It Doesn’t Have To Be Neat, It Just Has To Work

A recent client wanted dozens of people to run small groups of 50 to 75 people in different territories around the world.

They had identified 50 possible leaders and invited each of them to form a Slack group.

It’s a neat solution, the main channel kept all the leaders connected and members could then find the right sub-channel for them.

Alas, the neatest solution is rarely the best solution. A handful of people gave it a shot but they soon lost interest.

It’s very hard to attract and retain active leaders if you’re trying to exert control over what technology they use, how they manage the community, and how they can engage the audience. Neatness and autonomy don’t play well together.

More importantly, the people you want to run groups (especially local groups) know far better than you what’s likely to work, what technology their audience will respond to, and how to run the groups. You can equip them with knowledge, but you can’t exert control.

We took a different approach. First, we encouraged leaders to use whichever tools they felt would work best. Next, we began asking how we can support them instead of asking them to support us. A handful said they didn’t need any support, a few asked for promotion, and a couple wanted some advice to keep members engaged.

It’s still early days, but there are now 20+ active groups (instead of just 3 before) and the relationship with each leader is far less strained. It’s not a neat solution, but each leader has far more autonomy and receives exactly the support they need.

P.S. Speaking at Khoros Engage in Austin this week. Tickets available here.

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