When we think about community and the seduction (or pressure) for growth, how can we create mental models to help us tackle this?
One thing that came to mind is to build in growth with repeatability over scalability.
What I feel this means in practice is that yes of course you can scale, but perhaps to achieve scale, first you need to find repeatability.
What does repeatability mean in a community context?
Great communities thrive on repeatability: the rituals, the culture, the gatherings, and the expectation settings. When we come together to create community, we create things that are repeatable. Repeatability creates a rhythm. Rhythm creates growth.
Repeatability requires experimentation. Finding the things that are repeatable doesn't happen overnight. The willingness to be creative. Try things out. Tune in to what is working, or not. We must be willing to define and defend our decisions of when to continue with something or to ditch it when it doesn't feel repeatable enough.
The frequency of repeatability varies too. It could be daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly. Understanding how frequent things need to be is key. Meetups work well as a monthly thing, a conference on the other hand is well suited for an annual event.
What works is repeatable. We need to focus in on what works and repeat that. Time and time again. Iteration. Growth. And with community intention. It doesn't mean that it has to be a huge success, it is more the case that we need to look for the things that do work. We focus on the positives, the successes and amplify those.
Repeatability creates flywheels. Traction is the modern day equivalent of a gold rush. We all want traction. It's exciting. It makes things happen. It brings us success. Communities live or die on traction, as do businesses. Repeatability creates traction. Traction leads to flywheels. Flywheels lead to growth.
Repeatability is boring. People don't talk about it because it's grunt work. It's the ops. It's behind the scenes of how things work. Flywheels and traction are so much more exciting to talk about. Repeatability is the foundation, the seeds, the roots. It's the saying hello to everyone. It's the showing up at events. It's the conversation, after conversation, after conversation. It's the admin data input.
You can create repeatability. By doing the work. Showing up. Having the conversations. Building relationships and trust. Much of a community builder's work is finding that rhythm and flow. It's hard to get there, but once you are there it can feel all soooo gooooood.
You can look for repeatability too. Who is showing up on a regular basis? Do conversations get comments? Do you get regular feedback?
And of course, what so many people want to know — when you can repeat something, you can scale it. There's no point scaling until you have that repeatability.