From the Furthest Edge to the Deepest Middle

In my role as Community Building Intern at Mozilla this summer, my goal has been to be explicit about how community building works so that people both internal and external to Mozilla can better understand and build upon this knowledge. This requires one of my favorite talents: connecting what emerges and making it a thing. We all experience this when we’ve been so immersed in something that we begin to notice patterns – our brains like to connect. One of my mentors, Dia Bondi, experienced this with her 21 Things, which she created during her time as a speech coach and still uses today in her work.

I set out to develop a mental model to help thing-ify this seemingly ambiguous concept of community building so that we all could collectively drive the conversation forward. (That might be the philosopher in me.) What emerged was this sort of fascinating overarching story: community building is connecting the furthest edge to the deepest middle (and making the process along that path easier). What I mean here is that the person with the largest of any form of distance must be able to connect to the hardest to reach person in the heart of the formal organization. For example, the 12 year old girl in Brazil who just taught herself some new JavaScript framework needs to be able to connect in some way to the module owner of that new JavaScript framework located in Finland because when they work together we all rise further together.

community building

The edge requires coordination from community. The center requires internal champions. The goal of community building is then to support community by creating structures that bridge community coordinators and internal champions while independently being or supporting the development of both. This structure allows for more action and creativity than no structure at all – a fundamental of design school.

Below is a model of community management. We see this theme of furthest edge to deepest middle. “It’s broken” is the edge. “I can do something about it” approaches the middle. This model shows how to take action and make the pathway from edge to middle easier.

community management

Community building is connecting the furthest edge to the deepest middle. It’s implicit. It’s obvious. But, when we can be explicit and talk about it we can figure out where and how to improve what works and focus less on what does not.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s