Institution or association? A basic choice for community efforts

A basic choice
for the organization of community efforts

Institution--Strategic Association--Responsive
Board of Directors hires an Executive Director Ad hoc committee hires a facilitator
leadership is mostly top down leadership is bottom up
centered on programs and tasks; the people part is usually an abstraction people-centered, focuses first on relationships and actual people
tends to become needs- or deficiency-based, and focused on control structure and operation guarantees that it is asset-based, with a focus on empowerment
tends to become funding-driven outcome-driven
programs become entangled in competition and turf issues; community outcomes of the programs depend on politics programs arise from cooperation and the desire to add value to existing initiatives; community outcomes depend on capabilities and passion of the proponents and how well they are connected with other community assets
diversity of opinions is a liability, and interferes with the effectiveness of the organization diversity is an asset, as it enables the full range of community assets and resources to come into play, not just the politically correct ones
tends to be expensive in relation to community outcomes; may be hard to sustain tends to be cheap in relation to community outcomes; may be easier to sustain if funders understand this
difficult and stressful job fun, results in personal growth, easier for volunteers to be engaged
tends to give people the idea that their problems will be solved for them; transforms community into spectators taking bets on your performance does not give people any excuse for thinking that their problems will be solved for them; motivated community members become participants
director becomes so busy that he/she doesn't have time to help actual people facilitator's only job is to help actual people who are serious about doing something
little training is required for basic operation of this model; but there is a multibillion training and consulting industry devoted to trying to increase the effectiveness of this model initial training may be required in order to change unconscious organizational habits and behaviors, and LET GO of the ones that won't work, so as to succeed with this model
framed or focused on managing AGAINST what people do not want, problem-solving framed and focused on managing FOR what people want and need
directed at MAKING things happen framed and focused on LETTING things happen, driven by self-motivated participants
the default approach for those who do not believe in people requires a strong belief in the capacity, creativity, and responsibility of people in your community

See also a summary of the asset-based approach, John McKnight's Regenerating Community essay on cpn.org, and the Enterprise Facilitation page.

Robin Chase, founder of Zipcar, has written a provocative book, Peers Incorporated, that explains the dynamics around collaborative platforms and the organization that support them, in particular Chapter 6.