Getting Serious about Community Development (Part 14)

How do you deliver your projects? There are 4 levels between the world as we know it and the path of the Yoda master.

It’s a question one can answer in many different ways. The conversation that is most likely to follow is a discussion about tools and techniques. In this post I’d like reorient that discussion in order to have a look at 4 different levels of delivery.

The 4 levels of delivery are based on the extent to which we are capable of developing community around the technical delivery of a project. The drawing below depicts the 4 levels.

Rescuer: the initial level

At this level our client totally depends on our presence. We are hired because we hold the key to solve a problem. Our skills are needed for the client to go from point A to point B. But having a key is one thing; we also need to have a clue.

Practitioners who don’t have clue find their comfort zone in perpetuating a victim-rescuer dynamic. But we need to grow out of that level before installation is accomplished. We need to cross the dependency threshold.

Expert: getting things done

The expert delivers according to specs and even widens the insights of a client in terms of what is really needed. Also, the expert is the one who gets things done in project mode. Timelines are accomplished, delivery is singed off and even the transfer of knowledge is done. This is the level of professional installation according to the book.

The only problem is that this level will not get us any further than project installation. Experts have a poor understanding of their own redundancy and this is what keeps them under the realization threshold.

Social Architect: developing community

In the previous post of this series I underscored that the development of a social architecture within an organization is the best way to cultivate ownership over benefits realization. I claimed that the magic happens during project installation; this is where the first realization milestones ought to be set. During project installation the thresholds are defined and agreed upon for benefits realization.

More importantly, during installation we make sure we build the necessary relationships in order to gain the trust and the legitimacy for building a social architecture. Community development around the technical delivery is the only way to reach benefits realization. All practitioners need to have this mindset about their redundancy.

But then again, there is a next level of redundancy we should aspire, the Yoda level if you will…

Yoda: transferring the skill of social architecture

At this level we not only make sure that a social architecture is built around the technical delivery, but we also make sure that our skill of building a social architecture is equally embedded in the client organization. Sure enough this means turning our own vulnerability up another notch.

Transferring the skill of social architecture during installation would mean openness in all of our actions very early on – and most of all openness about all our uncertainties and ambiguities. Like there is no outside. In all honesty, I call this the Yoda level because of that awkward state of mind and also because I have never operated at that level myself. Yet I feel like it is a path worth pursuing.