What Does It Take to Nurture an Online Community? PEOPLE!

Nonprofit/Community Benefit Organization Consultants Facebook Group Meeting #3

 On February 9, 2017, members of the Facebook Group Nonprofit / Community Benefit Organization Consultants continued exploring what it takes to nurture an online community. A project of Creating the Future, this Facebook group has more than 500 members, each of whom in some way serves the community benefit sector as a consultant / coach / contractor. You can see the entire meeting right here:

In previous meetings, the group explored what the highest potential of this group could be, identifying who the participants in the group are, and what conditions would make it possible for this group to be part of their reaching their highest potential.

From these previous meetings, a single new condition emerged, to be added to the conditions that already exist:

Participants know how to tap into the group, in order to achieve whatever it is they want to do.

What does this mean?

At the February 2017 meeting, we explored what goes into creating that condition. With a variety of voices in the virtual room, from consulting newcomers to long-time practitioners, and from newcomers to the Facebook group to long-time denizens of the community, we listened to and learned from each other.

Each time we recognized a pre-condition that needs to be in place, we also explored the pre-pre-conditions that would make that possible.

The conversation was rich, and moved from participant empowerment – and what people would need to know/ feel/ believe/ understand/ have in order to feel empowered; to the specific roles – and what people would need to know/ feel/ believe/ understand/ have in order to take on those roles; to the role of Catalytic Thinking – and what would need to be in place for participants to understand that role.

Ultimately, we began exploring what roles there are for participants to take on, and what would make it possible for people to feel comfortable and willing to step into those roles.

Our next step is to explore –

What are the INTERNAL conditions that need to be in place, so we can take the actions that will lead to individuals stepping up and saying, “I’ll try!” What actions will create the conditions that invite this exploration?

 Join us on Monday, April 3, 2017 – 3:00 – 5:00pm Eastern (noon – 3:00pm Pacific) to be part of this discussion. No previous experience in the group is necessary! All members of the Facebook Group are welcome!

 RSVP at this link, and we will send you the URL so you can meet us there on Monday, 4/3. Can’t wait to see you there. 


Want more details? Here are the Conditions, Pre-Conditions, and Pre-pre-Conditions that emerged in the February meeting! 

Participants know how to tap into the group, in order to achieve whatever it is they want to do.

What did the participants determine needed to be in place for members of the community to be able to tap into the group knowledge and experience?

Conditions that need to be in place for this to become reality:

  • Participant empowerment: to share our own stories and to reach into the basket and pull out what we need.
  • A welcoming and inviting environment; demonstration of the power of sharing and engaging in a dialogue
  • Participants who are committed and show up
  • Explicit education on how different ways of asking questions elicit different types of responses (Catalytic Thinking)
  • Shared values
  • Facilitators and Hosts who are comfortable and inviting
  • Participants across a broad range of age, experience, expertise, background, geography

What are the pre-conditions for success?

Participants know each other and are aware of EVERYONE, because it’s always about the relationships

  • People are introduced and we can find them and their expertise
    • there is a mapping of the participants – geographic and interests
    • we tap into the power of Facebook for finding people
  • There are individuals willing to reach out, host, invite, welcome others
    • someone to introduce you to others.
  • Everyone has an awareness of the entirety of the community
  • There are intentional and explicit welcomes for quiet followers (formerly known as lurkers)
  • There are explicit opportunities for individuals to connect
    • There are virtual ‘happy hours’ that anyone can attend
      • Invitations with ‘Here’s what to expect’
      • Individuals to host and facilitate
    • There are ‘big question’ conversations
      • Questions are broad and invite week-long asynchronous conversations
      • Facilitators who understand the Catalytic Framework
    • There is a program of lunch buddies
      • Invitations to anyone to have a lunch buddy
    • Brag Basket continues

Participants are explicitly and intentionally given information so they know what to expect

