The Art of Community: Notes
The goal of a community is belonging. If there is no belonging, there is no community. The mechanism behind communication in a community is stories. Communities feel like communities when there is a newswire. Communities enable. An important first step in growing a strong community is uniting people by their interests and passions.
Teams are the smaller sub-groups of a community, typically based around a primary interest or skill set that helps forward that shared interest. Teams are units of belonging. Each team is united by solving a part of the grander aim of the community. First step: identify how we can divide our community into teams.
Communication between teams is essential. Make use of people who may be in multiple teams. They are the glue that sticks teams together.
Inspire and encourage a baseline quality of communication. Ubuntu Code of Conduct builds the foundation of respect in contributors. Be clear, be concise, be responsive, be fun, be human.
Pick an appropriate medium for communication, based on the needs/preferences of contributors and their workflow. Identify the key roles and personalities in your project and choose communication methods that make the most sense to those roles. Discussion gets going faster when you have fewer choices.
To build a strong team, build a strong environment. A team that provides assistance and supports provides a sense of value and belonging. Suggestion: give your community the ability to build its own teams without prior approval to encourage productive, diverse results. Teams should also identify how to communicate tasks, issues, and goodwill.
A strategic plan is an important tool if hiring a community manager. Producing strategic documents is part of the responsibility of governing the community and may need to be formalized into a recognized body. The strategic plan details the mission, opportunities and areas of collaboration, skills required, objectives, success criteria, and implementation plan. Also need a list of teams, with a definition of scope. Shannon's comment: While these documents seem worthwhile, it is all too easy to get bogged down in producing documents rather than doing work, and it is likely that no one will read them. I suggest creating these in a collaborative meeting environment as quickly and succinctly as possible, returning to edit when necessary.
What is required for the community to be successful? Consider infrastructure, equipment, travel and events.
Shannon's comment:" How to encourage people to contribute? Biggest problems with building community are: - Lack of communication - Silos or working alone - Too busy - Long periods of silence or of being inaccessible - Sense of hierarchy--my things are more important than your things - Lack of forward momentum - No milestones to celebrate