What Do You Care About….!? #45 #cong19


Communities are great, and I love them usually, but sometimes we need to leave them in order to do what needs to be done.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. We all love a good community
  2. It’s not easy to leave
  3. Leaving one can be exhilarating
  4. Know what it cares about can drive a community

About Paddy Delaney:

I am a reformed Financial Advisor! Now spend my time trying to make a difference to both the Financial Services industry and also to individuals’ financial wellbeing. Do this through coaching, training and the (award winning!) Informed Decisions Blog & Podcast.

Contacting Paddy Delaney:

You can follow Paddy on Twitter or sign up for his blog/podcast.

By Paddy Delaney

“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about”

– Margaret Wheatley

I have always loved a good community – I love the social aspect of being part of a community – I feel close, in a really warm and fuzzy way with the other humans in that group. Whether that was playing sports, working fruit & veg markets as a teenager, studying through college, in working life, or coming to Cong every November, I Iove nothing more than being part of a community! For many years I was occasionally told I was naïve, and I hope I am not gone too far the other way, but are communities always a good thing!?

If you asked 100 people what the word community means, fully 90 of them would say things like ‘belonging’, ‘togetherness’, ‘progression’ or some such positively-slanted description. But as sure as God made little apples, there are communities that are doing anything but having a positive influence, and they are equally if not even more resilient than the positive ones!

But what makes a community a community? Either they have a shared interest, or they have shared values. For example, my next door neighbour and I have zero shared values but we have shared interest in stopping the ‘little feckers’ from stealing our wheelie-bins and setting them alight!

Or I might be working in an industry where our shared values are one of hood-winking customers. As a community our value-system might be one of deceit, greed and selfishness. We can dress it up all we like – we can present shiny brochures of smiling couples hand in hand on a beach, but we are really only interested in lining our own purse as thickly as we can, and at the expense of those who trust us.

For a decade I worked in a community that had some of those values. It served a purpose as I learned the ropes for the first few years. I was happy being part of the community – strength in numbers etc. But over time as my confidence grew and I had more awareness of the chasm between my values and those of the broader community, it began to feel a bit off.

There were of course individuals like myself in that community whose own values were at odds with that of the industry. So, it seemed to me that, instead of the community having shared values it had a shared interest in keeping the status-quo, of ensuring that it remained fully self-serving. Don’t get me wrong – the service it does for people can still be significant, but just not nearly as significant as it could be if it were more customer-centric and less self-centric.

The industry that I refer to, unfortunately, is Financial Advice. I still serve clients in that area, but in order to do so in a way that is in line with my values and the interests of my clients I have had to leave that community and create a new way of working which delivers better outcomes for clients.

I have gone from working in a community of several thousand people, to a community of just me, and my growing number of clients. I have had to create a unique proposition in order to work in line with my values. I have to agree with Margaret Wheatley, that there is no power for change greater than a community discovery what it cares about! I am far from the complete article, and I don’t claim to be a vanguard here – I am merely standing on the shoulders of giants.

I can say too that even though I am a tiny community right now I can see that I won’t be alone for long – that others are changing too – and that will be awesome to witness and see the impact it has on consumers. In order to evolve, to improve and to survive we must thing longer-term than ‘the next sale’. I am an unapologetic capitalist of sorts but firmly believe, as business communities we must get back to basics of what and who are we trying to serve or impact in a positive way, apart from our balance sheet!? I’ll leave the final words to Margaret Wheatley, she says it a whole pile better than I can;

“Whether we’re in a small village or a major global corporation, in any country and in any type of work, we are being asked to work faster, more competitively, more selfishly, and to focus only on the short-term. These values cannot lead to anything healthy and sustainable, and they are alarmingly destructive. I believe we must learn quickly now how to work and live together in ways that bring us back to life.”


  • Bob Kennedy says:

    Interesting paper Paddy. Nice to see Wheatley being referenced. If you get a chance read Gerard Tannam’s submission #43 “Why Community mustn’t mean Market”.

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