unrest is natural. I have had many people sign on the Project: Shadow Manifesto, start working with us, only to either become disillusioned by the magnitude of the tasks before us or get frustrated by my focus on what’s best for the community.
There is only one way to handle unrest when it inevitably comes. Listen to the criticism, do your best to answer it and choose the best course of action moving forward. If schism is inevitable, allow it to happen, but try to make appropriate compromises.
The well being of the community is more important than the ego of the leadership or existing group. Be ready to apologize or stand your ground, which ever is the most necessary.
Cohesion is a worthy goal. When the community sees the goal, and begins accomplish its goals, it will begin to move as a unit. Individuals will start to see tasks that are not on the agenda, and working on their own to achieve the community’s goals.
This is the most dangerous stage of group development. As new leaders emerge within the community, they will be tempted to set out on their own. If the group does not understand that it is only through working together that their goals can be accomplished, it will fall apart.
If the group survives this stage, then they will begin to rely on one another, and success is within the communities grasp. All they have to do it keep their eyes on the goal and values the group has established for itself, and keep moving forward.