Building and Nurturing Communities for Positive Change - Christian Busch at TEDxMiltonKeynes



well good morning everyone it's a great pleasure being with you today seeing so many exciting stories and faces also very delighted about the hospice thank you so much we literally get the red-carpet treatment here so it's a definitely a good day I have the pleasure to talk about nurturing and building communities for positive change I myself at the pleasure to of the last year's be part of building several communities around the world most recently sandbox where we tried in 20 countries around the world to help young people become role models in their fields via a community led process and several of the key learnings I'd like to share with you with respect to the learnings from there but also with respect to the research we've done at the LSE and I'd like to challenge you to think about community as a way to not only empower individuals but particularly as one of the most effective ways to change society and particularly also as one of the ways which enables us to leverage technology in a way which has never been like that before so one of the most exciting trends and patterns we've seen is when you look at traditional offline communities like let's say the what you see in Milton Keynes fantastic community in action local communities and then technology global online communities which merge which more and more substitute each other and which make global impact possible and I'd like to take you on a journey with me a journey of individual empowerment and I'd like to do that with this story of TEDx volcano TEDx volcano is an event which happened in London few years back and it was a Saturday morning in April when Nathaniel Whittemore a entrepreneur in San Francisco he called me up in the morning and it was like Chris we've never met we don't know each other or we're both part of sandbox can you help me it's like well that sounds somehow intriguing let's see what comes out of that so yes of course and it was the day where the volcano with the unpronounceable name starting with an E broke out and everyone was somehow stuck in London so Nathaniel said well look Chris I'm stuck here in London my flight was just canceled I know that most of the attendees of the Skoll World Forum where I just came from they all stuck in London there were some other conferences all the people don't get home so they all have basically free time or their meetings got cancelled so why don't we try to make the best out of all this capacity in the city and so within 36 hours Nathaniel organized a full-fledged conference with 300 people in the audience 300 people on the waiting list 10,000 people on the recorded livestream and speakers like Jeff Skoll the founder of eBay – Larry brilliant – others all without any budget and at no cost so how did you do that well he was clever what he he had a great idea right he took the moment but that's still he would need food location volunteer speakers and so on so what did he do well he didn't have the time to build relationships himself right he didn't know any people in London he didn't really have any budget there he didn't have anything on the ground but he was clever enough to tap into existing communities so he tapped into Ted for the brand and for the speakers he tapped into sandbox for the local resources and the volunteers and he tapped into the hub network for locations and for food and so basically what he did was what my co-founder fame and formular would call he used weak ties so those people he didn't really know close or he didn't know at all as if they were strong ties as if they were his friends as if there were people who could really help them on the ground and the interesting thing is what we've seen a lot throughout those communities which were really successful and sustainable is that usually those who are able to turn weak ties into strong ties are the ones which are most successful because usually the advantages of weak ties when you look at something like Twitter where you can spread information easily with people you're not really connected to it's great for spreading information it's great for great for accessing information but usually it's not that actionable right because you don't really know the people you don't really trust the people so why would you really help them and then you have the advantages of strong ties which are usually friends neighbors those people who are close to us with whom we have an emotional connection and whom we want to help and so basically what these communities do is they take people and we'll talk in a minute about how but they take people we don't really know and make them feel close to us and make us feel we want to share that comes also back to the whole Olympic story right how do we trigger communities easily into a narrative so we look closer at that is we claimed or we named these societies curated innovation communities so communities that are able to have action at a finger spot and we believe there are five core pillars the first one is a action driven purpose clear values the second one is a framework of trust it's created diversity it's connected decentralization and its technology these are all now there's not much meaning yet in these nouns by the help over the next ten minutes I will convince you that these are the five pillars which a successful innovation community will need let's start with action driven purpose Nataniel succeeded in getting a lot of people towards action because he had a clear narrative he had a compelling idea a storyline of why what he would do would be something people want to be part of it was an experiment they wanted to be part of an experiment so he clearly answered the question why am i part of this why should you be part of this he also tapped into communities which are defined by very clear values and this is an organization here holstee in New York I know if you you might have seen the manifesto very designed it was basically a manifesto detailing their values when you go to their about Us page you only see the manifesto and that manifesto was downloaded 90 million times because it was a very genuine honest story about how they make decisions based on what and that is something which is obviously spreading at the moment having more and more values also making more explicit and some