I’m passionate about helping organizations develop more authentic, meaningful, and productive relationships with the communities around them. Last week, I suggested a few ideas for how to begin thinking about a less self-centered approach to community strategy that might help.
The evening after I wrote the post, I was taking a run around the neighborhood, listening to some tunes, when a song from the recent Avett Brothers live album came on. At the end of the song, someone in the audience must have screamed out “we love you” or something along those lines. The recording captures one of the two brothers (Seth, I think?) responding. Here’s what he said:
“We love you too. Sincerely. We’ve said it before. It’s real difficult to sound sincere on a microphone, but we love y’all too in a very big way.”
It’s real difficult to sound sincere on a microphone.
Man, isn’t that the truth.
In a few years, the Avett Brothers have gone from having a small fan base following them around here in my home state of North Carolina to selling out arenas around the world. In those words, you could almost sense the struggle. How do you broadcast a personal message to thousands of people while still remaining (and sounding) sincere.
Last fall, a group of researchers at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) released a study showing an abrupt leveling off in the number of editors and edits to Wikipedia, starting in about 2007.
There is a great summation of the findings in a set of posts by Dr. Ed H Chi, Lead Scientist at the PARC Augmented Social Cognition group here, here, here, and here.
I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few months about what might be causing the slowing rate of contributions, as have many others. I particularly liked Niel Robertson’s post last week on the Enterprise Irregulars site.
Niel’s thesis is that Wikipedia has failed to continue to develop innovative ways to motivate its community, falling behind as other communities and companies have implemented more creative new techniques. Niel goes on to identify seven types of motivation for crowdsourcing (yes, I still dislike that word) efforts, of which he says Wikipedia is only using a couple.
I think he is on to something. But Wikipedia is operating at a scale that dwarfs almost every other crowdsourcing effort in history. It takes a massive bureaucracy of editors and administrators to keep the whole thing going.
And if traditional bureaucracies (like those in governments and large companies) tend to stifle innovation, what happens in a bureaucracy where the bureaucrats aren’t getting paid and aren’t getting any recognition for their efforts?
From my point of view, this is Wikipedia’s next great challenge:
How does it convince the world to love and recognize its contributors?
[Read the rest of this article on opensource.com]
This week I was lucky enough to attend the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum in Palm Desert, CA. As you may recall, last year Red Hat Chairman Matthew Szulik was the national Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and later this week, he’ll hand over his title to the next entrepreneur in waiting. One of the most exciting things about the Strategic Growth Forum is that it brings together some of the smartest entrepreneurial minds in the world in one place, and this morning, I had an opportunity to hear from one of the best.
Howard Schultz, Chairman, President, and CEO of Starbucks, who won an Entrepreneur of the Year award in 1993, spoke about his experience leading Starbucks through the economic crisis. As Starbucks began going through hard times, Schultz, who had given up the CEO role in 2001 (while remaining Chariman), decided it was time to take back the CEO responsibilities himself in early 2008.
Why? He was worried that the distinct culture, mission, and values that had brought the company great success were eroding.
According to Schultz, he came back into an operational role because he felt that the way out of crisis was not a simple change in business strategy, but instead– in his words– “love and nurturing.” His key to turning things around was revitalizing the investment in his people, recommitting to the core purpose of the organization and providing employees with hope and inspiration.
He says the transformation of Starbucks since this revitalization has been key to a tremendous amount of new innovation happening inside the company. People have even commented to him that it reminds them of what the early days at Starbucks must have been like.
Schultz took 10,000 of his best people and brought them together in New Orleans in late 2008 for a leadership conference where they spent 50,000 volunteer hours helping communities re-build after Hurricane Katrina. Below is a documentary that was filmed about this event.