I just wrote this message to a list-colleage… and it seems right to share it :-).
To give some perspective, she calls «community» the group of people you aim and want to help; and she calls «organization» the team that run the helping: in emekaeme parlance, the «management of the resource». Also, the changes that will be mentioned where not wrought out of thin air but after long consultation with many members of the «community» and the «organization».
those ideas of yours about serving the community and not the organization have got me into a deal of work :-D. A couple of days ago I finally broke up a dysfunctional (but cosy) forum and a self-centered team, and stirred a beautiful hornet’s nest. Let go five moderators, broke the hold of some «friends» on the running of forum, and implemented long-deferred reforms.
The scale of the emotional flak we (the rest of the team and myself) are taking from the displaced group is unbelievable. And you have to understand that they were, in fact, doing good by many people. But also keeping the organization from helping many more, and (worse) steering it away from helping the community it was founded to support.
In other words: the reason organizations become self-centered is (I think) mostly inertia, and the fear to face entrenched interests within its own flesh… and their immediate friends in the wider community. Not because it’s hard to see the need, but because the emotional conflict makes it too hard to do. And (not least) the problematic people are often part of the decision-making, blocking it.
In our own old team, one people is irredeemable, one is scarred (both now out), three who had long become inactive are also out. We’ve been lucky enough to make the trouble-makers speak their minds, thus swaying many doubters in favour of the need to change, and thus many more moderators (friends of those that are leaving) have stuck with us and learned a lesson.
We have earned a lot of enemies :-), and have a PR fight on our hands. But the community is -as users agree- much better served with the new setup, and free from the yoke of a few. Some who had left because of that dominance are alredy returning.
Just thought I’d tell you ;-). That community is as prosaic as Spanish-speaking, Mac using photographers. One of those served by the Macuarium CoP system.»
Someone should write about the anguish of teams when these things happen. It’s impressive, and hard to bear. It makes one wonder if it’s worth the trouble.
And that’s what often keeps the change from happening, and the organization from making the hard choices that enable it to serve the community. Or at least, that’s one of the reasons.