March 14, 2008

News & Opinion: Megacommunity: Where Governments, Organizations and People Work Together to Take on Issues

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 4:15 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Four senior managers at Booz Allen Hamilton have a new book out this coming Tuesday (the 18th). Megacommunities is the book.
This book landed on my desk a few months back and I remember being attracted to the idea. We as business leaders, governments workers, and everyday citizens are faced with the daunting task of tackling a variety of issues -- environmental conversation, energy, community development, aging populations, and on and on. Each of us faces these issues to one degree or another. To a certain extent there is much we, as individuals or parts of larger entities, can do to play a part in taking on each issue. To help out with conserving the environment, we can, of course, use CFL light bulbs, insulate our buildings well, turn the heat and AC down/up a degree, use less (and recycled) paper, and drink less bottled water.
Our part is relatively easy to understand. At some point, there's only so much we can do and then the issue needs to be turned over to a higher level of power -- an entity that can affect a greater scope of people. Who or what is this entity? The government can't solve this on their own, nor can organizations.
The four authors say the answer is megacommunities: communities where each individuals, governments, and organizations work together to tackle today's issues. This book is built around helping leaders build and succeed in megacommunities. I've heard Booz Allen is using this book to brand their company.
Two places to learn more about megacommunities: (1) A video clip of Reggie Van Lee, one of the authors explaining where the idea came from and its implications; (2) A Megacommunity manifesto over at ChangeThis.
I'll leave you with this piece from the manifesto.
The root cause of the challenges confronting these leaders is complexity: the growing density of linkages among people, organizations, and issues all across the world.
Because people communicate so easily across national and organizational boundaries, the conventional managerial decision-making style--in which a boss exercises decision rights or delegates them to subordinates--is no longer adequate. Solutions require multi-organizational systems that are larger and more oriented to multilateral action than conventional cross-sector approaches are. In such systems, the most successful leaders are not those with the best technical solutions, the most compelling vision, or the most commanding and charismatic style. The “winners” are those who understand how to intervene and influence others in a larger system that they do not control. We call this type of larger system a "megacommunity."

About Dylan Schleicher

Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.