organizations when communities start to make values much more tangible by a pledges and other means to reach that so what's obviously very important then is to see the underlying idea of why that is the case why we need this action different purpose so one trend we've seen over the last years is that I never felt really comfortable with this idea of Generation Y because it always was fuzzy to me to put people into an age group and then say you're all the same now because you're the same age I think like unfortunately the variety of those people doing good and doing bad and the variety of people who really do something versus do nothing it's much too big to frame them into one age group so what we try to do is much more understand how can we classify a mindset so we call the Generation Y question mark a generation which goes beyond age groups but which has a very clear common denominator which is questioning things which is the quest for putting meaning to whatever we do and also the quest of asking why whatever we do should we should we do or not and the interesting thing is that most organizations nowadays most communities nowadays they still implicitly cater towards the whole Maslow hierarchy when you look at a traditional organization a traditional community a lot of times people try to incentivize first by having material is filth and safety needs emotional needs and then if still is some time you could still self actualize a little bit right that comes in the very end Bill Gates first sets of Microsoft any foundation you first do good then you do well and this logic is in a lot of communities as well you first do the very basics and then you go into actualizing yourself but what we believe is that we have a new mindset emerging here which is having those needs at the same time and wanting to express these needs at the same time so it's not a hierarchy anymore it's a circle so we need build communities which cater to fulfilling these five needs at the same time and we also understand this very relational it is not enough to have one individual charismatic leader who's standing out there and who's carrying the van but we need a relationship based idea of an enlightened self-interest of people to serve others so that their needs are better served so a good communities usually cater to that the second pillar and that is the most important one I felt for a lot of the societies or associations I've been involved this is the whole question of how can I trust someone to get something done and why would I be willing to help someone or to trust someone to do something and the interesting thing is when you think about Nathaniel again Nathaniel didn't have any time to build the relay a ship's so he had to rely on relationships other people built for him why did the people trust him why did the sand boxers and the testers trusted him well because he went through a similar selection process so it was clear that there was a certain common denominator they trusted the umbrella the brands right there was huge brands associated with this and most importantly there were shared experiences not necessarily with each other but when you look at alumni associations for example when you're in alumni of a certain class or university you have a certain basic trust because that person went through a similar process or similar experience so you have a certain proxy for that so when you take that together that creates a certain framework of trust but the framework of trust is nothing if you don't have the right diversity the exciting thing I feel about our times is that when you look at most of the challenges nowadays most of the challenges you don't know what resources you will need for them tomorrow right Nathaniel didn't know a day before the conference that he would actually need these resources so he needed a broad range of potential resources he could draw from so an important factor for successful communities is to have a diverse group of people yet who have a most importantly a common denominator so while they can be different in in terms of capabilities or resources they should obviously have a common denominator that comes back to the why why they are doing something together and the interesting thing then is what what we've seen in in very good communities usually is that people can build a certain Karma they can build reputation or capital and those of you interested in it Rachel Botsman talk very interestingly about how you can build reputation capital so that whenever something happens you would basically then tackle those people who have a reputation for something so when you come to London and I don't think most of you probably don't want to organize an HR conference but you probably want to do other things so it might always be that there is a person who is in their respective field elaborated a certain reputation you can see that at NU all these new Quora for example a new technology platform where people you would never assume that people would just answer questions for strangers but people do that because they feel they can be reputation in something and that is important for communities as well then we have one of the interesting factors which developed with the use of technology which we're able to do nowadays is to not only have offline local communities but also have global online communities but the question always becomes and that comes back to the story of the gentleman before how can we make sure that we don't take a global frame and then overwhelm everything which is local but how can we make sure that we have a standardised frame in terms of several values or several processes systems but then contextualize that make that relevant for the local context and particularly have the local needs displayed in them so what's very interesting communities have been doing is empowering locals particularly as curators or ambassadors or just people on the ground who were a response to filtering into the organization what actually goes on on the ground and Nathaniel for example was only able to do that in London because people in London on a weekend a weekend usually in London means a weekend so usually you can't get that much stuff done but he could get it done because people didn't have to ask the centre for permission but they could just say ok we're in so the locals were literally empowered to help him with