Document Your Failures (to create a guide for the next person)
Last month, I noticed a former client launching an event series very similar to a failed experiment from 3 years ago.
Another recently changed their web design to a version very similar to one which underperformed in nearly every metric.
When asked, both told the same story. The community team had moved on since our collaboration. The new team didn’t know what had or hadn’t been tried before. The former had documented our work but it hadn’t reached the new team. The latter hadn’t documented anything.
These aren’t rare occurrences. I’ve seen several communities repeating the same failed tactics every couple of years.
But if you don’t know what has or hasn’t been tried before, you can easily come up with ideas that sound great but have been shown to fail.
New community staff need a guide to the community. They need to know it’s history. They need to know that the visible community they see is the outcome of a long-running process of trial and error.
Communities are the outcome of an ongoing and iterative process of trial and error. Part of your legacy isn’t just going to be the community, but the documentation you leave behind outlining the decisions you’ve made and why.
If people who come after you don’t know what did and didn’t work, they might repeat the same mistakes over and over again.