So what is ’the Lotus community’?

Seth Godin makes some important distinctions:

An organization uses structure and resources and power to make things happen. Organizations hire people, issue policies, buy things, erect buildings, earn market share and get things done. Your company is probably an organization.

A movement has an emotional heart. A movement might use an organization, but it can replace systems and people if they disappear. Movements are more likely to cause widespread change, and they require leaders, not managers. The internet, it turns out, is a movement, and every time someone tries to own it, they fail.

A philosophy can survive things that might wipe out a movement and that would decimate an organization. A philosophy can skip a generation or two. It is often interpreted, and is more likely to break into autonomous groups, to morph and split and then reunite. Industrialism was a philosophy.

The trouble kicks in when you think you have one and you actually have the other.

I think these definitions are useful in all sorts of discussions.

However, I am really taken by Seth’s definition of a movement, particularly, the mentions of ‘an emotional heart’ and requiring ‘leaders, not managers’.  There is no doubt in my mind that this community fits that description.  Finally, I think that at times in the past, certain individuals have felt that IBM owns the community – this is not the case and does damage when it happens.

I hope that the movement will continue for many years to come, what ever we call it…

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!