Getting Serious about Community Development (Part 4)

The good old art of managing the emotional bank account of trust. With all the buzz around communities we are tempted to forget that the tipping point between our expertise and the community that supports it, is that bank account.

This is something I come across on every project, it’s the tipping point between delivery and sustainability of a change. In the three-step model that I use to frame Social Architecture the second level is called Relationship Management. This is where we put in the emotional labor on top of our expertise.

We do this for two reasons:

  1. make sure that our expertise gets used. In this sense, relationship management resides in our own emotional intelligence when we deliver our projects. This is necessary, but not sufficient to get to the next level.
  2. gain enough trust of people in order for them to allow us to take them that extra mile along community development. (OK, you may have to read that sentence twice… in the mean time I will think about a simpler way to put it).

Raising the Bar for Our Profession

Stephen Covey used the metaphor of a financial bank account into which you can make deposits and take withdrawals. The currency of this bank account is social currency, so its statements tell us something about the relationship you have with your friends, family, associates, customers, etc. The most important of all deposits into the emotional bank account is empathy.

Covey defines empathy as: listening to another person within his or her frame of reference. If you pay attention and show your interest you are building the relationship and making deposits on that account.

Getting from the level Expertise to Social Architecture is a big deal, certainly for people who are going through a change themselves (about 100% of our target population). On top of that, most people are not used to think in terms of developing a community around the project. That’s where the bank account comes in.

Did you make enough deposits? Then people will be opening up to you, show you their vulnerability in the face of their organization, and let you help them develop community.

If not, well then… better get back to good old project propaganda…

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  • http://fourgroups.com/ Bruce Lewin

    Hi Luc, Covey’s writing re: an emotional bank account and your model above are both interesting.

    Do you ever see the notion of ‘Relationship Management’ being something that can be measured and transformed into a ‘repeatable process’, or do you always think it will be qualitative and subject to different people’s perspectives, opinions and intuition?

    I ask because the idea of ‘Social Architecture’ appeals in the sense that it conjurers up ideas of frameworks, consistency, design and prediction and it seems that in order to realise a ‘Social Architecture’, people must have successfully achieved and progressed on from ‘Relationship Management’ – at least if I’ve properly understood your writing.

  • http://www.reply-mc.com Luc Galoppin

    Hi Bruce,
    That’s a compelling question and I think the answer should be a resounding ‘yes’.
    If we are serious about Social Architecture, we should not shy away from making the step towards it measurable. It is the only way to find out if one action works better than another.
    I specifically like your question because it triggers a whole array of other possible questions, such as: what specifically should be measured / managed? Or: what specifically can be made repeatable and ‘service-able’ in relationship management? Finally, a tough one for me is ‘to what extent will repeatable processes enhance service and at the same time not work against the ‘care’ that can be catered for by the community?
    Again: thanks Bruce for this question.
    Luc

  • http://fourgroups.com/ Bruce Lewin

    Hi Luc, not at all – I’m glad that you responded so warmly to my question! I’ve written a response and although it’s perhaps more general than your comments above, it does start to explore some of the themes.

    Please feel free to have a read of the blog post – Can you Predict Team Performance?, along with some more specific comments below.

    >If we are serious about Social Architecture, we should not shy away from making the step towards it measurable. It is the only way to find out if one action works better than another.

    Absolutely – I wrote a recent piece about this – Peopleware and Social Business – A Missing Piece?. Jamie Notter speaks of “a process-based ‘architecture’ for transparency” but not having read his book yet, I don’t know how much of an architecture/measurable/repeatable process it is, as opposed to a one-off, experiential event. Do you know anything more about this?

    >such as: what specifically should be measured / managed? Or: what specifically can be made repeatable and ‘service-able’ in relationship management?

    In the Predict Team Performance post, the focus is on Social Relationships. These can be measured in a consistent and repeatable fashion but I’d be interesting to know a bit more about what you mean when you say ‘service-able’?

    >a tough one for me is ‘to what extent will repeatable processes enhance service and at the same time not work against the ‘care’ that can be catered for by the community?

    Interesting! Given the nature of Social Relationships, I’d say that this ‘measurable’ does tick both of these boxes. Firstly and as above, they are predictive and repeatable measurements/constructs. Secondly, they act in a manner than raises the quality of the relationship between two people, rather than just one person benefiting. When this is aggregated over a whole team, everyone benefits and the sum of the parts are greater than the whole.

    Out of interest, what other approaches/models etc. have you come across that get close to answering your questions above re: defining Relationship Management/A Social Architecture?

  • http://www.reply-mc.com Luc Galoppin

    Hi Bruce,
    I finally took the time to read the articles that you included in your reply.
    I found the model very intriguing and at the same time I am left with the feeling that a model like that cannot possibly be complete in what it measures.
    I do believe it can work very well in virtual environments, but in face-to-face settings the mapping can only be an impression of what the dynamics are like.
    On the other hand, since we are lacking any other instrument of measurement, this is the closest we can get to a measurement. Thanks for sharing it!
    Luc

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  • http://fourgroups.com/ Bruce Lewin

    Hi Luc, thank you for your comments and apologies for the delay in getting back to you… travel and a busy schedule.

    The model does reflect the behavioural, cultural and relational aspects of a group very well. Clients will typically regard it to be 80 – 95% accurate in terms of either capturing or predicting specific dynamics and scenarios.

    That said, you are right and the model doesn’t measure all the factors that need to be taken into account. 4G is context neutral and in practice, this means that it doesn’t directly measure things like skills, experience and ego/self interest. Additionally, it doesn’t capture elements of businesses processes or organisational hierarchies. However, all of the above are typically well understood by a combination of formal and informal measures and adding 4G to this mix is very straightforward.

    Re: face to face and virtual, it’s pretty even in terms of mapping the dynamics – if anything, 4G works better in face to face environments. The reason behind this is that face to face will generally always create a richer level of interaction and increased expectation, both of which help raise the experiences of people in particular relationships and hence they can recognise the output from 4G more clearly. Virtual environments are different in that the amount of time people spend communicating, emailing and talking will vary and by extension, the level at which people know each other ‘well’ varies too…

    No worries re: sharing the model – thank you for your time and feedback!