David Wilcox writes from London this week about how nonprofits, associations and trade unions are surrendering ground to social networking websites. Reminds me of online citizen journalism taking a bite out of newspapers. Wilcox:
It used to be that you joined associations because it was a way of meeting like-minded people and getting help, facilities, information and other things difficult or costly to organise for yourself. These days it is much easier to find people and resources online, and to mix and match these assets into project teams, communities of practice, and informal networks.
The connections that ICT facilitates suggest that some organisations may increasingly be bypassed and that power may shift away from top-down hierarchical organisations and towards more fluid and participative networks where there is less need for a centralised ‘bricks and mortar’ coordinating organisation.
I think the problem is leadership. The reality is that leaders of VCOs and NGOs aren’t equipped to lead in the 21st century’s networked economy. And this isn’t their fault, but they need to accept help from people who can create the conditions that enable leaders to emerge, and then step aside. This isn’t their time now.
Just before he died, Peter Drucker said at Davos in Switzerland, “community-building talent is the single most precious resource in the modern world.” Let me briefly explain why.
Online community service poviders like Ezboard and CommunityZero, and Bebo and MySpace, to a certain extent have created leaders who in some cases, have literally started movements, with huge numbers of supporters and advocates. EzBoard has over half a million discrete ‘clubs’, each with a leader, covering a vast array of subject matter. These leaders often deliver an experience that enriches people’s social and professional lives. More so than the associations and unions that are supposed to serve them. These are our leaders of the future.