Janet Walkow Christine Jacobs

Modern Communities


It has taken me a while to understand online communities and online communications beyond email.  I think of communities as being people and organizations that physically come together.  My thinking is finally advancing into the current century.

The evolution

We are basically a tribal species.  We have solitary thoughts but bring ourselves together in communities—both physical and virtual.  We create social networks for ourselves for gaining knowledge but also for finding like minded people.  There is an excitement from learning together and from each other.  There is comfort from supporting each other and knowing we are not alone.  In times of crisis, we forget our differences and come together in our communities.

Organizations used to be thought of as power structures with fixed pyramid shapes and all communications flowing from the top. Whether they always worked like this is debatable but leaders acted like they did. In the 1990’s, systems thinking was advanced as the concept of how organizations really work.  The concept of Learning Organizations with interlocking networks of communication and trust was advanced by business anthropologists. Leaders became teachers who helped the organization gain trust, shared vision and common purpose, in addition to providing resources.

I have longed believed this and used in as part of my leadership mantra.  But it was not always appreciated by the powers that be in traditional organizations.


Peter Senge was a thought leader on the building of new communities of thought and action in his ground breaking 1990 book The Fifth Discipline.  He talked about old thinking of the separation of work and family and the separation of work and personal interest.  New organizations acknowledge that we are each unique individuals who are whole people.  We are the integration of all of our worlds and our thoughts.  We cannot be separated.


All of this brings me back to the thought of modern communities.  I have not been an early adopter of new technology.  I could not understand why someone who cared about my business thoughts or political ideas would care about my personal life.  I had thought about my physical organizations as being integrated but neglected to realize that on line and virtual organizations should be just as integrated.

New thinking for me.  This old dog is learning new tricks.

Christine Jacobs is an experienced corporate executive and a co-founder of Leading Women. Read her full bio.

Leave a Reply

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.