Community Centered Collective Action Design Framework

June 3, 2010

In order to get any group of people to work together towards a common goal, you need to find the answers to these questions:

  • What do you want people to do?
  • How will they do it?
  • Who do you want to participate?
  • Why will these people participate?

This should be the starting mindset for any brand or anyone designing experiences that are intended to engage a community of likeminded people.

When brands attempt to work with groups of individuals outside the brand, i.e. consumers – or as I prefer to call them: people – things start to get a little bit more complicated.

Too often, what brands set out to accomplish is out of whack with what any group of people outside the brand would be interested in.

Brands need a method for aligning what’s important to the brand with what’s important to the community of potential participants.

(Click for full-size image)

This approach has four parts, which synch with our guiding questions of Who, What, How, and Why.

Community
What is the shared interest that brings these people together and defines their collective identity? (Hint: the answer is not “our brand”)

Vision
What is an aspect of our world that this community would be inspired to help change? (Hint: it can be big or small, as long as it’s a specific outcome that is inspiring to the community)

Values
What are the beliefs that guide this community’s decisions? (Hint: look at the kinds of information that strengthen bonds between members and gives members status within the group)

Behaviors
What are the common modes of interaction and communication within the community? (Hint: pay closer attention to what people do, than to the platforms that enable it)

Once you’ve developed a deep and comprehensive understanding of the network of people you want to work with, you’re ready to begin building the experience.

At MIT’s Center for Collective Intelligence, researchers Thomas W. Malone, Robert Laubacher, Chrysanthos Dellarocas, and Greg Little, have spent the last four years analyzing examples of collective intelligence enabled by the internet, and have developed a model they call The Collective Intelligence Genome (I highly recommend that you download and read the full paper available here.)

(Click for full-size image)

I’ve adapted their model slightly to be a bit more suited to marketing. I’ve renamed the four pillars: Goal, Participants, Tools/Methods, and Motivations. And I’ve expanded their list of Why genes beyond just Money, Love, and Glory in order to encourage a more holistic approach to thinking about what a community will find compelling. The Motivation genes I list were adapted from Jane McGonigal’s research on why people play games, and Daren C. Brabham’s research on the Threadless community.

Goal: What specific collective action is the group contributing to?

  • Create – the group needs to create something new
  • Decide – the group needs to choose

Participants: Who is the group of people who will be working together?

  • Crowd – a loosely organized, widely distributed group of people, typically unrestrained by place or time
  • Hierarchy – a group organized by a management structure, with specific roles and responsibilities for each participant

Motivations: Why will each person within this network be compelled to participate?

  • Money – in exchange for a monetary reward
  • Glory – for the opportunity to gain public recognition
  • Expertise – to hone their skills and get better at what they do
  • Social – to spend time with people they like
  • Satisfying work – the feeling of accomplishing meaningful tasks
  • Be part of something bigger – the sense that they are contributing to something bigger than themselves
  • Personal passion – because this is something that they love to do

Tools/Methods: How will the group be enabled to participate?

(Tools/Methods: Create)

  • Collection – each participant contributes in small pieces on their own
  • Contest – used when there is a limit on how much needs to be created
  • Collaboration – used when individual contributions necessarily affect each other

(Tools/Methods: Decide – Group Decisions)

  • Voting – each participant votes for their favorite choice, most votes wins
  • Averaging – each participant rates independently, and the aggregate ratings are averaged for a final rating
  • Consensus – participants engage in direct dialogue with each other to agree on a precise outcome
  • Prediction Market – participants place bets on what they expect to happen

(Tools/Methods: Decide – Individual Decisions)

  • Market – participants spend money to express their choices
  • Social Network – participants trade in social currency to guide and express their choices

These elements, or genes, can be thought of as ingredients to be mixed and matched in endless combinations to create experiences suited to different needs and project exigencies.

Our powers combined… we end up with an actionable framework for designing experiences to catalyze collective action among a network of individuals connected by a common interest, aligned with the interest of the brand, that looks something like this:

(Click for full-size image)

Thank you for making it to the end. You’ve just earned 1,000 Bonus points for determination!

This is still a work in progress. Comments are very welcome. What are example of this that you’ve seen or built yourself? What questions arise as you attempt to put this into action? What other thoughts can you share?

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19 Responses to “Community Centered Collective Action Design Framework”


  1. [...] Actualizado: Segunda parte del post de Mike Arauz. [...]

  2. Gavin Heaton Says:

    In the Community Centered Design slides, the term “vision” is a little problematic. Each corporation is going to have a “vision” of some kind – and I am expecting that what you are really wanting is a shared aspiration – some principle around which the community can create a sense of gravity.

