A community is a group of people. And they can get angry...

SDL Community Open

Yesterday I saw a video of a British comedian, Michael McEntyre about parenting with the title "You have NO IDEA!". As it so happens I held a week long series of events this week nicely called SDL Community Open. I felt a striking similarity with this rant about parenting and those that embark on a journey to grow a community.

A community is a group of people...

I have been doing this now for some 10 years and the most striking perception 'mistake' is that most people now have an association with a community as something being digital, supported by some platform and containing a database of emails with which you may want to do some gamification points and leaderboards. This then must lead hopefully to achieving some business goal via an equally digital dashboard with some fancy KPI's (There, I said it). I venture to say that when you solely work like that, you really do not have a community but just a collection of people that seem to have something in common but do not really know each other.

Fortunately the word 'community' is as old as humanity and before we all went digital a community was - and still is - a group of people.

And they can get angry...

People have emotions. Positive and negative emotions. Usually the reason to start and grow a community is to harness that energy and make the marriage work again. So, especially when you start, you can expect people to be angry. Depending on how long this has been going on and how severe some situations have been in the past you can expect some really big emotions.

So, here we are. We all have a different perception of reality. And that perception itself is first a new reality that we will need to deal with. Regardless of what the facts are and what the logic is of common sense, we first need to deal with the emotion.

And it is good...

I've learned in my first year that those that fight you, care as much as you do. So instead of becoming part of the problem by adding to the polarization, it requires some mental resilience to not be dragged into the trap you are trying to solve. The SDL Community Open was about opening up and specifically allow for emotions to become visible and map out the energy in your community and look for the way out. Especially when you truly embark on growing a community, you need to clean up and step out of your own shadow.

We = You & Me

We share a common goal: Customer Success. So, somewhere down the line we owe it to our customers to clean up our angryness and get with the program. In my previous blog I already mentioned that 'we' at SDL have proclaimed a strategy that "We = You & Me". That is already a tall order inside SDL. It requires a lot of change which we now see indeed happening. Our angry community members however must realize that "We = You & Me" also applies to them. Not because I say so, but because we owe it to our customers to serve them best. Because we have this common goal that we are passionate about. The SDL Community Open was designed to make people aware of this and to start repairing the marriage we got into many year ago. Long before I joined SDL. Only when we solve this, we can have some meaningful dashboard about engagements with some nice management KPI's.

In the mean time we will be working on positive ways for our community members to be able to say: Indeed, "We = You & Me"  without me putting a gun to their head.