Looking from the outside on Drupal

Unfortunately, I could not attend the Drupalcamp in Vienna, instead, a short outline how to classify the structure and dynamics of groups.

The structure

People form groups, when they want to distance themselves from others and create, however natured, a structure. This very simple group description includes two key elements: dissociation and structure.

A group can either be hermetically closed (there is no way out), it can be closed (there is hardly a way in, and hardly a way out) or a group is open (it is easy to belong and easily possible to leave the group).

How permeable the boundaries of a group are, is visible in the type of membership:

  • under certain conditions (Management board)
  • voluntary (drupal.org)
  • optional (on the basis of invitations)
  • randomly (Nationality) compulsory (a school class)

To look at the structure of a group is a bit more complicated.

There is a public organizational structure, depicted in organizational or management plans. The organizational structure is perceived as inadequate, well-organized or as totally over-organized. The individual structure appears when looking at the staff appointment scheme and its occupation. These structural elements are relatively easy to understand, but the critical point in all groups is their latent structure.

The latent structure can be simple (pic 1), mixed (pic 2) – different hierarchies are clearly distinguished from each other or complex (pic 3), f.e., with a shared leadership and many different functional areas that are not really clearly distinguished from each other (even if it seems in the organizational chart as if they are clearly distinct from each other).


Fig.1: Simple structure


Fig.2: Mixed structure


Fig.3: Complex structure

Structural problems in groups arise when these clear boundaries of powers do not exist or are not practised. If, additionally, responsibilities are delegated to more specialized sections, commissions or committees, you can be sure that it comes to conflicts and power struggles, and certainly not to productive work.

The hidden structure results from the sum of the ideas, desires, experiences and perceptions of all members of the group. The hidden structure determines the success of the group.

The structure of the Drupal community to me is this: public organizational structure: (I haven’t shown the structure of the association board. The number of stars as a symbol of the members does not reflect the actual number of members.)


Fig. 4: Inner organizational structure


Fig. 5: Hidden structure

The dynamics of a group result from the external pressure on the group (threatened / or relaxed) and its balance between individual preferences and interests of group members and the cohesive power, the power that holds the group together.


Fig. 6: Dynamics

The balance between the cohesive power and the individual preferences will decide not only on how the group is going to be developed, but also about whether it will still exist. The draft above of the hidden structure of the Drupal community reflects my personal point of view. How the balance between cohesive forces and personal interests is, I can only interpret based on assumptions.

Maybe, it would be interesting, if the members of the community would draw their own picture. That would give a good impression about the actual balance within the community.


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