As the summer draws to a close we were drawn to a blog post this week by Brook Manville on HBR – You Need A Community, Not A Network

As Manville notes, “you can’t mobilize people to collaborate and create something of lasting value simply by connecting them via the web. To get serious results from a network, you need commitment and a continuity of relationships among the participants”.

Thick_and_ThinManville describes “thin we” networks (groups that people tend to join for individualistic reasons); contrasted with “thick we” networks – communities of people who feel responsible for collaborating toward a shared purpose that they see as superseding their individual needs.

Members of a community — as opposed to a simple network — expect relationships within the group to continue, and they even hold one another accountable for effort and performance.  Examples of thick networks he cites include open source software communities, charitable foundations, and volunteer groups organized around a specific mission or goal.

He describes the power of thick we networks and how organizations are now reaching beyond the boundaries of their organizations, tapping experts, customers, and, more broadly, “the crowd” to build new products, services, and other solutions.

Which got us thinking about a few key questions:

  • What do our users’ organizations look like at Organimi?  Are they “thin we” or “thick we” networks?
  • How can Organimi become a better tool to help our user community help their organizations “get thick”?
  • And what about Organimi — are we thick or thin?

Are We Growing A Thick We Community?

First, our user organizations.

It has been a busy summer at Organimi.  We started with around 1800 organizations and 45,000 members.  We’re ending it with almost 4500 organizations and 120,000 members.  We’ve had a lot of members expanding the network through referrals and sharing and we thank you for that!

FireworksWe also get the sense that we’re just starting on an interesting journey.  Our users are seeing the value of using organizational charts differently – online as a tool for “thickening” their community; helping members get in touch with each other, get to know each other better, and understand their roles and responsibilities in organizations of all types – businesses of all sizes, municipalities, school boards and school groups, churches, synogouges, mosques, sports teams, not for profits, charitable foundations.

Is Organimi Helping Thicken Your Community?

Second, our plan to help our users thicken the organizations you work with.

We have a fairly diverse user community – senior executives in small businesses, office managers and administrators, marketing, sales and service professionals trying to engage more effectively with their customers, volunteers, early adopters, consultants and professionals in the people management domains – recruiters, talent managers, trainers, HR professionals.

CommunityWe want to thank everybody for finding us online and making us part of their organizational toolkit.  To use Manville’s approach, we have significantly expanded the network.

What are some next steps for our users?

  • Use Organimi to map out your organizational relationships within your organization
  • Use Organimi to create new cross-organizational groups and teams to extend your networks, solve problems, create opportunities, or manage teams and projects more effectively
  • Use Organimi to get to know organizations you want to engage with in more meaningful ways.
  • Experiment with sharing Organimi org charts online with some of these groups.  Start the communication towards collaboration.

Most importantly, please keep the comments and feedback coming.  We want our user community to share our goal of helping transform the ways people engage with each other in all the organizations they belong to, with useful tools that help them do this in a meaningful way.

We can do that best by making a better product that fits and suits your needs.  We want to do that.

Organimi – Thick Or Thin

Last, Organimi – thick or thin.

We grapple with this challenge internally at Organimi.

Particularly with our by design virtual team architecture there is a whole lot of activity to co-ordinate.  A huge amount of trust is also involved. And through the trust comes a shared sense of confidence we are doing something that helps people and can make a difference, even if it is in a small way.

We had two team events this summer – the Edgewalk 1700 feet about Toronto’s skyline, and a cottage country weekend to recharge and reconnect.  It was great in these events to experience a genuine sense of wanting to get to know each other better as people.

We’ve also spent time listening to users, taking their comments and feedback, and planning our next product features and enhancements for Organimi.

We still have lots to figure out, but we hope that as we grow we will continue to thicken up as we grow.

But we did spend some quality talk time on product direction this summer.

At Organimi  everyone on the team is engaged and enrolled in this project of making the best org charts we can, doing the Organimi community proud, and helping existing and new users find new ways to use them to engage, energize and delight the people in the organizations they care about.

Putting “Getting Thicker Front And Center”

As Manville notes, “effective community builders put the larger purpose front and center, stretching people with a higher vision”, coupled with a real-world focus on performance, combined with personal benefits in skills development and social fulfillment of being part of a group working together. Finally, and most important, they make participants the real heroes”.

Make no mistake about it – our users are our heroes.

If you haven’t checked us out yet, try Organimi here – simple, easy and free.

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So thanks again for all the support, for the great product features and suggestions, and for putting up with the kinks as we iron things out….and welcome to everyone who has joined us in this project.  We hope you have fun!

As Manville notes, in our emerging super-networked economy, we all need to understand that when it comes to “we,” the thicker the better.

So welcome to the team!!