Why Do Communities Matter?

Wendell_Berry_525Photo by Guy Mendes

I’ve just finished reading “What Are People For?”, a collection of essays by Wendell Berry. I don’t always agree with everything Wendell Berry has to say, but I certainly feel like a wiser and better person for having reflected on his point of view.

One of my favorite essays in the book was “The Work of Local Culture”. There were two quotes in the essay about the responsibilities of a community which I thought were worth sharing with all of you, who are helping to build communities in your firms.

The first is about building a shared memory. The second is about building trust. And as you’ll see, the two are related.

Communities Build Shared Memory

“However small a landmark the old bucket is, it is not trivial. It is one of the signs by which I know my country and myself. And to me it is irresistibly suggestive in the way it collects leaves and other woodland shed dings as they fall through time. It collects stories, too, as they fall through time. It is irresistibly metaphorical. It is doing in a passive way what a human community must do actively and thoughtfully. A human community, too, must collect leaves and stories, and turn them to account. It must build soil, and build that memory of itself—in lore and story and song—that will be its culture. These two kinds of accumulations, of local soil and culture, are intimately related.”

Communities Build Trust

“For example, when a community loses its memory, its members no longer know one another. How can they know one another if they have forgotten or have never learned one another’s stories? If they don’t know one another’s stories, how can they know whether or not to trust one another? People who do not trust one another do not help one another, and moreover they fear one another.”

Shared Memory and Trust Lead to Helpful Community Members

Sometimes I think it is easy to get lost in engagement tactics and product features (how to build communities) and lose sight of the big picture (why communities matter).

Building shared memory and trust so that community members will help one another is a pretty good answer to the question of “Why do communities matter?” in my book.

Posted: October 22nd, 2014 | Filed under: Quotable | Comments Off on Why Do Communities Matter?

KA Connect 2014 Talks Now Available Online

The talks from KA Connect 2014 are now available online.

Enjoy.

Posted: July 28th, 2014 | Filed under: General | Comments Off on KA Connect 2014 Talks Now Available Online

What makes for a great community manager?

Vanessa DiMauro gave a great talk at KA Connect 2014 called “Secrets of Great Communities and Community Managers.” Vanessa is uniquely qualified to speak to this topic. Her company, Leader Networks, specializes in helping businesses build deeper relationships with key stakeholders like clients, members, and employees through digital B2B communities.

In her talk, Vanessa shared 5 things that great communities and community managers do well. Vanessa’s talk will be up on the KA Connect website (along with all the other talks from the conference) in a few weeks. In the interim, here are Vanessa’s five secrets:

#1: Great online communities are strategic.
#2: Great online communities develop a 90-day plan, every 90 days.
#3: People come for content and stay for community.
#4: When online communities become great, the members take control.
#5: Great online communities demonstrate tangible value over time.

You can find more detail in this blog post. Anything to add?

Posted: July 10th, 2014 | Filed under: General | Comments Off on What makes for a great community manager?

Now that’s what I call a positioning statement.

Bookshop Positioning Statement

This small, yellow, folded piece of paper was placed on top of my wife’s order from BOOK/SHOP. I love the close:

“These are the people we’re working for.”

Perfect.

Posted: May 19th, 2014 | Filed under: Quotable | Comments Off on Now that’s what I call a positioning statement.

“Start with a box.” Or, the best advice I’ve ever read on organizing creative ideas.

The Creative Habit

The following is an excerpt from The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp’s amazing book on creativity:

 

Everyone has his or her own organizational system. Mine is a box, the kind you can buy at Office Depot for transferring files. I start every dance with a box. I write the project name on the box, and as the piece progresses I fill it up with every item that went into the making of the dance. This means notebooks, news clippings, CDs, videotapes of me working alone in my studio, videos of the dancers rehearsing, books and photographs and pieces of art that may have inspired me.

[…]

There are separate boxes for everything I’ve ever done. If you want a glimpse into how I think and work, you could do worse than to start with my boxes.

The box makes me feel organized, that I have my act together even when I don’t know where I’m going yet.

It also represents a commitment. The simple act of writing a project name on the box means I’ve started work.

The box makes me feel connected to a project. It is my soil. I feel this even when I’ve back-burnered a project: I may have put the box away on a shelf, but I know it’s there. The project name on the box in bold black lettering is a constant reminder that I had an idea once and may come back to it very soon.

Most important, though, the box means I never have to worry about forgetting. One of the biggest fears for a creative person is that some brilliant idea will get lost because you didn’t write it down and put it in a safe place. I don’t worry about that because I know where to find it. It’s all in the box…”

 
I first read The Creative Habit back in 2008 and have been following her advice to “start with a box” ever since. My ideas for new products, features, conference speakers, and blog posts all go in “boxes”, which are Basecamp projects for me. I know my ideas are safe and sound in the box, out of my head so I can focus on the work at hand.

When it is time to start working on that product, feature, conference, or post, I always look forward to opening up the box, because by then I’ve completely forgotten the notes I put inside.

One of the benefits of this approach is that when I do eventually open up the box, I get to enjoy the idea all over again. (Assuming it is good. If not, I get a good laugh from the fact I ever thought the idea was worth writing down.)

