Communities


There are some interesting tweets coming out of E2.0 (yes, i am becoming little active at twitter), more on the subect of communities.

Luis Suarez has been tweeting regularly from there, two of them catching the eye …

Wish folks would switch from Community manager to Community facilitator; much more engaging & less notion of mandating

Communities need a Sponsor, one or more Leaders, one or more Coordinators, members & content. NO MANAGERS!

Interesting thoughts, these. The thought that communities need to be facilitated, not managed. And this is somewhat of the paradox of communities (though not really paradox, but since it doesnt align with any particular school of thought, it becomes somewhat so) … something i have written about before … that communities, while they may be self-forming, they need some kind of impetus from somewhere to keep going.

Take the example of groups at facebook … or at linkedin … there are quite a few groups there. But, most of the groups, over a period of time, lose some of the momentum, and become dormant. This, probably, is true of all communities? Even in human conversations, say if you meet someone from college after a long time, the conversation goes well for some time, and then there is a lull … unless someone picks up the thread and takes it forward.

Now, communities are made of people, so this should be expected of communities, too. Which is why, i agree with Luis that there must be facilitators who can ensure the conversation in the community carries on. Managers would bring in their own form of structure or agenda, which may not be the best way to drive communities. Instead, facilitators need to blend with the community, understand the nature of the conversation, and steer the conversation, if required. Not really required to steer the conversation if its going on as it is. More about picking up the thread, and ensuring there are means to revive the conversation as it begins to wane.

What this means is also that communities need some form of external impetus. Within the organizational context, communities need some inputs from the organization, and are not completely self-forming, self-regulating. There is a role which the organization has to play, and this role could be of facilitating the conversation, letting the outcomes of the conversation evolve. Which is to say that unlike, say, a task-force, a community cannot be about specific targets or specific objectives, but rather, of bearing in mind that the conversation, of itself, would lead to some results. There could be some intervention, however, which could guide a conversation, but this must be seen to be non-intrusive.

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