Is Community Building Just Team Building by a Different Name?

Is Community Building Just Team Building by a Different Name?


No. Team Building and Community Building are Not the Same Things

Let’s take a closer look at team building in order to better understand what it is.

This site says team building, “… builds trust, mitigates conflict, encourages communication, and increases collaboration.”

This site says, team building exercises “help the team learn about each other — how each person thinks, works, solves problems and has fun.”

This site says, “A team that works well together is more effective, more productive, and more successful — not to mention happier and more fun to work with!”

Distillation: Team Building exercises seek to build trust, enhance communication, collaboration, happiness/fun, enable problem-solving, effectiveness and productivity. These are some of the goals of Community Building, but community building takes a group farther along the evolutionary scale: A community is the greatest evolution of a team.


Community Building Raises the Bar

The community building process differs from team building exercises in these ways:

  1. Team building exercises either stay on the surface level or go too quickly to the depths before taking the time to build a foundation and create a safe place. Community building takes the time needed to establish a foundation of trust which eventually results in meaningful bonds between the members of the group.
  2. Team building may not have the lasting effect of community building. As one author mused: “But, whether or not you and your colleagues enjoyed the experience, what happened when your team members returned to the office?” Once a group has evolved into a community, a more-than-one-session process, it is forever changed because the relationships among the members are transformed dramatically.
  3. Team building often introduces divisive exercises such as these. The exercise may be revealing and fun but it encourages pairing within the group. As pairing is a threat to a community, it’s not something managers of a group want to encourage. Community building counts inclusivity among its seven pillars; it discourages pairing.

A community is deeper, richer and more authentic than a team alone can be. All communities are teams but not all teams are communities.


There Are No Shortcuts in Community Building

What About The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator [MBTI]? The MBTI, another tool often used for team building, is a great exercise for coming to understand yourself. But telling someone that you are an ENFJ, for instance, is not the same as telling them who you are. It adds another descriptive label to your identity, giving you another mask to hide behind. Plus, it can cause those of the same classifications to band together and that creates, say it with me…pairing

If we want to get to know one another, we want to come to feel safe in removing the masks we wear, we don’t want to add layers of veils to them.


What’s Your Goal?

If your goal is to build trust and collaboration among the members of your group, to create a cohesive team whose members are happy to work together, where they know, support, celebrate and respect one another, then team building is not the answer; community building is.

Team building exercises are designed to knit a group together so they work well together but we can aspire to so much more than that. No group works better together than one where the members have evolved into a community.

Photo Credit: Bogdan Morar

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About The Author

I have always loved writing and community building. I’ve written a book about healing and happiness, The Happy Place, as well as a Community Building book, Sounding the Drum: Community Building in the Digital Age,both available at any Amazon store. I’ve been through life changes that I thought were the end of my world, but I’m still here. You never know what will happen next. Isn’t that what makes life interesting?