Better To Be Community-Driven Or Community-Powered?
It’s more important to be powered than driven by a community.
In community driven, members drive the behaviors of the organisation. By some definitions, customers identify as members and the goal of the organisation is to strengthen and support the community.
You can probably spot the two obvious problems.
First, how many companies do you feel you are a member of right now? 2? 5? Taking a spot poll amongst some friends this morning, the answer is 0. Did you wake up with a strong urge this morning to increase that number? Probably not.
Second, if you let members drive the wheel, we’re reminded of Henry Ford’s (probably apocryphal) quote about getting faster horses instead of Model T cars. Or, to use a modern example, you get Boaty McBoatface. Your audiences simply don’t share the same goals, expertise, or understanding of the constraints as you do.
For example, let’s say you announce you’re going to depreciate a product feature because it’s built upon outdated technology/processes. If the feature is popular, the entire community might rise up against you doing it. Do you back down because you’re community-driven? Generally speaking, communities always want you to spend more, create better products, while they pay less.
I’m far more excited about organisations which are community-powered. This is a pragmatic approach. It recognises customers generally don’t identify as members. Instead they participate to satisfy their immediate needs (usually for information and to highlight things they want to change). A handful will also feel the urge to help others. You can use the activities and insights which take place within these communities to support all parts of your organisation (sales, marketing, customer support, success, product/engineering) – but you always retain control of the wheel.
In community-driven, the goal of the company is to build a better community.
In community-powered, the goal of the community is to build a better company
Perhaps it is semantics, but I suspect the latter will prove far more successful than the former.