Our Thinking


business as community

Now here’s a radical idea: running your business as a community.

I’ve worked within and alongside many organisations in the UK, USA, Asia and seen how they managed both their internal workings and external relationships in order to maximise the profit they earned.

Some have been wildly successful, some have been moderately successful. Some have been deplorable – both in how they performed and how they treated their people.  What is common though is the number of strongly performing businesses who paid attention to the relationship they have with their employees.

While researching this post, I came across this very well-written article by David Spinks from 2016.


The diagram at the top is his, not mine. But it illustrates both our points perfectly.  He has his own definition of a community in the article. Mine is different – a community is a systemised, managed social unit that ensures the prosperity of the whole through enabling the welfare of all who belong.

A community-driven business serves, and is sustained by, the whole

One of the characteristics of a Deliberately Developmental Organisation (DDO) is that it behaves more like a community than a commercially driven hierarchy. An aspect of this is that people contribute to daily business as their full selves, and not channelled and limited by job title, specialisation or seniority. Everyone devotes their energies to generating overall success, in any way they can. This flows through all interactions, in group situation and one-on-one. Tasks are carried out and problems resolved collectively. If one or more individuals have come up short, the approach is ‘what can we all learn from this?’ rather than shaming and intimidating them with threats of dismissal.

Such a culture enables honesty, transparency, open communication untainted by secondary agendas, and leads to far more authentic relationships through the company. Everybody is committed to their work as a process of development – of themselves, of the team and the organisation.  The outcomes are good for all – from shareholders to customers to the employees who display sustained high engagement thanks to the emotional intelligence of leaders who realised that a business that is run like a community is actually a better business.

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