E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

What Is (A) Community?

Gran Canaria - Roque Nublo in the WinterWhile a rather fascinating and inspiring conversation is developing nicely further on over in Google Plus, around a recent blog entry that my good friend Euan Semple published over at his blog under the title “Ten ways to create a knowledge ecology” (A superb piece of writing that, by the way, I can strongly recommend you all have a look and read it through as well, in case you haven’t done it just yet, as I do believe it’s probably one of the best articles published this year around the social transformation that businesses need to go through in order to become and live social, and help prepare for that knowledge ecology that Euan hints so nicely), the topic of communities and gardening communities through community managers (Or community facilitators) came up again and I thought I would go ahead and share with you folks this quick blog post where I can reference a rather interesting and very thought-provoking short video clip that tries to answer the question we have all been trying to answer all along: What is (a) community?

You would remember how in the recent past I put together another blog entry around this very same topic trying to explain and define what a community is, and, most importantly, what it is not!, under the heading “Community Management Fundamentals – Where Do I Start?” Well, earlier on today, I bumped into this short blog post by my good friend Nancy White where she is referencing a brief video clip, rather inspiring, I may have to add, that pretty much explains it all very nicely on what distinguishes a community, and its many traits, and what not. Worth while watching it through, for sure! Thus I have taken the liberty of embedding the video over here, produced and released by non-profit organisation Essential Arts, as part of Bilocal, so that you folks could also have a look and watch it along:

What is a Community? from Essential Arts on Vimeo.

Pretty inspiring, don’t you think? Well, on that very same Google Plus conversation I linked above, my good friend, John Tropea shared another link to a recent blog article he put together under “Knowledge ecology related to facilitating CoPs“, where he shares extensively what his experience in helping facilitate communities of practice has been all along, by referencing and annotating further a good number of the various different entry points that Euan himself referenced on the original blog post on knowledge ecologies. Another must-read!

The rather interesting part from John’s article is his very succinct distinction between a community manager and a community facilitator in helping get the most out of the overall community experience without mandating how communities should really operate. Quite the opposite eventually, i.e. empowering them to manage their own flows of knowledge, their own connections amongst community members, how they collaborate with one another, and how they can help address business problems effectively, but without having too much intervention happening altogether. Acting more like leaders and facilitators leading and showing the way, rather than (community) managers trying to manage just another project; in this case a community.

Lots of great tips in this regard shared across by John himself, that makes his blog entry a really good and worth while read for those folks who would want to unleash the full power of their own communities by perhaps just letting them go farther enough to discover their own value and build upon it over the course of time, as CheeChin Liew nicely added into the conversation with this priceless quote, picking up on another one from the one and only Dave Snowden:

“You can’t manage community but you can create a community ecology”

And that folks is one of the many many reasons why I am having a total blast at the moment, over at Google Plus engaging in such conversations as the one I tried to portrait briefly with this blog post that would surely help us all mature further on about our own ideas on the art of not just managing but facilitating successfully (online) communities. Yes, indeed, it’s a tough job! No-one said it would be an easy one, but with priceless conversations, resources and further links shared across by those in the know, as mentioned above, somehow the job does seem a little bit easier now, don’t you think?

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  1. Nice post Luis, and engaging conversation.

    In business I never like the term “manager” as it indicates ownership by an individual (you know I strongly dislike the term Knowledge Management as we no longer manage knowledge in the social world we now find ourselves in but Knowledge Share. But that’s a different discussion topic 😉 ).

    Both yourself and John touched on the term “Leadership” and I think that is a very important point. Community Managers need to evolve to become Community Leaders, encouraging knowledge sharing and collaboration within a community so that it can become self driven and self supporting.

    IMHO the most successful communities are those that need little / no involvement of the community leader.

  2. This is what I’ve been trying to say all along, Luis. The wheel was not manufactured in a state-of-the-art facility (so to speak), it was carved out of stone with basic hand tools. And look where those rudimentary tools have lead? Flight delays! 😀

    When we provide simple, easy-to-use tools and basic instruction how to use them, and then get the hell out of the way, innovation happens.

    And, like David, I dislike the term “manage.” To me, manage means “lowest common denominator, to get by.” No leader manages. No constructive craftsman manages. I prefer the term Knowledge Creation, as I believe the effective sharing of information leads to that information being more widely digested and converted to knowledge, which feeds any community.

    Keep up the good work!

    PS: Found this post on G+ before G-reader today! 😛

  3. Great post Luis, yet another one! Thanks for mentioned..

    I just only playing with a word game based on the original quote of Dave Snowden:
    “You can’t manage knowledge, but you can create a knowledge ecology”
    Love it! And will re-use it, from now on.. 😉

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