Communities are attractive to companies and employees alike as a means of collaborating on tricky problems, sharing knowledge across the organization, and nurturing talent.
Nevertheless, creating a successful community is not easy. It takes more than a name, some meeting invitations, and a dedicated messaging channel for a community to come to life.
According to Aldis, Head of Technology Strategy, “most important for a successful community is a common shared interest in a specific topic. For example, data analysis or machine learning – or it could be even cooking”. Kaspars K, a member of the product management community, adds, “a clear purpose that resonates in the community will rally people behind it, and give them the motivation to go the extra mile”.
At Emergn, we look at community through four lenses:
- Global Belonging to the company; we are united behind our company mission of Improving the way people and companies work forever.
- Professional Belonging, based on our particular skill-set and expertise; through communities of practice, we can develop professionally.
- Local Belonging to our locations around the world; our local communities celebrate local identity, in line with local norms and traditions.
- Business Belonging. This is the sense of community we feel within our teams, with the people we work with every day.
A community needs to offer some value to its members and be deliberate about working to deliver that value to individuals. That value could be information-sharing through lectures and demos from other members or guest speakers. It can also play a networking role where people can meet others with similar interests and passions.
Emergn’s community leaders explain: For a community to be self-sustaining, it needs a core group of enthusiasts who feel empowered to self-organize and drive the community forward. They are the ones who are willing to put regular meet-ups in the calendar and send out reminders. You also need content creators who will prepare talks and create artifacts for members to take away with them, such as one-sentence summaries and key points on the topics covered.
A great community is built on exchange and participation, and each member has a role to play – whatever their level of knowledge. From the point of view of Emergn’s community leaders, they see their role as creating the right environment for this and making it clear that everyone’s experience is valuable. There is always something that others can learn from, and it will make the community more powerful.
They also play a key role in growing the community. According to Kaspars S, leader of the VFQ Coffee Break initiative, “the important thing for a community is to keep involving new people – introduction into this group is crucial, as people may not enjoy being ‘newbies'”. Liam, lead for the consultancy practice, strengthens his community by “finding talent and encouraging everyone to learn and share”.