Community is an essential part of our life, personal and professional. We all are part of at least one community, and maybe, some of you created a community or looking to start one. We also see more companies looking to create communities, instead of building audiences. And SPIN Ideas is one of these companies.

No matter where you are on this journey, we are always looking for ways to improve the way we build and engage our community. For this edition, we invited one of our Spinners, Lana Jelenjev to share her steps to redesigning businesses as communities.

Businesses that are running on the triple bottom line people, planet, profit of John Elkington, are companies who have moved from surface-level community interactions and stepped in as businesses with broader community impact, accountability to the local community and champions of social good. These businesses are not run for the sole purpose of generating personal profit for shareholders. Rather, these are enterprises that expose a set of values that highlight growing the company in, by, and for their respective communities. These are companies that firmly believe that tight-knit and engaged communities can more powerfully address social problems than traditional policies and programs. These are companies that have redesigned their businesses as communities.

The crucial step in redesigning businesses as communities involve shifting from the: start with why to start with who.

Michel Bachmann, in his article: Start with Who, emphasized the need to re-design the golden circle proposed by Simon Sinek into a golden spiral with who at the centre followed by why, how and what.

According to him: “The why is a good story, the WHO is the lived experience.”

So how do we shift from why to who?

First, it is important to understand who are we serving in the first place? Who are the direct beneficiaries of the change we want to stir in the world? Who are also the drivers of change; people who are also catalyzing and making this change possible alongside you, as the founder?

When we think of both the drivers and beneficiaries, we get to expand our level of understanding of who this community is for. We can also plot other stakeholders, like the funders or ambassadors of change for the community. These are crucial roles that can be filled in by different people based on their interests, and their strengths.

Second, make the journey of change visible. Who these people are, also tells us where they are in their change journey. I like using the Satir Change model in understanding where people are at in their journey. Given their distinct phase, we can make suggestions on what type of activities can engage them. You can read more about the Satir change model here.

Lastly, reframe the needs/scarcity model into a strengths-based one. I am a big proponent of strengths-based practices and even when it comes to community design, I advocate for not only focusing on a needs or deficit model but more so on amplifying inherent strengths. This is why I encourage clients to explore Asset Based Community Development (ABCD). In asset-based community development, the emphasis is on the assets that are found in the community and mobilize individuals, associations, and institutions to come together to realize and develop their strengths. Assets can be in the form of individuals, associations, institutions, place-based assets and/or connections. You can read more about this practice in this blog post.

In summary, when starting with who, focus on the following:

  • Who are the different stakeholders?
  • What are their change journeys?
  • What assets do these people bring in?

This article is a collaboration between Veronica Guguian, marketing strategist and founder of Spin Ideas and Lana Jelenjev, Learning Experience and Community Strategist at Spin Ideas. Lana’s mission in life is to live a legacy of self-fullness. The expression of such a mission can be seen, felt and heard on how she creates, connects and contributes to individual and organizational change.

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