Organizations of people are evolving from exclusivity to inclusiveness. This creates more sustainable communities where members place their trust in each other.
While not fashionable, sustainability generated some critical discussion a couple of decades ago. Back then the talk was mostly among scientists, those of us within the green industry, and more than a few citizens at large. What happened? Well, times were so good for so long that the movement just didn't develop much traction. Disposable was more accurately the word of the day back then.
Today we are waking up to how our wasteful behaviors have now collided with a devastating economy. In these unprecedented times, we need to build sustainable communities. And the only way that is going to happen is by working together.
A Community of Communities
We live on one planet, and that means all communities eventually merge into one.
You may only be concerned with what happens in your local community, but you now know that the economic future of your community is highly dependent upon global markets, multiple currencies, the supply and demand for necessary commodities and skilled labor.
Social media is helping us to understand how our communities overlap They freely co-mingle resources when that is possible. Your company is a community that merges with other communities that includes industry associations and markets. This means you are vying for the same resources as other companies.
If you wish to be successful in the future, it's vital to begin thinking about managing your communities for inclusiveness, as opposed to exclusivity. In times of scarcity, no organization, company, or community can expect to succeed on the merits of exclusivity.
What's the a logical first step? Engage more with the communities you depend upon. Make a list. It's a list that will continue to grow with more examination. Here are some suggestions for building engagement with your communities.
Sharing and Crowdsourcing
Crowdsourcing is collaboration with a community group to perform a simple task, usually one that solves a simple problem for the majority of the community. This is often best accomplished when there is a degree of anonymity. This active participation is almost certain to generate more sustainable solutions. Why? Because the crowd has ownership in what it helps to create.
Marketers have traditionally considered themselves to be the experts who processed market information. Focus groups are the best example of this. Crowdsourcing is different. It spins that concept around 180 degrees. It's a new way of thinking that taps into the wisdom of a crowd. How can you do this? Facebook Fan Pages, Twitter, online surveys, comments on your blog, and practically every other form of social media.
Why is this significant? It's not what you have to say about your products and services that matters most, but what others are saying.
A New Business Model
One of the greatest contributors to the failure of small businesses is the belief that they are mini-corporations. This is top-down thinking that minimizes inclusiveness, a model that is doomed in our emerging economy. Top-down thinking leads to taking on too much overhead, forgetting that customers want to be engaged, and otherwise assuming a 'one size fits all' mentality.
Entrepreneurs and small businesses need a business model that is community focused. They need a model that takes what is working for them now, their personal relationships with people in the community, and extends it. Social media can do this – because social media is not about more – but better.
Think about how you can help your communities do more of what they want to do. You can surely discern that they are concerned about the economy? What else? Education, health care, safety, communication, and the environment. You decide.
Most importantly, consider how can you help your community in a way that is congruent with your business mission.
This is all a process, not an event. Being human-centric, and collaborating with people to build sustainable communities is not that difficult at all.
It just has to be done.
Have an outstanding year!
Photo Credit: Sreejith K