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Hackathon Pilot: Passion within Organizations and Communities within Communities by Alberto Blanco

by Chris Grams on April 18, 2011


chris-grams's picture

Hackathon Pilot: Passion within Organizations and Communities within Communities by Alberto Blanco

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 fourth post in a series where pilot members have synthesized some of our learnings from Sprint #1. Today's synthesis post comes from Alberto Blanco.

Passion within Organizations and Communities within Communities
by Alberto Blanco

The Hackathon Pilot began a few weeks ago and started with a pair of questions: name five successful communities of passion and two to five communities of passion to which you belong. A simple copy-and-paste task, isn't it? Well, not at all.

What happened when most of our pilot members--including myself--attempted to answer those little questions was that we had some difficulty articulating good examples of a successful communities of passion. In my mind, this confirmed a disturbing truth: we are still surrounded and even immersed in a dispassionate world of grey furniture and unproductive meetings.

However, the more we chewed up the questions, the more we started to sense there is indeed passion out there. In fact, there are many organizations paving the way to achieve our management moonshot of enabling communities of passion. Those organizations, whether they are well defined or loosely defined in their structure, share common traits. Perhaps they hold the secret to eliciting passion in every single organization—no matter how dark the furniture or endlessly boring the meetings.

Sprint #1, as a research experience, gave us some fruitful and enriching discussions and a great many inspirational examples to draw from as we continue our work. We have learned a bit more about what human passion means and how it could be identified. Many of us have also acknowledged, on a personal level, our role in our own communities in ways we hadn’t thought about until now.

Here are two of my key observations:

Communities within Communities

Shortly after the pilot began, we began to discuss platform communities that enable the creation of sub-communities. Thus, they share a purpose, follow a code of conduct, but fulfill the mission with slightly independent settings. One pilot member, Sam Folk-Williams, was the first to bring this subject to the table. Facebook and Twitter, for instance, are good examples of communities that have other communities within them.

Passion More Prominent in the Third Sector Than the First

When we talk about passion, the third sector corporations and other informal organizations came quickly to mind. Not-for-profit corporations, open-source projects, charity, volunteer technical communities, volunteering in general, self-expression/self-reliance experiences, and many others are imbued with the energetic passion that first sector corporations and governmental organization lack. In our research, the vast majority of communities of passion listed in our discussions could be classified under third sector/other type criteria. Here are some examples the group collected:

  • 12-step fellowships
  • Kiva
  • Netmuns
  • Ushahidi
  • One Laptop per Child
  • Fedora Documentation Project
  • Leadership Victoria
  • Gamming Communities
  • Tea Party

There is Light at the End of the Tunnel

It is clear to me and many others that we have a real challenge in enabling communities of passion in traditional management 1.0 organizations. Fortunately, some big steps have already been made by several first/second sector corporations, and we identified many of these companies in the pilot.

At the end of this sprint, we have not only come up with a list of 100+ communities of passion. We have also liberated a profound inspirational and collaborative spirit that will become the raw material helping feed our subsequent sprint sessions. From the Hackathon Pilot, we extensively invite all of you, fellows and visionary mixers, to collaborate with us in this challenging but highly rewarding task: to reinvent management by enabling communities of passion.

We love to hear ideas—especially the craziest ones—and we’ll keep you posted.

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alberto-blanco's picture
Hi Deb/Sam,

Thanks for your comments!

I also like the idea of a "community platform" This concept bring us the possibility to create communities of passion even in dispassionate environments.


sam-folk-williams's picture
Alberto - I really like the idea of a "community platform" that communities are built on top of. When I was thinking of FB and twitter containing many communities (some of which are communities of passion, and several of which are not), this concept of the platform didn't really occur to me. I work in the enterprise software industry, so the concept of platform is a very familiar one; I like the idea of working with this metaphor....
deborah-mills-scofield's picture
Alberto - thank you for a great summary and synthesis -- deb