Community in Business and Organizations: Part 1 of a 4
I’ve been enjoying the Community Roundtable report State of Community Management; best practices by practitioners. You don’t want to miss this report if you’re interested in community management and how social/digital, online communities are transforming business and organizational life.
As I’ve reviewed the study I’ve found myself thinking outside of the ‘online community’ box to what I’ll refer to as ‘community’ leadership. A way of being, seeing, leading and organizing that I believe is the key to growing movements, tribes and teams.
Membership is not Community.
Memberships are exclusive, often based on status. The act of becoming ‘a member’ itself does not guarantee community. In the old days, we had to make a financial commitment before we could engage, be a part of, learn or have access to the ‘community.’ With the advent of online communities and open source technology, access has forever changed. Now at a mere click of a mouse I have access to unlimited knowledge, resources and real invitations to communities.
Think about gated communities, country clubs and small elite colleges. These are bastions of exclusivity and models of the old school membership mindset; pay, climb the fence, prove yourself and then access MAY be granted. If you can scale the SAT, write the check or navigate the network you might just earn ACCESS.
Social/digital/internet and open source technology have transformed the definition of access, membership and community.
You get it- right?
Staying with an old school, limit access, deny benefits until after someone cuts off their right arm , scales the membership walls or better yet pays dues is so 20th century. It doesn’t sync up with the new COMMUNITY paradigm. And don’t by any means assume I am saying community is engagement. And I’m not saying that joining or belonging is un-community like. I contend that membership alone is not proof of community. Community is much more complex, rich and valuable than mere membership!
Communities are open, not just transparent and they’re flexible and dynamic. Certainly they have boundaries; formed around a common idea, basic beliefs, a cause, like, dislike, purpose, vision and passions they define their selves by what they believe.
Community includes. Community expands.
Community invites participation and engagement and allows for value transactions to be navigated and chosen along the individuals engagement process by the individual not by the organization or group.
Today people are choosing which communities to align with and disqualifying THEMSELVES from memberships and affiliations that aren’t congruent with who they are and what they believe in. Online communities swell as individuals ‘opt in’ And opting in , joining is just the beginning- it is the first step of engagement and participation.
Look around; is your team, organization, business open? Is it easy to engage and participate with you? Are their few if any barriers to entry for those who want to be a part of what you’re doing? Are there value added transactions available after I opt in, is the community experience entirely customizable for me? Can I design and customize my participation and engagement in the community to fit my needs and wants? Can I purchase, engage with value added products and services within the community? Is the community designed for engagement? Does it add so much value I can’t help but coming back for more and more and enriching the community with my investments of time, money and resources?
Membership it’s not Community and for that matter Community…it’s not what it use to be.
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