The composition of the community as it turns out is really important – you need more than just a modern infrastructure of tools and a great product or service – you need the right people, committed to the overall goal of the community who are willing to look at the conversation, the content, the focus and partner and lead to allow it to flourish, grow, etc. What I mean is that you need special people with the secret sauce. Yes, that is correct – it’s not every ordinary day person that can be a community convener. You need professionally trained community builders who understand the fine balance between driving business results and honoring individual motivation and needs. This is the tight rope that is often very hard to balance.
This idea of developing, nurturing and cultivating communities work described by Etienne Wenger, Bill Snyder and Richard McDermott in the “Cultivating Communities” book is an excellent framework to consider. But what I’ve found when composing communities is that there is a great need for talent in what I call the “loom factory’, as you need to quickly hire master weavers to the team. Sounds easy right, well these people aren’t so easy to find. You need people who ‘give, give and give more’ according to Mike Dulworth, author of the Connect Effect ’. These people are great listeners who with ease and grace can welcome new community members, while educating, informing, sharing, encouraging and can invite new community members. For existing members they need to be able to facilitate online systems and tools, while challenge being able to facilitate in person workshops and challenge community members all at the same time.
The talent we look for as community composers are these individuals that are natural weavers of knowledge. They share outwards and bridge, they are social artists that can listen for and see new possibilities while understanding each community members’ personal needs and motivations. They live in a variety of digital habitats and have strong verbal and written communication competencies, as well as leadership, drive and passion. They are workhorses who strive to allow community members to accomplish goals or solve customer problems. They are generative in nature and have emotional intelligence. Master weavers bring people into to a new, warm inviting place – into a community of high value.
9 thoughts on “What does it take to be a master community weaver?”
What a wise post!
In my experience, community leaders are a leadership type all their own.
Specifically, community weavers are NOT bossy, judgmental, or have agendas. They do not make themselves the scarce resource. They do not control access, time, or message, though they will step in to resolve conflict or set and manage to community ground rules.
They ARE generous, available, and helpful. They put others’ needs ahead of their own “to a fault.”
They are successful in organizations to the extent that they also are great at noticing value and nurturing it along for the benefit of those who are providing it as well as the organization benefiting from its creation. Again, they do not have a hidden agenda; it’s all about creating a large, active community and finding those times and projects that benefit the organization.
A queen bee or a charismatic man are NEVER good community weavers; though they may lead communities who follow them. If the community is cohesive (rather than a bunch of unconnected people), you can bet there are one or more weavers in the community who have made it so.
I really appreciate this sophisticated and nuances articulation of what weavers do. I think the issue of balance is where the art is. Weaving is not training and not just meeting client needs. Its that delicate in-between space where we tap indinvidual energies for collective results.
Help me understand what you mean by “master?” What is your definition of a master community weaver? Help me understand the context further and we can dialogue further.
Thanks for pointing me at this post Lauren. I like the idea of ‘community composers’, and being ‘natural weavers of knowledge’. Some good language used throughout this post – now bookmarked for future reference!