Lesson 19, Topic 3
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Community & Crowd

UPG Team March 17, 2023
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In this module, we will explore the second attribute of the five external organizational forcing functions (SCALE), which is the importance of Community and Crowd. We will learn about the differences between the two and why they are both critical assets for building and scaling an Exponential Organization (ExO). We will cover the following topics

  • Defining Community and Crowd in the ExO context
  • The value of Community and how to create one
  • The value of Crowd and how to tap into it

While in the previous module, we discussed the importance of freelancers as a critical resource for ExOs, we will now explore an even larger cache of surplus cognitive talent, which is provided voluntarily without any contract at all. This asset is the all-important group called “Community” and “Crowd”.

Community, in the ExO context, is made up of a large global group of individuals who are passionate about the ExO’s Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) and are directly involved in the main functions of the organization. They are loyal to a shared goal and devoted to solving the grand challenges surrounding the organization’s purpose. The heart of this ecosystem is the organization’s MTP, which creates an emotional connection within the Community that drives deep connection to the enterprise that overcomes all obstacles to the relationship.

Communities and crowds can provide valuable support to an organization. A community is a group of individuals with a relationship to the company, while crowds are incentivized to participate. Communities can validate new ideas and learnings, and engagement is crucial through gamification and autonomy. Communities add value to an organization by creating IP, generating data, identifying new markets, building products, promoting the company, creating comradery, and acting as a value multiplier. Properly establishing, growing, and maintaining a community and crowd benefits an ExO with increased innovation, enhanced data analysis, and deeper engagement.

Managing a large community is challenging and requires strong leadership. Crowds are difficult to manage, but can be influenced. Cultural and linguistic differences, as well as time zones, can create stress and make it harder to bring the community along on the company’s journey. Engagement is tricky, as some community members may feel they know better than the company and become resentful when their ideas are not adopted. Additionally, managing values and expectations can be difficult as they can change quickly and unexpectedly.

Crowd refers to a gathering of people who come together for a brief period, usually to fulfill a transactional objective that aims to convert the crowd into a community. Organizations can tap into crowds through competitions, incentive prizes, and public relations efforts. Crowds are essential for A/B testing and market validation, and organizations can use platforms to engage and harness specific crowds. Crowds are the feedstock for building communities. The importance of crowds is expected to increase with the global deployment of 5G and low-Earth orbiting satellites. Some of the platforms used to engage and harness specific crowds include Fiverr, Upwork, YouTube, TikTok, Uber, and Airbnb. Organizations can incentivize crowds to create value for their companies through platforms like Kickstarter, which is a powerful means of validating a product before it is put into production. Case studies of crowd include GoFundMe, XPRIZE, TaskRabbit, TikTok, Kiva, and Wikipedia.

Smart companies tap into surplus cognitive capacity by leveraging both professional organizations and their own communities, as no single company employs all of the world’s most brilliant minds. The Kaggle community provides a platform for sharing solutions and building machine learning models, while Apple’s iPhone community serves as a sounding board, expert consultant, and purchasing audience for the company. Crowdfunding is another way to use the crowd for a higher purpose, such as investing in new technology or supporting social justice causes, and successful campaigns average nearly $30,000 per campaign. The use of crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter has also enabled market validation for a product before building it. The future of community and crowds will see increased competition for mindshare and the use of cryptoeconomics to drive community engagement, with many communities turning into DAOs.

In addition, companies can also leverage the Slicing Pie model to incentivize community and crowd engagement while reducing startup costs. The Slicing Pie model is a dynamic equity split model that allows startups to allocate equity fairly based on each participant’s contribution, whether it be time, money, or other resources. By using this method, companies can encourage community members to invest money into the project, creating tangible value and a sense of ownership. This can lead to increased loyalty and engagement among the crowd, as they are invested in the success of the project.

In conclusion, The key to creating, nurturing, and managing communities is to have a powerful MTP to attract early members, nurture the community by listening, inquiring, and giving back, and create a platform to automate peer-to-peer engagement. Tools like websites, social media, and platforms that allow community members to earn revenue and support each other can reinforce the community’s faith. True community occurs when peer-to-peer engagement happens, and the ExO must regularly confer with the community, solicit its advice, and recognize its contribution. Managing communities and crowds requires the assistance of powerful software programs that can respond quickly and effectively, with algorithms and AI playing an important role.