I was in the process of filing ideas for a new product into a box when I decided to share this. I hope you found it useful and consider reading The Creative Habit.

You won’t regret it.

Posted: May 7th, 2014 | Filed under: General, Quotable | Comments Off on “Start with a box.” Or, the best advice I’ve ever read on organizing creative ideas.

ARCHITECT Magazine’s R+D Awards Call For Entries: Submissions Due April 18

ARCHITECT R+D Awards

Many member firms of the KA Connect community are investing in R+D. If you haven’t seen it, ARCHITECT Magazine has been running an annual R+D awards program for the last eight years. Here’s a short summary of the program:

“To celebrate the building technologies that are revolutionizing the process and product of architecture, ARCHITECT magazine announces its eighth annual R+D Awards program. The awards honor innovative design and systems at every scale—from entire buildings to building systems, discrete products and materials, and digital tools such as software, cloud-based platforms, and mobile apps. The R+D Awards welcome entries of all types to encourage the broadest possible dialogue among architects, engineers, manufacturers, researchers, students, and designers of all disciplines.”

More information about the award program’s rules and regulations and past award winners is available on the ARCHITECT site.

Good luck!

Posted: April 3rd, 2014 | Filed under: General | Comments Off on ARCHITECT Magazine’s R+D Awards Call For Entries: Submissions Due April 18

“Tweeting is easier than blogging.”

So says Fred Wilson, author of AVC, one of the most widely-read tech blogs. So why does he still blog?

That was topic of his post this morning. Here’s the short answer:

“So why have I continued to blog every day when plenty of people have moved to tweeting and get similar benefits? Well for one, I am a creature of habit and routine and hate breaking things that are working for me. And second, I like to work things out on the page. It’s a puzzle to me. 140 characters is a challenge but ten paragraphs is a bigger challenge. And finally, because you can express yourself more fully in a blog post than a tweet (or a tweet stream).”

His second point really resonated with me. Writing is a powerful way to discover what I really think about something, especially when I write first thing, before my mind has a chance to get cluttered with other people’s ideas.

A few years ago, my wife Denise introduced me to the concept of morning pages from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way.

In short, the idea of morning pages is to write in your journal at the beginning of each and every day, even if you have nothing to say, nothing to figure out. Just write. At least a page. Sometimes it will be worthless. That’s fine. You will just accept it. But more often than not something will emerge after a few pages—perhaps the solution to a problem you’ve been wrestling with, or perhaps even a solution to a problem you weren’t even conscious of. It works. It’s magical. You should try it.

As much as I love Twitter, and I do, I agree with Fred that while 140 characters is a challenge, writing blog posts is ultimately a more gratifying experience because I end up learning more about myself and the world around me.

That’s why I still blog. How about you?

Posted: April 3rd, 2014 | Filed under: General | Comments Off on “Tweeting is easier than blogging.”

Introducing KA Connect Books

KA Connect Books

We talk about books quite a bit in the KA Connect community, both online and at our conferences. The team at Knowledge Architecture is constantly asked for book recommendations on a variety of topics—from knowledge management to research to thought leadership.

I have been wanting to put together a KA Connect book list for a while now. Last week, one of our clients posted a request for a list of knowledge management books in our client community, which was the final nudge I needed. I went through my bookshelf, my Kindle, old blog posts and presentations, as well as KA Connect talks and LinkedIn Group discussions to pull together version 1.0 of KA Connect Books, which you can find here:

http://www.ka-connect.com/books.php

Some of the books in this list are new. Some are old. Some are AEC-specific. Others are more general in nature. The unifying factor of the collection is that these are books we have read over and over. Books we use in our practice. Books we recommend again and again.

I hope you enjoy them.

Posted: February 13th, 2014 | Filed under: General | Comments Off on Introducing KA Connect Books

Top 10 KA Connect LinkedIn Discussions of 2013

2013 was another strong year for the KA Connect LinkedIn Group, with dozens of conversations on a variety of topics. Yet when we looked at the discussions which generated the most comments, it was clear that the dominant topics last year were Marketing & Communications, Research & Innovation, and Talent & Career Development.

I certainly enjoyed looking back at the top discussions from last year. I hope you will too. And here’s to another vibrant year of connecting in 2014!

Marketing & Communications

Research & Innovation

Talent & Career Development

Bonus Round

Not already a member of the KA Connect LinkedIn Group? Join us.

Posted: January 9th, 2014 | Filed under: General | Comments Off on Top 10 KA Connect LinkedIn Discussions of 2013

Does your company actually need data visualization?

Great article on the HBR blog this week about data visualization by KA Connect member Bill Shander. My takeaway from the article is that all companies could benefit from data visualization, but some need it more than others.

In Bill’s words, “companies selling complex solutions to complex problems should embrace the power of data visualization.”

What do you think? Could your firm benefit from data visualization? How so?

Join the conversation on the KA Connect LinkedIn Group.

Posted: November 21st, 2013 | Filed under: General | Comments Off on Does your company actually need data visualization?