Communities Of Interest

Someone used Communities Of Interest to describe the many civic and social groups they support. A lovely term…until I started to think about it.

I came to the conclusion that there are few, if any, communities of interest.
The people who support projects are in it for WIIFM. “What’s In It For Me?” As long as the group provides enough value, the supporters continue to contribute.
My new realization was that every person in a group probably has a different definition of WIIFM.
The Internet disintermediates (takes out the intermediaries or intermediate tasks) required for the administrivia of some groups. Setting up a new group gives an opportunity to streamline the processes and reduce the effort required to operate the organization. In other groups, administrivia can become the main reason the survivors stay together.
The enlightened navigator of a community of interest needs to provide enough rewards to allow the group to thrive. That means tolerating the needs of as many of the people who perform as possible.
I’ve wormed my way on to several boards by inventing and supplying recurring services to the members that were later replaced by technology. Several times, the work was not continued, leading to a fast rightsizing of the group.
It’s much easier to scale down than to ramp up.
A thriving group attracts people to the warmth of getting things done. That doesn’t mean they perform for the group. Nor is one lack of performance a permanent condition. One of my favorite navigators spends a lot of time defining successful roles for his workers, his Scouts, his kids.
Fulfilling the role of the enlightened navigator is not a life sentence. I often use the promise of succession planning to get promising navigators to strengthen our offering in a new direction.
Groups follow a sine wave, of up, down, up, down. New efforts are prototypes, and they are infinitely improvable over time.
In golf, good shots come from experience. Experience comes from bad shots. However, good shot or bad shot, if you don’t strike the ball, it doesn’t move.
What is your best advice for improving a community of interest?

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