Javier García


Expert Contributor

The Power of a Community

By Javier García Iza | Tue, 05/17/2022 - 09:00

What does it mean to be human? What could be considered the particular characteristic of a human being that marks the difference from the rest of the animal world? What is something no other species possesses and, for that matter, the particular reason humans became the dominant species?

The particular characteristic that separates us humans from any other species is the ability to collaborate flexibly and in large numbers. My research on the topic led me to the book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2011). In this book, Yuval Noah Harari argues that the key to Homo sapiens’ survival and reproduction is social cooperation among themselves. According to a study presented in his book, Harari mentions that some chimpanzee species collaborate very well, even in numbers of 20 or 30, but once the “herd” reaches 50, the group starts to break up with a new alpha and they can no longer continue to collaborate. In other studies, referring specifically to ants and bees, he describes intricate collaboration in large numbers, but no flexibility. They have an evident system led by a queen bee with no coups. These species are focused on specific jobs and roles but cannot manage flexibility. In his conclusion, he declares: “Sapiens can cooperate in extremely flexible ways with countless numbers of strangers. This is why sapiens rule the world.”  

I truly believe this; the human being is the only animal on the planet that can collaborate in large numbers and in a flexible manner. And this is what makes us the dominant species on the planet. That is reflected in what I consider “The Power of a Community”. 

What does it mean to collaborate flexibly?

Let’s take a basic example: Sofía is using a computer. This computer is made out of plastic manufactured in one country, its monitor was assembled in another country, the microchip in another, and so on for all of its parts. Once assembled, it was transported by different boats, trucks, and other means of transportation, until it arrived at the store where someone sold it to Sofía. At the end of the day, Sofía using a computer would not be possible without the collaboration of those hundreds of people who were involved in the production, transportation and commercialization of the computer in question.

This is one example of how we have achieved a functioning and flexible collaborative system on a large scale but there are many other examples in the modern world that confirm humans have developed methods for collaborating flexibly as a group of hundreds of thousands of people, and that is what makes us unique and stronger as a whole.

If we reflect upon ancient times, when humans would hunt and gather food for survival, as individuals they would hardly stand a chance against an animal when trying to kill it, so they had to learn to do it as a group. The animal would be hunted until it grew tired and humans could assert dominance over it, kill it, and, finally, eat it. Such dominance is what I consider The Power of a Community: the social abilities that human beings have developed that are crucial to survival.

In this line of thought, it is well known that human beings have limited physical capabilities. The reality is that we are the weakest species in the world. If you leave a human, a dog, an ape, and a lion on a deserted island, the dog, ape, and lion would most likely survive by instinct, while the human would not. But what would happen if you left a thousand humans and a thousand apes on that same island? After a while, the thousand human beings would likely dominate the apes, as well as the entire island.

In this regard, even if independently we have always wanted to find stability on an individual level, it is in a collective group where humans distinguish themselves and ensure their place of dominance over other species.

In my line of work, as the CEO of IOS OFFICES, flexible collaboration has been key to our and our client’s success. With a community of more than 20,000 active members and our compromise of years as a provider of office space for more than 10,000 companies, we have experienced first-hand The Power of a Community.

This brings me back to a few years ago, in a shopping mall, where I ran into Roberto, one of my clients in the financial services industry. After greeting each other, we started talking. After a moment, Roberto interrupted me and said: “It’s you!” I could tell he was surprised and unable to contain his emotion. “You made us rich! We multiplied our investment 10 times.” At that moment, he realized what he had experienced happened because he was a part of the IOS OFFICES’ Community.

He proceeded to tell me about how this had happened. On a day like any other, Roberto visited the cafeteria of his IOS coworking space to pour himself a cup of coffee, where he met Arturo, with whom he began to talk about their professions. “I dedicate myself to mining,” to which Roberto replied: “How interesting! I manage investment funds. Could you tell me more about what you are doing?” Arturo then told him about how he was starting a business and planning to acquire a mine, even though at that moment, they did not have enough purchasing power to do so. Roberto, sipping his coffee, listened and showed interest in Arturo’s project, and they continued their conversation in a friendly manner. Sometime later, they met with the council of his investment fund and Roberto decided to invest in Arturo’s company and buy the mine. A few years later, they set up a company in Canada that eventually went public on the Canadian stock market. When he finished telling me this story, it came to me: THAT is the power of a community two strangers meeting at the cafeteria, one with an idea and a project, and the other with the resources to make it a reality. 

The case of Roberto and Arturo is an excellent example of the power of a community, and just like their story, we have had many others. At IOS OFFICES we have witnessed stories such as that of Juan Pablo, who moved to Monterrey and found acquaintances who shared his hobbies, such as golf; or Emmanuel, who found the perfect buyer for his house in his “office neighbor” at one of IOS locations. 

In an offline community such as IOS OFFICES, you not only have the opportunity to set up a company and do business. It goes much further than that. You can be introduced to people, sell or buy a pet, organize a date, and get your cousin a job. Endless possibilities open up by building many connections that become personal in sports, health, hobbies, and business.

For me, the formula for success is having connections; or as my uncle put it: ”Mijito, you have to be where there is”, a play of words that refers to being in the place and time where money and ideas collide and expand.

Photo by:   Javier García