What do we mean by the terms ‘community’ and ‘networks’?

Posted by  GeoffBrown —March 12, 2011
Filed in How Stuff Spreads & Changes, Sustainability

I’m excited because over the next 4 weeks I have 4 days of reflective and learning time set aside with some wonderful people. Next week, I am spending the better part of 3 days with a group of people who follow each other’s blogs, share a similar workspace and push the boundaries of learning and practice. Can’t wait for that.

And to make things even better I have a paid job with the 3 Pillars Network and a NETWORK of 30 or so practitioners in the behaviour change field … and to be more specific that’s behaviour change that relates to sustainability. BUT, are we a NETWORK, or are we a COMMUNITY? Enter Matt Moore and Nancy White to help answer this question.

My 4th day of learning in on April 11 and I get to spend a day with Nancy White in some ‘deep engagement’ in a session titled Crossing New Boundaries in Online Community Management . I am really excited about this day. Firstly, I can’t wait to finally meet Nancy whose work, graphic facilitation and writing has inspired me to seek out new areas of practice.

Of late, I have been struggling with online communities and particularly in ways of leading and managing. I need challenge my own mental models on this and along comes this timely session …

“Five years ago, the job title “online community manager” was rare. It was an addition to someone’s existing job, or they simply volunteered. Today, every organisation has or wants an online community (whatever that means). We are working both with bounded communities and broad, diverse networks. We need to be more deliberate in how we integrate community strategies into the heart of our organizations, how they impact our real work, and how they shape our organizations.” Part if the invitation to the session.

So back to my question about the Behaviour Change for Sustainability NETWORK … or is that a COMMUNITY? For those participating, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Now here’s the primer from Matt and Nancy …


  1. Nancy White says:

    First, I can’t wait for the F2F meetup! Yay! Second, I think I’d throw back a twist on your question because I’m not sure it matters if something is a network OR a community, but if there are practices and actions that are more appropriate when a group is acting more community-like or network like. I guess what I’m seeing is that groups defy the boundaries of a definition, but it is helpful to think about when community-like or network-like practices will be more helpful than other alternatives. For example, when I think of scaling, I think of network type activities. When I think about deepening trust, working through hard issues, I think of community-like practices. Does that make any sense?

    See ya soon!

    1. GeoffBrown says:

      Nancy, you make perfect sense! Your twist on my question highlights why I love blogging so much – building on and challenging the first-cut ideas and questions that offer to the world.

      My post, together with your response, has given me a place to start our next face to face session in the active learning program. Exploring for ourselves the ‘network-like’ and ‘community-like’ practices that will serve our needs is a nice starting point. By extension, we can ask the same question of the individual behavior change programs we are leading.

      I am also wanting to examining the Cynefin framework as a sense making model … and I can see some nice links here.

      See you soon Nancy!

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