Peter Block has long been a ‘go to’ writer people who think carefully about the process of change and how best to help positive change happen. For me, he IS the Consultants’ Consultant. As the author of Flawless Consulting – A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used; The Flawless Consulting Fieldbook:- Understanding Your Expertise; Stewardship: Choosing Service over Self-Interest and The Empowered Manager he has a 30 year track record of wisdom and knowledge in how to help managers, leaders and consultants create positive change. So it was with some excitement that I first read Community – The Structure of Belonging.
It did not disappoint.
Block distils his practical knowledge of change and describes his experiences in applying it to helping communities tackle fragmentation, conflict and disconnection. He provides practical guidance on how community can be built, how transformation maybe nurtured and how healthy communities can be built. But he offers few solutions; just questions and processes that help us to tackle our own problems and pursue our own aspirations.
This is Block at his person centred best. At its essence he describes how to move from preoccupations with deficiencies, narrow interests and entitlements to possibility, generosity and ‘gifts’ through the art of convening: bringing the right people to the right conversations to tackle the right questions. By reframing leadership as the art of convening Block lays down an important challenge that many will choose to ignore.
The book will help anyone who cares about the wellbeing of their community – whether that is an organisation, a neighbourhood, a city or a parish. However it is neither an easy nor a comfortable read. As Block says the ‘sole purpose [of the book] is to provide a path toward creating a future very different from what we now have.
So, if you are comfortable with the status quo, steer clear.