CAT | Reputation and Trust
Originally posted by me @ OnCollabNet as Hold On.
The amount of control a community has over process and direction within a project has recently come up in a situation I’ve been involved with and I think it’s a great topic for a post since it strikes at the heart of many company’s trials and tribulations in creating vibrant communities. The real question in these situations is not one of control but of trust. Can you just be along for the ride and let someone else influence your project even if you don’t agree with everything they do?
Many organizations and people find it difficult to let go and allow their communities to shape the overall direction and goals of their projects. They fear that by allowing users to get involved at a deeper level chaos will ensue and they’ll be mired in endless debate over what they perceive as insignificant issues. However, the opposite of control is not chaos, the opposite of control is trust. Trust that you’re not the only one who has good ideas. Trust that even if it doesn’t follow your established processes it might be okay. Trust that you don’t know everything!
“If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.”
Abraham Lincoln may have understood trust and community better than anyone in the history of the United States. He knew that maintaining trust meant having the people’s confidence… and with confidence you can lead. I can’t imagine having to make the kind of decisions that he did, but I can imagine how important maintaining the people’s trust must have been to him through that period in history. Every leader must have his community’s trust to be effective.
Building and maintaining trust stems from two elements, transparency and action, one without the other will not work, but together they have proven to be a winning combination for instilling the necessary confidence to effectively lead.
Originally published in Open Source Business Resource January 2010
“…success comes entirely from people and the system within which they work. Results are not the point. Developing the people and the system so that together they are capable of achieving successful results is the point.”
Recently, that quote stirred some controversy among my peers. The part about “results are not the point” was hard for some people to understand and come to grips with. Aren’t results always the point? Well, as with most things, “It depends”. The people and community that evolve around an open source software project will ultimately determine its success. Even if the core team launches the project with spectacular productivity and results, this phase of evolution will be fleeting if the necessary processes and community to make the project a long lasting success are not put into place.
This article presents some of the actions open source community leaders can take to ensure not only results, but a system that encourages productivity and longevity.
My how things have changed! Just a few years ago companies and organizations could buy multi-million dollar television ads and make a mediocre product successful. People trusted companies to produce great products and would rush out to buy the latest and greatest gizmo because they knew it was going to work as promised. Unfortunately, most companies violated that trust by producing crappy products or products that didn’t solve user needs. Fortunately for us this is changing thanks to inventive companies that are taking advantage of social media and it’s ability to let them talk directly to the customer. Companies that talk directly to their user communities and produce products using more customer focused agile methodologies are finding success through LISTENING. What a novel concept, talk to your customer and incorporate their feedback in everything you do.
This video epitomizes the current state of affairs at most companies + its pretty funny.
21st century marketing is about connecting people together around your product and creating Fans. In this new era of connectedness companies that understand this are going to be successful… very successful. It’s not about making a company’s products look good in some contrived tv or radio advertisement. (more…)
Trust influences nearly every interaction we have during any given day. Every communication, every action, every conversation is shaped in some way by the trust and reputation that we infer on the interacting party. It is the currency communities, both online and offline, trade in. Without trust, lasting relationships can’t be built and authentic communities can’t be maintained. As a Community Leader, part of our job is to build reputation and trust for our communities and the people associated with them. This may sound easy, but it can be very hard since you rely on the actions of others for much of your community’s reputation and trust. Think about it… You may be the most trustworthy and reputable person in the world, but if your community is acting in the wrong way, your efforts may be for naught. (more…)