Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘community-building’

From the Melbourne forum

TACSI, The Australian Centre for Social Innovation, has recently taken over management of ASIX, The Australian Social Innovation Exchange, and are exploring how best to carry on their work of connecting and enabling innovators. I’ve am thrilled to be participating in this process by facilitating the input of social entrepreneurs, innovators and those who support their work to help guide the way forward.

This is happening in three ways:

Firstly with 18 Individual interviews with 18 thought-leaders in our sector, including social entrepreneurs such as Brad Krauskopf from Hub Melbourne, Rebecca Scott from STREAT, Brodie McCullock from Space3 in Perth and Marcus Westbury from Renew Australia. Organisations represented include the Foundation for Young Australians, Social Traders, The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, the Centre for Social Impact and the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence. It’s a real treat to be able to speak with all these inspiring and committed changemakers and a big responsibility to reflect their insights to the TACSI board.

Secondly we’re hosting public workshops in Melbourne and Sydney.

Thirdly if you’re reading this I’d love you to take ten minutes to fill out this survey.

We all seem to understand instinctively that social innovation emerges best from a supportive community with a diversity of participants and support. The question becomes: how do we achieve that? What is the role than an organisation like TACSI and a program like ASIX can play in helping to foster both a community of innovators and a culture of innovation.

If you care about social innovation in Australia and how social innovators can best be supported this is a chance to help set a direction that makes a real difference for all of us. The survey will only take a few minutes (only six questions!) and your contributions will help guide my report to the board of TACSI and help them map a way forward for ASIX which supports our community and the work that needs doing to create better futures.

This is all happening very fast with my report due next week so the survey will only remain open until Saturday morning. Please check it out.
You can also follow the conversation and share your thoughts on Twitter via the #asixnext hashtag.

Thanks!

If you have any questions about the unification of ASIX and TACSI they should be directed to Martin Stewart-Weeks, a director on the TACSI board and co-founder and Chair of ASIX.

Read Full Post »

Language matters. It frames our expectations and can limit or expand our thinking.

I’ve written before about my preference for the term “peerfunding” over “crowdfunding”. More recently I’ve begun to see a spectrum of activities which can be more crowd or peer-focused, making both terms relevant but the distinction important.

To me, crowdsourcing is a competitive process – the crowd is either helping select amongst alternatives or competing to win an award. As an example, GeniusRocket is a design crowdsourcing site – their community competes via the submission of ideas and proposals, to have their work selected and be paid by GeniusRocket’s clients.

The Pepsi Refresh Project is another example of the crowd in action. The crowd is helping Pepsi select where to invest its philanthropic dollars. It’s crowdsourcing because it’s a large mass of people who have little-to-no contact with each other making submissions, in the form of votes here and designs with GeniusRocket, to the organizer of the contest.

What Creating the Future is doing, on the other hand, is peersourcing. They have invited their community to co-create the criteria and process of the scholarship fund they recently raised funds for on StartSomeGood.

In this instance the participants are not an anonymous “crowd” and they are not competing with each other. Instead they are co-creating something together. They are peers, colleagues, collaborators. Whilst the number of responses isn’t large the quality of thinking behind the responses makes them enormously valuable.

If we simply refer to Pepsi Refresh, GeniusRocket and what Creating The Future are doing as “crowdsourcing” I think we are missing a key differentiator between them. I am loath to create more jargon but I fear that calling collaborative efforts like Creating The Future, or the way Beth Kanter aggregates contributions and best practices through wiki’s, Facebook and her blog crowdsourcing is to miss the most important aspect of these approaches: that they build a community of peers and invite co-creation, rather than setting up the “crowd” to compete for the organizers favor.

I believe what we and our ventures do at StartSomeGood is peerfunding rather than crowdfunding. On StartSomeGood, as with other fundraising platforms for entrepreneurs and creatives, the majority of the funding comes from the fundraisers existing community. Supporters feel an affiliation for the project and affection for the organizer, or connect to the cause via a shared identity or experience. These funders are not a crowd, they are peers, and they will be your most important asset in creating change.

I’m thrilled to see a project which was successfully peerfunded on StartSomeGood now move on to peersourcing the details of how the scholarship will work. Check out their thinking so far and feel free to contribute!

