Community managers have a tough job. They deal with lots of different stakeholders trying to find that elusive “middle ground”. They incessantly cheer on community activities and push adoption of collaboration best practices; but when it comes to validating their position through tangible and quantifiable metrics it can sometimes seem daunting. Is the best measure user participation? How about community size? Each of these seem like great things, and they are, but typically organizations don’t have a lot of tolerance for soft measures that don’t directly impact the “bottom-line”.
Building a Better Mousetrap
“Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
Is there any more familiar quotation related to innovation? I doubt it. However, “build a better mousetrap” was actually a misquotation. What Emerson really said was…
Communities are NOT Teams
I recently stumbled across a great post called Communities Manifesto: 10 Principles for Successful
Communities by Stan Garfield that I highly recommend. In his post Mr. Garfield lays out 10 principals that define community and also has suggestions for helping them grow and mature.
Along For The Ride
The amount of control a community has over process and direction within a project has recently come up in a situation I’ve been involved with and I think it’s a great topic for a post since it strikes at the heart of many company’s trials and tribulations in creating vibrant communities. The real question in these situations is not one of control but of trust. Can you just be along for the ride and let someone else influence your project even if you don’t agree with everything they do?
Why Trust Matters
Abraham Lincoln may have understood trust and community better than anyone in our nation’s history. He knew that maintaining trust meant having the people’s confidence… and with confidence you can lead. I can’t imagine having to make the kind of decisions that he did, but I can imagine how important maintaining the people’s trust must have been through that period in history. Every leader must have their community’s trust to be effective.
Addendum to Brook's Law
I just read Joel Spolsky’s blog entitled A Little Less Conversation which discusses communication overload. After reading that post I began to consider my own personal experience in meetings over the last dozen or so years and decided to add an addendum to the communication node problem that was so eloquently detailed in the Mythical Man Month by Brooks.
The Art of Listening
My how things have changed! Just a few years ago companies and organizations could buy multi-million dollar television ads and make a mediocre product successful. People trusted companies to produce great products and would rush out to buy the latest and greatest gizmo because they knew it was going to work as promised. Unfortunately, most companies violated that trust by producing crappy products or products that didn’t solve user needs. Fortunately for us this is changing thanks to inventive companies that are taking advantage of social media and it’s ability to let them talk directly to the customer.