Start a conversation

What is the difference between a community and a bureaucracy?

21st Century Organisations, as ecosystems, function far more like communities than they do companies (as we know them). Large companies increasingly talk about the need to model themselves on communities as they search for alternative organisational models to the authoritarian, corporate norm. However, communities require a very different mindset to bureaucracies so, if we are to build them, we must understand how they differ.



We partner with one another in the name of a cause: we serve everyone.
We work in the service of another (a boss): we primarily serve them.
Effort is voluntarily given: we have a right to say no.
Effort is demanded: if we say no, we likely suffer consequences.
We are guided by values, cultural norms and peer-to-peer accountability.
We are guided by rules, processes and hierarchical accountability.
We are intrinsically motivated, usually because it presents an opportunity to make a difference, or a space to exercise our personal giftings.
We must be extrinsically rewarded - normally by money - because there is less (or insufficient) reward in the work itself.
The work fits around us: we take on projects that fit around our personal giftings and passions.
We fit around the work: we take on projects that we are instructed to and are often asked to take on work that doesn’t suit us.
Relationships are more covenantal: I give to you without condition or expectation of something in return.
Relationships are more contractual: I give to you on the condition of things in return.
We are outwardly focused with a mindset that looks for opportunities and positive options.
We are inwardly looking with a mindset that looks for problems to solve and negatives to iron out.
We are relentlessly generous and merciful.
We operate from a place of scarcity and judgement.
We feel our humanity and who we are is enough to make the difference.
We feel we must change and learn new skills in order to be of value.
We believe success relies on a culture that seeks to serve and sacrifice for one another.
We believe success relies on a culture where everyone’s self-interest must be maximised.

“We are a community of possibilities, not a community of problems. Community exists for the sake of belonging and takes its identity from the gifts, generosity, and accountability of its citizens. It is not defined by its fears, its isolation, or its penchant for retribution. We currently have all the capacity, expertise, programs, leaders, regulations, and wealth required to end unnecessary suffering and create an alternative future.”

Peter Block

Choose files or drag and drop files
Was this article helpful?
  1. Cassa Grant

  2. Posted
  3. Updated