Read Full Post »

As I wrote recently, Burning Man is Festival 2.0. It is a user-generated community, built on the respect and responsibility of its citizens, a place where people are participants, not consumers.

The event and indeed the entire culture is based on ten principles, one of which is “leaving no trace”. This practice of leaving no trace creates a radically different consciousness than you see at other festivals. There is little-to-no trash anywhere on the ground as the community takes responsibility not only for our own trash but for each-others, picking up any pieces of MOOP (Material Out Of Place) we see. Camps build evaporation ponds to deal with their gray water and ship out all their own food scraps and recycling. Successfully leaving no trace requires more than the right consciousness, it requires intent, in the form of pre-planning, and responsibility in the form of follow-through.

This responsibility is most apparent at the camp level. The Black Rock Organization recently published the MOOP Map of Burning Man 2010, seen above. I am pleased to report that our camp, More Carrot, was given a green grade, the best possible, indicating low to no impact trace. Not that this was exceptional: as you can see the vast majority of the city is green, with only scattered patches of orange (moderate impact trace) and red (high impact trace). This is what a community looks like: people taking responsibility for themselves and taking care for each other and their environment. It’s one of the things that inspires me to participate in Burning Man.

Looking back over the past four MOOP maps it is clear that things are getting progressively better, with fewer and fewer camps leaving any noticable trace. As you can see this improvement was especially dramatic from the 2006 to 2007 event (click to see full size):

What changed between 2006 to 2007? The MOOP Map was published for the first time .

There’s a really important lesson in this: accountability resting on transparency made the difference. Despite all the power of the Burning Man culture an unacceptable amount of MOOP remained. Then, suddenly, this culture was reinforced with publically-available information detailing how the different camps and neighourhoods of the city were performing against the Leave No Trace goal. And immediately this public accountability produced a huge leap forward in the trash situation as camps worked harder than ever to avoid an orange or red grade.

Transparency reinforced existing community norms both by making deviance from this norm visible and thus additionally unacceptable and signaling to those doing the right thing that their efforts were appreciated. It felt good to see our camp covered in Green when the map was released. It feels good to be part of something that inspires and aggregates individual contributions towards a community goal in this way.

The question is how can we create this level of personal responsibility and community consciousness in all our communities? What sort of transparency is required to support this?

Read Full Post »

“Community Manager” is the job title of the moment but beyond those with this written on their business cards the truth is that anyone doing social media work on behalf of an organization is doing community management work. You are the face of the organization, front-of-house, the link between internal organization and external community, at least online.

So then, what sort of link are you?

I think there are two basic profiles for a community manager: the bridge and the wall. One represents an open stance, the other a defensive posture. Initially both can appear the same, can project the same enthusiasm, share the same great links, ask the same questions.

The differences are profound however and emerges slowly but surely over time, as the community becomes aware of just how real this engagement is. Or it emerges very quickly, in the face of a crisis. In either case your organizations openness and accessibility will ultimately characterize what sort of a community manager you are.

Characteristics of the ‘Bridge’ Community Manager:

  • You are an open channel of communications between community and organization
  • The views and interests of the online community are genuinely taken into consideration in organizational decision-making
  • You are considered senior within your organization, with the trust of the executive
  • You consider your first job to be representing the community within the organization
  • You share interests with and consider yourself a part of the community
  • You acknowledge your mistakes quickly and openly
  • When you ask questions, the answers matter, and responses are fed back
  • You think of your community as collaborators

Characteristics of the ‘Wall’ Community Manager:

  • You are considered a junior role, without internal influence
  • You consider your first job to be representing the organization to the community
  • You have little in common with your community, they are “they”, not “you”
  • You ask questions, but the answers don’t go anywhere
  • Mistakes are downplayed or denied
  • You think of your community as donors

If your organization is employing you to be a wall, and many, if not most, organizations feel most comfortable starting here, then your job should be to help evolve your role into that of a bridge, and in so doing transform your organization for the better.

What do you think? Do those lists look familiar?

Photo by Jay Cables of a Banksy piece, used under a Creative Commons license.

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 27 other followers