  • Explicit information about how you can participate, here’s what you can expect:
    • A newbie page
    • An orientation guide to explain and help participants find their way into the knowledge & experience
    • A one page orientation: 10 things to get acclimated to the group, e.g. about the Brag Basket; bringing out the best in each other
    • FAQ – frequently asked questions; IAQ – infrequently asked questions.
  • AND a human who privately welcomes each new person
    • Someone to send a message that welcomes the new person, with the guidelines and an invitation to a happy hour
    • A team of welcomers/lunch buddies
  • A community calendar with all types of things that are going on
  • Contact lists for the tech team, host team, interactive calendar
  • A process for making Catalytic frameworks explicit
    • Multiple programs to explain catalytic thinking
      • Opportunities to teach catalytic thinking on different levels
        • Live programs/Zoom around catalytic thinking
        • Explore technology tools to make the content more accessible [The brain‚ software- www.thebrain.com- Jerry’s Brain – www.jerrysbrain.com-. The brain software – dynamic mind map.]
      • Catalytic thinking videos about creating the future and times to come together to talk about it.
      • Collections of stories told by all of us –
        • a youtube channel – a few minutes of somebody talking about here’s my story about being a host, facilitator, lunch buddy. “I’m your fellow community member”
          • frame the story with an invitation. close with contact info.
        • Individuals to collect and curate the stories
      • Explicit conversation and examples of catalytic thinking.
        • Pulling back the curtain on why it works
        • How the practices in the group can be taken outside the group.
        • Invitations for people to experiment with it in their lives and bring it back to the group
      • Individuals who frame conversations through the lens of catalytic thinking
      • Individuals who find opportunities to explicitly reference catalytic thinking in discussions

What are the pre-pre-conditions for the above

Individuals willing to step up into these roles:

  • Someone to collect and coordinate and edit the little videos
  • Curator
  • Archivist – there’s a lot of learning
  • Sherpas – hosts
  • Instructors of Catalytic Thinking models
  • Technical instructors
  • Big Question hosts
  • Developers of the FAQ/IAQ documents
  • Welcomers: host/guide/welcoming partner to acclimate new people
  • ‘Lunch buddies’
  • Welcomers to quiet followers (formerly known as lurkers).

To step into these roles, what do ALL participants need to feel/understand/believe/have?

  • To know that those roles exist
  • Clear invitation
  • Clear expectations of what it would take. [We’re not prescribing the roles, but here’s the thinking behind them.]
  • Understand the core values and core operating principles of the group
  • Conversation with someone; conversations around the opportunities
  • Role modeling
  • [The “first follower”]
  • To know it’s okay to be new at something
  • Opportunities to try it before making a long term commitment
    • people will step forward if it’s defined period of time.
    • co-facilitate for a month?

To step into the role of welcomers/lunch buddies, what do people need to be confident to set up the one-to-one discussion

  • Have to feel they can reach out
  • Knowing the myriad ways people can participate.
  • Feeling of safety, not judged, critiqued, etc.
  • Have to feel welcomed, safe, respected.
  • A mindset to be part of and willing to step out.

To step into the role of video host, what do people need to feel comfortable hosting/being in/technically facilitating a video meet-up

  • Zoom – people need to feel comfortable with the tool
  • People to be sherpas: including hosting and access to be able to host
  • Instructors to teach the tool
  • Many facilitators, in different time zones or night owls

To step into the role of Navigator of the Rich Question, what do people need to know/ believe/ feel/ understand?

  • Facilitator can identify a “big question” from regular participation
  • To understand catalytic thinking and questions that bring out the best
  • To understand how to engage and encourage many voices
  • To have hosting guidelines e.g., these are catalytic questions; objectives for a week long conversation
  • A coordinator of the weekly question
  • A sherpa to assist the weeklong questions

 If you have more ideas, join us on Monday, April 3 right here: https://www.facebook.com/events/615091502013149/

Questions? I’m happy to answer them!  [email protected]

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