Discovering community in all its many forms is among the most
important and powerful tools for any creator, innovator, or
Launching a new idea or business isn’t easy. Ever. That much at
least we know and acknowledge. But it’s also not a solo effort.
As individual creators and entrepreneurs, we instinctively
believe we bear the full weight of responsibility for bringing
the new and wonderful to life. And we’re dead wrong. In fact
it’s this belief perhaps more than any other that raises the
odds that your brilliant, groundbreaking dream won’t come true.
The fact is, successful innovation is the job of the many, not
the few. Indeed there are countless roles to be filled before,
during, and after the ideating, far too many for any one person
to sustain. It all adds up to the one thing every
groundbreaking creator not only needs, but must actively seek
out and cultivate: community.
What community is not
As important as what community is and can do is to understand
what community is not. Community isn’t something you buy. It’s
something you earn. You build it not in a single stroke, but
bit by bit, and the more you put into it, the more it returns.
Community doesn’t come ready-made either. It’s something you
cultivate. It’s not a fixed place you go and only when you have
problems. It’s fluid, ever changing, and reciprocal. If
community was something you could buy, bargain for, or borrow,
it would fail to serve your shifting needs on the roller
coaster ride that is creativity, innovation, and growth.
5 Powerful Forms of Community
We need community. But we too often fail to find what we need
in part because we see community in narrow ways, and in part
because we don’t know what to look for. In truth, community
comes in many different forms. The following 5 types will help
you see community differently, and find the very thing you need
innovate with lasting impact.
1. One-to-One Community. Problem solving and
the search for community aren’t just connected, they also often
fall into the same trap: looking for a single solution from a
single source. In truth, both are an accumulation of smaller
parts. Indeed different people are usually necessary to address
different aspects of a problem or project. That’s where
one-to-one community comes in. Rather than simply gather
people, or turn to the ones who just tell you what you want to
hear, One-to-one community is about seeking out people who can
actually bring particular value for a particular need. For
one-to-one to work, it’s important to remember two other
things: community is an every-shifting pool in which the
one-to-one pairings change; and while you may think of it as a
place to ‘get’, it’s equally important to proactively treat it
as a place to which you give. This reciprocation is precisely
what makes it communal.
2. Borderless Community. When it comes to
community, it’s important to think outside your zone. In fact,
that really is the value of community – it goes beyond you. Be
it your postal zone or the sometimes limiting zone defined by
the people we see or communicate with every day, it’s easy to
gravitate towards staying within our own borders. But it’s
beyond those borders where better answers and fresh perspective
await. Whether it’s an online forum, a webinar or podcast, or
simply turning to smart people outside your own sector, when
you see community as borderless it becomes a more powerful
source of new ideas.
3.Spontaneous Community. Our default is to
think of community not just as bordered, but also as more
permanent than it really is. Increasingly, community is
something that comes together just for a short time and a
focused reason. There’s a freeing power in this knowledge.
Think of crowdsourcing and crowd funding as just two examples
of how it is possible to come together communally around a need
today, and part ways, even compete against one another
tomorrow. Logos get designed this way. Even entire ventures are
funded and supported like this, to get going, even ongoing. The
range of possibility in spontaneous community is vast.
4. Established Community. While one-to-one,
borderless, and spontaneous communities might have you looking
away from a more traditional view of community, don’t let it
keep you from taking note of existing communities that exist
around other successful ideas or ventures and emulating what
they do well. Sometimes we fail to find what we need because we
don’t know what we need. By discovering the nature of
communities that successful existing ventures rely on, you’re
immediately in a position to better see what you need yourself.
Established communities can be modeled or even piggy backed.
All you have to do is deliberately look around.
5. Consciously Cultivated Community. Once you
know them, and once you open your eyes to the many forms
community can take, you naturally start to see how community as
a powerful, shape-shifting elixir. But in the end, community is
an exercise in assessing your own capabilities and needs.
What’s most important is to consciously cultivate ‘your own’
community, not just once, but perpetually. Even once
established, community isn’t something ever find fully formed
or single-sized. You must constantly and thoughtfully tend it.
You can learn more about community in the award-winning book
Deliberate Pause: Entrepreneurship and its Moment in Human