that and this juicing thing then becomes when you picture the organization as a hub in the middle of the community and then you have these super connectors these super notes the ambassadors and they themselves then connect to many other people so in the end you also reach the global spread of people without having to reach them directly on the ground and then last but not least something which you would probably have expected to be much upper on the upper on the list but technology actually the funny thing about technology is particularly when you see communities with very old established organizations is that when you hear people who are leading these communities they usually say you know what we want to develop this fantastic technology and then we will have the most vibrant community ever no it's not like this it doesn't work like this because you first obviously have to build the community and the technology is just a platform then right you just translate something which would anyways happen into the virtual space and I think that is the most important part when thinking about technology that it's a platform it's not a solution and so what the most interesting communities then do is they understand technology as a complement to existing conversations so let's say you have a fantastic conversation here at TEDx Milton Keynes ideally then there is a Facebook group which continues that conversation but it's not something which is independent from each other that usually never works as you might have seen on Facebook I think there are hundred million groups by now but I think there's just a handful of groups which are really working right which are really seeing actionable outcomes in terms of making things happen and I think one of the key reasons is that people still do not really understand what are the real mechanisms behind people taking action like visibility like being recognized for what they're doing so that's the one thing that technology can accelerate actions but the other thing I'm much more curious and excited about actually is the whole point of lateral accountability so peer to peer control holding people accountable as you might see those people particularly who are more involved in online groups and online settings you will see that it is very easy to observe what other people do right what do you see here for example is this this guy who is schooling himself and who's who's checking himself out and then his mom behind him who's even probably at night checking him out secretly as well but the point being that a lot of our actions are very visible nowadays particularly when you try to make bigger things happen and the interesting thing there is that it is in our own self-interest to be not too self-interested because you will be traced back in the next years to come and I think a lot of people still underestimate what it actually means to be digital nowadays because obviously you cannot just erase that from your CV so the point being that I think a lot of people in an ideal world become much more conscious about how they in act interact in this world and for communities that means the more transparent we have a community the better because then people have an incentive to actually show that they are part of the community for the right reasons and the question that becomes of course like does that work across communities does that work across organizations across geographies and you will not be surprised that I would say yes for several reasons but the most important reason being that I believe that's community building will become one of the most important capabilities for any organization in the world when you think about how to make innovation happen in big organizations a lot of times it is now like you know these buzz words around global collaboration and and and so and so but this is usually not between individuals alone right this is between groups so the question becomes how can we incentivize people to be working within communities and particularly to make that actionable enough that it actually has clear outcomes for better decision-making faster decision making and better innovative solutions so in the end I want to close with a quote of mega red meat who's much cleverer than me and I probably should have cited her the whole time but I'll cite her now she said something beautiful which I think summarizes very well what I believe in which is that you should never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world because in the end it is the only thing that ever has thank you yeah I find it very interesting that you're talking again about technology as a platform and it isn't a thing in itself it's something that you use and went and you're inspiring talk about Nathaniel and I'm interested in knowing how we liberate the Nathaniel's of this world to pick up those phones I mean if you just got any thoughts about how we make those individuals committed individuals yeah come alive yeah I think I believe a lot in having the right peer groups so having the right inspiration role models who then inspire others to do the same so I feel the first thing is identifying that comes also back to your idea identifying those people in a certain community who can be role models so not the Richard Branson's of this world who are much too far away to be really inspirational because it's when I'm a kid somewhere in a town town shape or in the council I probably feel I will never get there right but when I have a role model like Nathaniel who's who's doing exciting things but he's not too far away so I know I can do that as well I think that is the first step so the role model question and then I think the platform building is all around how can I now define communities that share certain common denominators which make people yeah happen and I think that is the interesting thing that with a lot of community actions I've seen here as well that basically if you find the rights well has all d'être the right reason for why something should happen then usually people yeah this morning again has been your finding your voice and I think what was impressive Nathaniel had the confidence during you and you said yes and then the ball starts rolling because one voice is heard by another and then another voice joins so again thank you very much




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