Stan Garfield posted an interesting Communities Manifesto that describes 10 principles of communities and goes some way toward differentiating between teams and communities. This is all based on his direct experience in the area. His description:
Communities are groups of people who, for a specific subject, share a specialty, role, passion, interest, concern, or a set of problems. Community members deepen their understanding of the subject by interacting on an ongoing basis, asking and answering questions, sharing information, reusing good ideas, solving problems for one another, and developing new and better ways of doing things.
I particularly like the sense here that the community is about people sharing common interests without need for specific deliverables. There may be a lot of reasons for those common interests in real-life communities, but the key thing that brings them together is that shared passion for their subject of choice.
The main space for discussion has been the SIKM Leaders group that Stan created several years ago. And that discussion has been one of the more interesting and involved on this particular mailing list. (The main focus of the group is to host monthly live phone discussions on a KM-related topic, but discussions will sometimes bubble amongst the membership.)
And those ten principles of communities? Please be sure to dive into the document, if you want to read more of his perspective and thoughts on these items.
- Communities should be independent of organization structure; they are based on what members want to interact on.
- Communities are different from teams; they are based on topics, not on assignments.
- Communities are not sites, team spaces, blogs or wikis; they are people who choose to interact.
- Community leadership and membership should be voluntary; you can suggest that people join, but should not force them to.
- Communities should span boundaries; they should cross functions, organizations, and geographic locations.
- Minimize redundancy in communities; before creating a new one, check if an existing community already addresses the topic.
- Communities need a critical mass of members; take steps to build membership.
- Communities should start with as broad a scope as is reasonable; separate communities can be spun off if warranted.
- Communities need to be actively nurtured; community leaders need to create, build, and sustain communities.
- Communities can be created, led, and supported using TARGETs: Types, Activities, Requirements, Goals, Expectations, Tools.
Thanks for this resource, Stan!
[Photo: "Frozen 085 Marius Watz: Sound memory (Oslo Rain Manifesto)" by Marius Watz]