For the past year I have been developing tools and methods for community building. I believe that communities are the source of innovation and growth. There is huge untapped potential in understanding how communities work. This applies to corporations and non-profits alike.
Here, I want to try to summarise the obstacles to harnessing the power of communities in three points.
I'm interested to find out if these resonate with you and if they apply to your organisation. Find me on LinkedIn to continue the conversation.
Obstacle #1: Silos
This is kinda obvious. There are of course companies that have great healthy communities and actively support community building. But there are also managers who are completely clueless about the topic.
My definition for community is: “A community is a group of people that feel they belong together because of a shared bond or purpose.”
In many corporations people are expected to form communities more via bonds than purpose. They might work in the same office building or team. And that is the bond. But this overlooks purpose as a community driver. And people cannot build purpose-based communities if they don’t understand others’ personal passions and drivers. Often, vision and purpose are owned by management and employees are not expected to have their own individual visions. If people do not get to express their visions and personal passion, these people cannot form natural purpose-driven communities within the company.
Obstacle #2: An event is not a community
So, you organise a big event for experts. And you think you are building a community. In line with business objectives, your event needs to have keynotes and panel discussions. And every time the speakers come down from the stage there is a crowd waiting to exchange ideas and to connect. It's because people want to connect with other like-minded souls. That’s what the events should be about. Connecting.
However, typical events do not support community building. They support information sharing. And people don’t need that. They wait for the breaks and side events and after parties where they get to share thoughts, argue, eat, drink, sing and dance together. That’s when they form communities.
Obstacle #3: Things are left to chance
What if communities are a natural thing and they just form if they form? Yes, a community is a natural structure, but that does not mean you cannot have a Community Strategy and KPIs. That does not mean you shouldn’t study members’ needs, the ecosystem’s resources and trust-building methods.
Communities can be a powerful asset, if we take the role of the community builder seriously. Do you see community builders in your organisation or is it left to chance? Or is it you, are you the agent of change, is it what you are trying to do, or is it even part of your job description?
Speak to you soon,
Miikka Leinonen, community builder