Wael Ghonim, the young Google executive who has became a symbol of Egypt’s pro-democracy uprising after he launched the original Facebook page credited with sparking the initial protest, called the Egyptian upheaval, “Revolution 2.0.” “If you want to liberate a country, give them the internet,” Ghonim said.
What Facebook and Twitter really did that sparked the short, 18-day Egyptian revolution was to bring a community together, even if they didn't know they were a community. In Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam argues that we are experiencing a breakdown of community with our families, neighbors, and cities. We are isolated from our fellow citizens and only tenuously connected as a community and as a nation. Clearly in Egypt that isolation was helped by the technology and popularity of Facebook.
Unfortunately, many of us in organizations are isolated from each other, whether by barriers of space or geography. When we lose the sense that each of us is inextricably linked together at work, when we begin to stop caring and having concern for each other, and when we act as if what we do has no effect on the rest of the organization, then we experience separation, mistrust, and fear.
Community-building is so important that it should be the first step for leaders who attempt to initiate and lead change. Without a true sense of community, no leader will ever be able to successfully implement change or sustain improvements.