Saturday, October 10, 2009

Community is dead

Long live the Tribe – is what I say now after considering things of late. Why do I say this? I now see ‘community’ as merely something to belong to. It requires little effort apart from claiming ‘you belong’. There is no requirement to participate, there is no requirement to contribute. It seems that many people who consider themselves part of a ‘community’ in fact simply view it as an opportunity to receive.

 

Conversely, I see a ‘tribe’ as something that requires active participation. I see it as something that involves sharing skills and abilities in a way that benefits all. In short it not only requires active membership but also active participation. The strength of the tribe comes from the skills and contributions of its members, where the perceived strength of a ‘community’ merely comes from its size.

 

To me a ‘tribe’ is far more focused than the broad base that a ‘community’ seems to refer to. After some recent interactions with the ‘SBS community’ I now really believe that it has become fare too broad to accommodate all the members it has. Although many believe it is this size that makes it strong I would actually content that it is exactly this size that it weakening it, making it harder to provide direction and reach consensus.

 

I would also contend that a major difference between a ‘tribe’ and a ‘community’ is that a ‘tribe’ is lead while a ‘community’ is merely about following. It seems to me that the ‘SBS community’ is struggling with this very issue. Although there are plenty of willing members, there seems to be very few who are actually prepared to lead, to forge a direction (even if it is incorrect) and generally move with the times. Instead there seems to be a never ending battle to achieve consensus in a ‘community’ that is now far too diverse to possibly achieve this.

 

Recently I was looking for an opportunity to meet with members of the ‘SBS community’ in the UK. I sent numerous emails to ‘key’ individuals seeking simply to have a chat about the SMB business in the UK. Although I was happy enough just to chat I would have also been happy enough to share my SharePoint experience as a contribution for the commitment people might make. I was disappointed to find that only 2 individuals took up this opportunity to meet with me. Both of these individuals put themselves out to meet me in a place convenient to me not them and for that I have nothing but thanks and appreciation.

 

Happily I can say that these two meetings were more than worthwhile from my point of view and will provide a positive impact for my business going forward. I certainly hope that I was able to oblige them with something in return.

 

I have nothing against the concept of ‘community’ per se, but I believe that it just isn’t relevant any more because it is too broad. My aim is to seek out successful ‘tribes’ and join them by actively contributing to their goals and members. I am disappointed that many people still wish to remain part of a ‘community’ but I am glad that a few see the benefits of making a contribution beyond this into becoming a ‘tribe’.