The fall colors in Boulder are amazing. I took this photo after a 10-minute drive from downtown yesterday. I love it here.
So now, a big idea. Perhaps.
I’m really interested in companies’ obsession with culture and first hires. The culture drives the ability to attract and retain top talent. Most (successful) companies have worked years on developing their identity.
I don’t think there is anything grand about those statements.
So take out the word “company” and put in “community.” Try that again.
- Communities obsess over culture (good ones do).
- The community drives the ability to attract and retain top talent. You bet.
- Most communities have worked years on developing their identity.
So the last line feels odd. Communities, as tech and startup communities are concerned, are led generally by volunteer efforts.
Let’s look at the BarCamp movement (which is what got me into tech). It was company culture seeping out and driving community culture by people that stepped up and volunteered. They wanted to see that change in their community, and they were the best people they knew to do it.
Look at Startup Weekend and Ignite organizers as well. Not too much benefit for the organizers compared to the work and risk involved. But the events happen. And the events make a lot of peoples’ lives drastically better. The community abides.
See what I’m getting at?
Community culture management or development is highly important to the healthy infrastructure we want to see, and nobody seems to be doing it.
How does that happen, especially in cities like Boulder, Colorado?
We have worked on community for years. A town of 100,000 hosts the largest Ignite and TEDx events in the world. How? Why? What does this really mean? 2% of the town shows up for these events. Think NYC can ever have 2% show up to a tech event or movement?
So that really is an aside. Numbers don’t matter, community does. How does a strong community improve the citizens and companies that make it up?
Or the big question:
Can community management be managed and fought for just like you would in a company?
Who leads that effort, and what structure does that have?
Something I’ve been thinking about more and more. Can we rely on an all-volunteer and self-organizing group to build a world-class community? In Boulder we have relied on volunteers and companies like TechStars that care about what the ecosystem looks like, not just their block.
So what are the problems we hear over and over?
- Moving to a new town – it might take you years to find your niche.
- It is hard to connect with people you don’t know, but should (while fighting off sales people).
- Hiring quality people is tough.
- Tech community leadership is funded by another company culture or by people with motives that don’t align with the community.
- Events don’t line up to my interests or expectations.
- I don’t have time to show up to many events.
- We don’t get respect.
I’m leaving that one open ended. Community problems are almost universal (and that list can be 1,000x longer).
So, what does the future look like?
I’m leaning toward an idea. A central community funded nonprofit (in methodology or incorporation) that works toward a goal of simply making the community better. Events, welcoming and reporting being the three big ways to make the group better. Sponsorship by larger companies looking to give back or a guild management system.
A Community Culture Company.
What do you think? Worth giving it a go?