Crammed into a recent short volume by Richard Millington titled The Indispensable Community is insight from 100-plus interviews. It is a fast read, told not just through facts, but also memorable stories.
It tracks the rise and fall of a range of online communities, and sets out actionable frameworks that you can pick up and run with.
Some of the perhaps counterintuitive insights are:
- You’re probably measuring your communities in all the wrong ways.
- Communities can be great, but they may not be the right tool.
- Yes, there is a case for killing off communities rather than just letting them linger.
Because defunct (or dysfunctional) communities detract from your organization’s brand.
That said, ultimately the book is about building things up rather than tearing them down. Practical ideas that can help you build brand value—and get buy-in in the boardroom. And while that is not an easy endeavor, it is easier to learn from others than to make all the mistakes yourself.
The author’s key argument is that “Indispensable communities—the kind both organizations and their members would struggle to live without—don’t just appear through serendipitous luck. They are cultivated through a deliberate set of choices, a big vision, and a huge amount of persistence.”
Why this, why now?
My interest in this topic goes back to the days when I was one of the many people who found solutions to a range of technical challenges on various Usenet groups. That platform was first thought up in 1979, almost 40 years ago, and survived well into the ‘90s. It was eventually superseded, and while Millington draws on more recent communities, the conclusions he draws appear to be timeless:
“The real value of a community isn’t what tiny percentage of members contribute,...
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