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Hackathon Pilot: Nine Types of Successful Communities of Passion by Michi Komori

by Chris Grams on April 18, 2011


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Hackathon Pilot: Nine Types of Successful Communities of Passion by Michi Komori

A few weeks ago, we kicked off the Hackathon Pilot, an experiment enabling passionate MIXers to collaboratively "write the chapter" on how to enable communities of passion within our organizations (learn more about the pilot here and here). This is the fifth post in a series where pilot members have synthesized some of our learnings from Sprint #1. Today's synthesis post comes from Michi Komori.

Nine Types of Successful Communities of Passion
by Michi Komori

“One person with passion is better than 40 people merely interested”.
- E.M.Forster

I believe that Mr. Forster's observation underscores the essence of the goal of the Hackathon Pilot team, which is to explore and design a framework(s) allowing every person in an organization to be passionate about their work and workplace.

For Sprint #1, 65 members of the Hackathon Pilot team provided input. It is a worldwide group, including people from North America, Europe, Africa, South America, Asia and Australia. I myself am a Canadian living in Toronto (which, according to the United Nations, is the most multicultural city in the world).

Are there some communities that are likely to be more passionate than others? Are there some common touch points for success? Are some drivers transferable? Are some communities more sustainable than others?

Seeking some insight, I reviewed many of the communities shared by fellow contributors and broke them down into clusters. The following are loose groupings and do not represent a comprehensive picture of all responses.

  • Open Source Technology: It is probably no surprise that open source-related technology groups such as Linux, Wikipedia, Mozilla, Drupal and the Fedora project were cited frequently as successful communities of passion.
  • Social/Leisure: There was some debate and discussion as to whether social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook could be considered communities. While the platforms may or may not be communities per se, they certainly enable the development of communities of passion. There were a number of responses sharing a social and leisure focus, including the Burning Man Festival; TED; Do Lectures (U.K.); Hay Festival (International); traditional Irish Music sessions and the Linchpin Network.
  • Sports: I am sure most of us would consider sports teams, athletes, sports fans and national sports organizations to be communities of passion.  Some of the communities identified include: the NBA; U.S. college sports; the Manchester United Football team; Collingwood Football club; the Green Bay Packers; surfers; the Cleveland Browns and the NCAA March Madness tournament.
  • Social Purpose: Challenging human injustice and/or working to affect social change is endemic to a civil society. Social purpose communities of passion identified include:
    • Political activism – the Tea Party, the US civil rights movement
    • Education - “Educate Our State”, Teachers' Leaders Network, Leadership Victoria, the Center for Ethical and Sustainable Business (San Francisco State University)
    • Other groups : The Association of Sustainable Practitioners; Ulster Project International and Lutheran Volunteer Corps
  • Philanthropy: There were many philanthropic organizations identified as successful communities of passion. Some are: Kiva; L'Arche; One Laptop Per Child; Ushahidi; Doctors without Borders; Rotary International and Missions of Charity.
  • The Arts: In the Arts sector, the Impressionists movement; Etsy and Kickstarter were mentioned.
  • Institutions: From an institutional perspective, West Point, Harvard Business School, the 509th Airborne Combat team, the Rangers and the Delta Force were cited.
  • Kids at Play: The youngest generation was included. Who would disagree that kids playing hide and seek represent the quintessence of a community of passion?
  • Corporate Brands: There were several commercial products/brands that reflect a community of passion. They include: Harley Davidson, Harry Potter, Star Wars,  Ferrari, Fun Theory (Volkswagen),  EBay, Swarovski Crystal Society and Flickr. The following companies were recognized as representing successful communities of passion: W.L.Gore & Associates, Whole Foods, the Richards Group and IDEO.

In response to Question #2 with respect to personal involvement in communities of passion, some of the most frequent reasons for being involved include: wanting to help others and being gratified to see positive outcomes, contributing to meeting challenges in the workplace, maintaining personal contact with people they care about, being inspired by the community members and being associated with a successful community.

I believe that the Hackathon Pilot, with the wisdom and guidance of Chris Grams will have a sense of direction as well as an understanding that the outcome is unknown and unpredictable. The fun lies in how we get there collectively.


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