Community Subgroup

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Community Google Group


Jon Lebkowsky, Sherry Lowry and Anna Carroll

Next Meeting

No meeting in August.

Meeting Archives

  • July 7: Bootstrap Your Community (Jon Lebkowsky, Bijoy Goswami)
    • Audio
    • (Image link forthcoming)
  • March 25: Building Resilient Communities.


For bootstrappers interested in building communities

What Makes a Vibrant Community?

  1. It’s about something (Maven). A vibrant community picks a knowledge niche and continually deepens and challenges its understanding of its niche.
  2. It takes action (Evangelist) and causes others to do so. The community evangelizes its knowledge niche and supports its members in taking individual and joint actions. Vibrant communities find ways to take collective action, both within and without their communities. Every community will have unique actions it can take.
  3. Its members are connected (Relater). A vibrant community actively nurtures the number AND quality of connections among its members. It moves from a "broadcast" mindset, with members interacting primarily with the central organization, to a Metcalfe and Reed mindset, creating ways for members to connect one-on-one and in groups, particularly in person.
  4. It creates and communicates protocols. Protocols help members understand appropriate (and more importantly, inappropriate) interactions within the community. They also provide for varying levels of engagement with the community and ways to escalate and de-escalate involvement. While protocols are created with the community's input, they are ultimately set by the leadership.
  5. It uses systems to support its activities. Generally systems include different technologies, particularly web-based ones.
  6. It bootstraps itself. The first 5 principles are applied in context, evolving in a step-wise fashion and impacting each other in nonlinear and unexpected ways. Communities go through analogous stages of development to ventures - Ideation, Valley of Death, Growth and Rebootstrap - and right actions are needed for each stage. Indeed, different parts of a community will be in different stages. Additionally, vibrant communities continually rebootstrap themselves and incorporate ways to create innovation, while scaling initiatives that have been proven to work.

Hear a talk on the six principles on the BootRap Podcast.

Bootstrap Austin Case Study

  1. Bootstrap creates an ongoing dialogue about bootstrapping through speakers, podcasts, book club, wiki. The current best synthesis on bootstrapping principles are codified and disseminated on the Bootstrap Bootcamp.
  2. Bootstrap evangelizes bootstrapping to its members. Taglines such as, Right Action Right Time, Constraint Creates Innovation, Use Everything keep bootstrappers focused. Bootstrap Initiatives are the primary way that bootstrap takes action within our community. Subgroups may create specific project to get their community into action. Our Bootstrap Ambassador reaches out to the extended Austin community, often creating joint events.
  3. Pro-actively enhance members' number of connections with each other through the Connector Initiative, Bootstrap Online, BootKarma, initiatives and subgroups. We help increase the quality of member connections by creating the ability to become a Contributor and collaborate on initiatives.
  4. Protocols are articulated through the Community Playbook. Every technology deployed has a set of protocols - for example, participation in the Bootstrap Austin Yahoo Group has the explicit protocol that members may not sell their wares unless in response to a question from a fellow bootstrapper. Additionally, the community structure provides for 4 distinct levels of engagement: Participant, Active Participant, Contributor and Collaborator.
  5. Bootstrap is continually experimenting with, adopting and creating systems to support its activities. We use freely available technologies (blogs, wikis, yahoo groups), member-developed technologies and also create entirely new technologies (BootKarma).
  6. Bootstrap has emerged using the principles of bootstrapping. We started innocuously with an informal meeting of 20 entrepreneurs in July, 2003. While always guided by leadership, the community has evolved with few preconceived notions, allowing the true purpose to organically emerge rather than be imposed. While the process has often been "messy," it has also resulted in a totally unique community.