In my last blog I mentioned I recently became a community member for cultureQs®. This board game was created by an innovative chap called Eric Lynn, who lives in Germany. The community has a strong focus on building dialogue between diverse groups of people that can bring lasting change to teams, organisations, communities and even globally.
So what is a community and what are the benefits? Being part of a community like cultureQs means that I have a network of like-minded folk across the world who are focusing on embracing diversity and encouraging others to do so. Our dialogue coming from the facilitator’s lab continues virtually, so we are a virtual community. To be a successful virtual community requires some pre-requisites that must be addressed early by members to jointly agree how we create a sustainable community, including how we include new members and say goodbye to any exiting members.
Communities of Practice are common within a range of industries and professional groups. One role I had in a large government organisation had a community of practice of more than 300 people who were interested in project, program, portfolio and change management. This group were the first to hear about changes in the literature, research, methods and tools and also were brought together to share learnings in half-day mini conferences and learning opportunities. This community of practice had a common charter or set of principles that outlined its purpose and structure. Joining the community was voluntary.
To me, building a sustainable community comes from agreeing on a focus and set of principles, participating, sharing, and above all respecting and appreciating difference. It needs to be sustainable. It may involve an active few members in the start but the idea is a community grows and morphs as it needs to be about more than the few. It needs to flex and change to the needs of its members around a common purpose e.g. learning, or being part of something bigger, or being connected to a particular cause. Membership may be voluntary but may need to be also exclusive based on the entry requirements.
What community are you involved with? How about starting a community and building it into something bigger?