Our Blog

Here you’ll find ideas, observations, and conversations regarding small-scale consultancies, community and conversation design, and process automation that enables the human touch.

Cultivating Community is an Endurance Sport

Cultivating Community is an Endurance Sport

An “inside-out” growth strategy is conducive to the cultivation of relationships and trust essential to a collaborative community. However, membership growth is likely to be frustratingly slow for several years before accelerating due to the dynamics of referral. The good news is that an inside-out strategy doesn’t require intensive investment on the part of the host.  However, it does require patience and persistence. It’s a marathon rather than a sprint.

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The Community Builder

The Community Builder

Fabian Pfortmüller is a Swiss community builder based in Amsterdam. He’s an experienced entrepreneur, acknowledged innovator, and prolific writer. I had the opportunity to speak with Fabian about cultivating communities from the inside-out at the speed of trust.

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Is teleconferencing the cure for Zoom fatigue?

Is teleconferencing the cure for Zoom fatigue?

We don’t exclusively engage in video conferencing or teleconferencing or live text chat or asynchronous text messaging or in-person conversations. Our task is to be thoughtful regarding which mode or modes are right for the purpose and people at hand. Video conferencing may be the better choice if the focus is on relationship building and when there are more than two or three participants.

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Achieving Individual Goals…Together

Achieving Individual Goals…Together

A community’s purpose provides direction and delineates boundaries. Nevertheless, its members’ motivation to invest their energy stems from their desire to achieve their individual goals. As Fabian Pfortmüller notes, “We can either embrace [that fact] and design for it or ignore it (and pay the price in the form of superficial engagement.”

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What Does It Mean to be Smart?

What Does It Mean to be Smart?

Increasingly, being smart means collaborating with others who are smart in complementary ways. By curating connections and facilitating productive conversations, we’re trying to help smart individuals become even smarter together.

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How to Win Client Business

How to Win Client Business

Becoming an effective rainmaker doesn’t mean we must conform to the stereotype of a pushy salesperson. To the contrary, winning client business is a function of demonstrating our expertise, earning prospective clients’ respect, and cultivating trust. That’s the message of Doug Fletcher, the author of “How to Win Client Business.”

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The Consultant to Impact Investors

The Consultant to Impact Investors

Rosalie Cates advises philanthropic foundations engaged in impact investing. An independent consultant, she’s affiliated with The Giving Practice, a project of Philanthropy Northwest. I’ve been learning from Rosalie for more than 20 years. In our most recent conversation, she shared her thoughts on the centrality of mission and values, cultivating trust, and finding one’s niche as a consultant.

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The Airtable Master

The Airtable Master

Gareth Pronovost of GAP Consulting is the expert I turn to for help with Airtable, the no-code database application. If you are hosting a membership community, you should be considering how to use Airtable and other no-code tools to streamline and automate your workflows. I spoke with Gareth about process automation, the no-code movement, his Airtable Mastermind community, and working through the suck when creating content that demonstrates your consulting expertise.

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The Consultant’s Consultant

The Consultant’s Consultant

I had the opportunity recently to speak with Joe O’Mahoney. Joe is a Professor of Consulting at Cardiff University and is the author of a leading college textbook on consulting. Prior to his academic career, Joe was a strategy consultant. Now, he applies evidence-based lessons from his research to help small consultancies navigate the often treacherous transition from early growth to effective scaling of their firms.

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How to Make Community Participation More Equal by Making Better Design Choices

How to Make Community Participation More Equal by Making Better Design Choices

Participation in your community will be unequal and inequitable. That’s because the insight that is co-produced by members through their investment of time and social capital is a public good. As such, it’s subject to the free rider problem. However, you can make participation more equal through well-designed reward systems that feature peer recognition.

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You Should (Probably) Increase Your Membership Fee

You Should (Probably) Increase Your Membership Fee

Members of paid communities are more engaged, which leads to better results for the members and the host. An element of constructive exclusion is key, and the price of membership is a signal that engagement is worthwhile. There is good reason to believe that a membership price increase (up to a point) will result in higher membership and revenue over time. That said, it takes patience and courage to commit to increasing your membership fee. The alternative—a membership fee that is too low—leads nowhere fast.

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How Might We Stimulate Broader Participation in Our Conversations?

How Might We Stimulate Broader Participation in Our Conversations?

The degree to which status and one’s ability to contribute are perceived to be coupled can inhibit the participation of relatively low-status persons in collaborative communities. That’s a problem because complex challenges are best tackled by cognitively diverse teams. That suffers when the conversation is limited to people who are high-performers along similar dimensions. If we wish to cultivate valuable and equitable communities, we need to find ways to help people identify and articulate the unique value they bring to the conversation.

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