I spent two weeks in San Francisco interviewing 20+ community professionals from companies big and small. They split into two separate groups.
Group one were largely from the start-up sector. They had a strong level of internal support for the community. The CEO believed community was important and core principles trickled down. Most CEOs in this sector were more worried about sustaining attention than profit. Let’s call these the ‘blind faithers’. They trust the community is essential to relationships and keeping an audience’s attention.
Group two were outside of tech. They struggled to get internal support or understand their community. They are dealing with bosses and CEOs with limited resources and trying to allocate those limited resources to maximize impact. Multiple departments were using all possible means to get the resources they needed (or just wanted). They needed to see the impact of community. Let’s call these the ‘hard evidencers’.
The challenge dealing with a ‘blind faith’ CEO isn’t getting resources, but understanding their vision. This can be difficult when they don’t know themselves. Is it customer support? Innovation? Raving advocates?
Most problems that arose in this group came from not taking the time up early on to truly understand what a community means to them and what they’re working towards. They felt awkward about challenging or helping frame the goal.
The challenge with ‘hard evidence’ CEOs is building up relationships around them (they’re highly influenced by peers), creating case studies of success, and finding ever more ways for the community to deliver more value (being a nimble way to test ideas usually helps).
You already know which type of company you’re working in. So match your actions accordingly.
p.s. I’m speaking at several events in Israel this and next week. Most are private, but you can join this one if you’re in the area.