Lessons for Building Quality, Thriving Communities

It Is and Has Always Been

One of the most important lessons that came from my time in Thailand was how in order to grow a solid community, you needed to be in the middle of it. The man who originally set-up the volunteer center to which we all arrived was a local who lived on the other side of the island. Since he was a family man, he made the trip to and from the volunteer center back to his house every night and morning. I can understand why he would, considering he had a nice comfortable home only 30 min away… but what happened in his absence almost tore the whole thing apart.

In the early days of a community’s growth, things change very rapidly. Because the group itself has only existed a short time and the early participants often cycle through in short spurts of time… there is no institutional memory. To the person who arrived this morning, we’ve always had a rule about eating lunch at 11:30… nevermind that we only made that rule up the night before. But to that new volunteer, who will in one week be an old timer to many more new people… it has always been so.

Within a week of showing up and seeing first hand the constant transition of ideas, cultures and people in our volunteer community… there was growing dissent about the so-called leader of our group who was never around and nobody knew what exactly he did. To them, he did nothing. Since they woke up in the middle of it all, went to work all day in it and laid down to sleep in the middle of it… this guy had no idea about anything.

Having since been the leader of a volunteer group, there are many things that go on above the ground that are not glamorous or all that fun… but are needed in order for the community to continue growing. For a leader, it is a constant balance of getting his head above the crowd to deal with long-term growth things while at the same time spending time shoulder-to-shoulder with the community.

It could be the community in your five-person workplace, your blog readership or even a massive web community… but the lessons still apply.

Stay tuned for daily Lessons on how to Building Quality, Thriving Communities.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.alohastartups.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Darius_profile.png[/author_image] [author_info]FBI, founder of the design community COLOURlovers and co-founder and board member of the All Hands Volunteers international charitable organization. Alumni of Y Combinator and mentor with 500 Startups. @bubs[/author_info] [/author]

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