Every business should look to the emerging field of community development for tools that will help to grow their corporate culture.

Every community should look to successful business examples of internal cultural development for the techniques that work to establish consensus.

Steps that work:

1 – Ask questions, don’t presume solutions.

Too often external consultants presume that they know what’s best for a group of people – in an organization, community, or corporate environment.  The first and best practice should always be to assess first, analyze later.

2 – The solutions are always within the group.

Group dynamics are the same wherever humans gather.  The process itself is the solution – too often people sit through ineffective meetings where the same things are regurgitated, the same people dominate the conversation, and the leaders don’t know how to lead.  I guarantee you that there is a solution to any problem within any group that has organized around a collective purpose.

3 – Never underestimate the importance of politics.

Human emotions and relationships are irrational.  All fields of study attempt to categorize irrational behavior into sequential and logical portions – that’s a large part of the human quest for knowledge.  We’re doing a great job.

There are always unknown relationships at play.  Step back, hold the big picture (the mission of the group), and know that the process will never go as fast as you would like it to go.  Don’t tell anyone else to do the same thing – when you encounter frustration (or other negative emotions), make time to listen and understand the layers under the surface.

4 – Find shared purpose, and hold on tight.

Why do people organize into communities?  Why do we decide to work for one business and not another?

The answers always come back to shared values. To effectively manage any group, you must constantly remind the participants of the benefits of their involvement.

Studs Terkel said something to the effect that communities form where there is shared action with purpose.  Whenever we get together to accomplish something, we have formed a community.

The largest question that remains:  What do we want to accomplish?