This is my non-scientific classification of forms of ‘collective action’ (association and collaboration for a purpose, in general) and how they have their equivalents inside the organization:
- Talking show. The collective is composed by people talking to each other with little impact on the world. Consultants talk to consultants, HR to HR, IT to IT. The tribe talks to its tribe members. Talking is rewarding, and cheap. Action is not a requirement.
- Protest group. The glue is about what to be against. Some internal (to the organization) tribes work in this way.
- Pressure group. It’s about alliances to achieve a goal, which could be anything from simply getting airtime – being heard, to changing something very strategically.
- Political party. We know what it is. The nearest equivalent in the organization is an alliance that tries hard to position specific people at the top.
- Platform. A set of rules and capabilities that is always ready for any goal, any change, any transformation. The Viral Change Mobilizing Platform is one example.
- A Think Tank. It produces views and positions (papers) based upon research or any form of evidence based logic. It produces recommendations but does not implement them.
- A club. Well, this is sociability in action. Business or pleasure?
- A social movement. A carefully planned, resourced and long term journey towards ‘a cause’. Culture shaping is a social movement.
There may be others, indeed. But the point is, each of them have different rules of the game, different players and different capabilities. Trouble is when:
You think you lead a social movement but you behave as a protest group
You think you are a pressure group (pick and alternative label) but you behave as a club or a talking show.
You are indeed a talking show but pretend you are a think tank
It’s not what you are as much as what you think you are and others think you are.
Decide the box, act accordingly.
Example: protest groups don’t change the world, social movements do.