Skip to main content
Enterprise Agile Planning Image

This post is from the CollabNet VersionOne blog and has not been updated since the original publish date.

Last Updated Feb 18, 2010 — Enterprise Agile Planning expert

Hold On

Enterprise Agile Planning

The amount of control a community has over process and direction within a project has recently come up in a situation I’ve been involved with and I think it’s a great topic for a post since it strikes at the heart of many company’s trials and tribulations in creating vibrant communities.  The real question in these situations is not one of control but of trust.  Can you just be along for the ride and let someone else influence your project even if you don’t agree with everything they do?

Many organizations and people find it difficult to let go and allow their communities to shape the overall direction and goals of their projects.  They fear that by allowing users to get involved at a deeper level chaos will ensue and they’ll be mired in endless debate over what they perceive as insignificant issues.  However, the opposite of control is not chaos, the opposite of control is trust. Trust that you’re not the only one who has good ideas.  Trust that even if it doesn’t follow your established processes it might be okay.  Trust that, you don’t know everything!

This lack of trust is one of the biggest reasons your community is not growing and it’s not a lack of trust in your project (well maybe it is ;), it’s that you don’t trust your community!  This is especially common in enterprises that have well established processes or in any company that maintains a title of Senior Vice President of anything:). In larger organizations that have worked hard to develop processes for product development, marketing, and sales, it’s hard to find someone in command willing to allow control to slip through their fingertips and into the community and shape their baby in some way they don’t agree with or that their processes can’t handle. But that’s what it takes to grow your brand and community, hopping on and letting your community take you where it wants to go.

One of the best books I read in all of 2009 was Brand Hijack by Alex Wipperfurth.  In it he details the making of many brands that allowed themselves to be hijacked by their communities to become successes: Dr Marten, PBS (Pabst Blue Ribbon not the broadcasting service:), Red Bull, and others.  All of these brands did something unique, instead of trying to define themselves in a traditional marketing sense, they let their fans influence and define the brand.  And that’s what you need to do in order to grow your fan base… let go.

Don’t confuse letting go with abandoning all your processes, my point is not to let your community suddenly start running everything without any leadership from you.  The point I’m trying to make is you need to stop trying to control EVERYTHING.  Pick your battles and arm yourself with good arguments.  Don’t use coercion due to your position or ignore your communities input, use your communication channels to guide your community during those times when you see it straying from the path.  Having this blend of give and take will allow your community to feel a sense of ownership and … start prospering.

More from the Blog

View more
Apr 08, 2021

Making IT services more agile

Enterprise Agile Planning
The agile revolution completely transformed how we create digital prod ...
Read More
Feb 14, 2021

Reflecting on the 20th anniversary of the Agile Manifesto

Enterprise Agile Planning
Over the past 20 years, it’s been amazing to watch an idea from ...
Read More
Feb 08, 2021

How does agile apply to an entire organization?

Enterprise Agile Planning
Before we dive into the main subject of this blog post, it is importan ...
Read More
Feb 03, 2021

It took a pandemic to realize why digital transformation actually matters

Enterprise Agile Planning
Before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19, businesses across the globe ...
Read More
Contact Us