Case Study of a Community @Work

1n 2002 at the World Bank I worked with President James Wolfensohn. My task was to build internal communities that would help him accomplish strategic objectives and improve communications.
The World Bank’s mission is to alleviate poverty. Wolfensohn spoke forcefully about the need to create partnerships with the poor to accomplish this.  However, I observed that this initiative seemed to lack the traction it deserved inside the organization.
I began to assemble a group to help him address the issue. I didn’t have far to look. In the front window of the World Bank bookstore was the book, Voices of the Poor[1]. I contacted one of the editors and within a few weeks we had arranged a coffee between Wolfensohn and twenty staff members who had been studying the complex topic of working in partnership with the poor.
The first get together was abuzz with conversation and ideas. There were a series of further coffees followed by papers and soon Wolfensohn was incorporating ideas from this group in his conversations with heads of state. At the same time, news of the collaboration was spreading among those staff concerned with the issue, pulling more in to help.
This community only lasted a few short months, but the work it did was significant. Let’s take a look at the business benefits, community concerns and participant payoffs that made this group a success.
Business Benefits:
·     Strategy development on core objective: Empowering the Poor
·     Improved internal communications
Community Concerns:
·     Championing the cause of Empowering the Poor
·     Group recognition for those working on this topic
Personal Payoffs:
·     Receiving recognition for professional contribution
·     Achieving proximity to power, audience with the president
·     Using professional expertise to make a difference in the world

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