    The DNA slide I love – and it caught my attention last night (or was it the night before) in the Slideshare deck. Great stuff.


  3. [...] 3, 2010 · Leave a Comment This guy is [...]

  4. Erik Says:

    Great post!

    What would it look like if the starting mindset began with the people and not the brand?

    Could it look something like this:

    What do you want people to do? vs. What do people want to do?

    How will they do it? vs. How do they do it?

    Who do you want to participate? vs. How can I/we participate?

    Why will these people participate? vs. Why should they let us participate?


  5. Mike:
    Good stuff. Two parts to this. Motivating individuals and mobilizing (or tapping into) communities. Not always the same thing. Agree that in every encounter there needs to be quid pro quo: what do we give, what do we get. People join communities for three reasons: be part of something they agree with or are interested in; validation and identity; belief in the power of a group to accomplish more than the individual. Yet as communicators and marketers we need to motivate individuals and connect with them that way, not just via groups. The first part of your post is easy: what, how, who, why. As long as we realize we are giving not just getting. Example is Bread Art Project. We want people to learn about bread and buy more of it. So we create a place where they can get something they want, too, i.e. chance to influence donations to Feeding America, and opportunity to make (play) with bread art. We target Moms who will do it with their kids. (The who.) And they participate because there’s plenty in it for them. Same goes for Art of the Trench, or Lacta movie, or Chalkbot, or Levi Girl, or Pepsi Refresh. Note however that the cases I refer to are all “creative” ideas and experiences. Not simply Facebook pages, but actual experiences with a POV and some fun and entertainment to them. So, two opportunities. Create community experiences that invite individuals to be part of them, appealing to the individual and building the community in the process; or mobilizing and interacting with an existing community, in which case you have to play even more on their terms.

  6. Matt Riley Says:

    Hi Mike,
    Great reminder of fundamental building blocks. It made sense to me to include an audit of the existing networks(the online social kinds) that your people already utilise to connect- ultimately finding gaps where these existing offerings are not fulfilling needs. Basically find opportunities to create utilities that will have long term value and not just gimmicky campaign ideas.
    Great post.

  7. John Winsor Says:

    Mike -

    Really great thinking. I’m really digging the way that lot’s of people, collectively, are starting to think and share about a new framework. When I first started writing about co-creation in 2003 I couldn’t have imagined that the power of digital technology would allow for collective intelligence to flourish.

    I look forward to more of your thinking.

    JW


  8. Nice post – agree with your overall thoughts and approach. Really smart. Key question to think about – in taking the consumer perspective, should your mdoel elevate the mode, mood, and mindset of the consumer as being paramount to understanding the potential to initially engage and attract them in the first place?


  9. [...] this great post by Mike Arauz on design framework and process for a community centered [...]


  10. really great post mike.
    what I’m really appreciating about this is the practical mix and match guide. There’s been a lot of great theory written about using crowds and case studies of it after the fact, but to see it boiled down into “okay, here’s the elements to mix and match from day one” is powerful in its clarity. thanks


  11. Mike,

    I love this post and can’t wait for the slide share of this thinking. I wish I had more examples of this that I have done myself, but atlas I don’t have much experience in crowd sourcing on a mass level.

    As a planner I once recruited a panel of 20+ people and created a private Blog where my creative director and I provided challenges to the panel once a week. The challenges had to be documented and uploaded back to the blog where they were scored for participation. The top panelists at the end of the 4 month project got bonuses. We planned each challenge very carefully and went through many of the questions that you explained here, I just wish the challenges were open for everyone except for a select few.


  12. Solid and thought-provoking as always Mike. Worthy of a discussion, or better yet, a workshop for clients.


  13. [...] Community Centered Collective Action Design Framework: Brands need a method for aligning what’s important to the brand with what’s important to the [...]


  14. [...] Arauz provides a framework for community centred collective action. I particularly like visual highlighting the who, what, how and why towards the end of the [...]


  15. [...] and I have been doing a ton of thinking and work around how to engage crowds and communities in meaningful new ways, and we think that this [...]


  16. [...] is pretty straightforward. If you’re creating a program – or ideally, a product – that creates collective action, you’re creating an amazing foundation for a next-generation loyalty program. If people are [...]


  17. [...] Need a glossary? Here you go, stolen from Mike’s post on the topic: [...]


  18. [...] pieces of an Integrated Loyalty Strategy Framework, which I’ve layered with the Collective Action Design Framework and the Satisfaction Variable Performance [...]


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