Communities are the building blocks of collaboration in today’s networked organizations. They consist of people working together for mutual benefit, developing strong relations, and weaving a web of vibrant interactions.
Communities of practice, communities of interest, innovation communities, and so on, help to bridge knowledge gaps and cross collaboration barriers within and between organizations. However, successful communities do not emerge just like that. They often emerge in a very fragmented collaborative landscape of diverse stakeholders, activities, and resources.
To improve their collaboration, community members and stakeholders therefore need to continually make sense of it. This collaborative sensemaking involves developing a common process of reaching a shared understanding about their collaboration, including the various perspectives and interests of the community members and surrounding stakeholder network. Collaborative sensemaking helps community members find out what their collaboration is about, what relationships and interactions their community consists of, what collaboration resources are available, and what concrete opportunities exist for better working communities.
Participatory community mapping method
To support this collaborative sensemaking process, I am developing a participatory community mapping method and applying it to client cases via CommunitySense. Using this method, community members map their own community network by visualizing the many pieces of their collaborative puzzle into relevant maps and views that help them better understand where their common ground is and the next actions needed to make their collaboration grow.
To make and share the maps, I use Kumu, a powerful tool for network visualization, analysis, and sharing. What makes Kumu so powerful are the combined features of:
- Elegant layout and multimedia content, such as embedded images and videos to make the maps look appealing and useful for storytelling.
- Enabling different views on the map, best reflecting different stakeholder needs and interests.
- Social network analysis options to, for example, determine what the hubs of activity are.
- Web-based environment, so that parts of maps and views – each with their own permalink – can be shared and integrated with the daily activities of participants.
What’s in Kumu-based community mapping for you?
Kumu-based community mapping can serve many purposes for your organization, network, or community:
- Navigation: seeing the forest for the trees in your expansive community network. See, for example, either the big picture or how organizations and activities of specific interest to you are linked.
- Presentation: tell the many rich stories defining your community network using Kumu’s online text, images, video, and style options.
- Community-building: develop “cockpits” for community building, for instance, to see where the centers of community activity are. Use these cockpits for sensemaking and agenda-setting sessions with your community members to plan your next actions.
- Accountability: show your sponsors and boards how your community network is about so much more than just producing “deliverables”: instead, how it is an essential hub in a growing stakeholder relationship and activity network, directly serving the mission and strategy of your organization.
I help organizations, networks, and communities to design and set up relevant community maps, to answer the right questions to fill the maps with meaningful content and to discover customized ways to integrate the use of maps in their workflows and business processes.
As a consultant, I can help you to efficiently set up a Kumu-based community mapping process tailored to your specific collaboration needs. My community mapping services include:
- Strategic advice on the relevance of community mapping for your organization
- Consulting on how to use community mapping to improve your business, management, and communication processes in practice
- Defining the scope of your own community mapping process
- Designing the architecture of your community maps
- Creating your initial community maps
- Facilitating workshops to roll out community mapping in your community network
- Training your staff to become their own map makers
Contact me if you are interested to learn more to discover how community mapping might benefit your collaboration.
- New publication – Towards a participatory community mapping method: The Tilburg urban farming community case
- Growing the Tilburg urban farming community map using Kumu
- Podcast: Aldo de Moor on Community Sense-making in Tilburg
- Een Stadse Boeren community moet je samen opkweken (in Dutch)
- Het ontbrekende puzzelstukje