The word community has several meanings, it can be a group of people living in a particular area, a group of people who come together around a common interest,  and even a social state such as “the parents had a sense of community”.  In software, companies often develop robust user communities that actively engage in conversation around products, shared insights, learned lessons, and even offer support to fellow community members.  Cause communities are growing as increasing numbers of people come together to address topics such as DEI, climate change, food insecurity and many other important issues.

I acquired a newfound appreciation for the power of community when I was the GM for Bay to Breakers.  As stewards of this century old event, we were dealing with the impact of increasingly disruptive bandits, people who showed up on race day who were not registrants and there to party, not run. Typical races might see a small number of bandits but as with Bay to Breakers nothing was typical, our bandits were there to get their party on and numbered in the thousands.  Can you imagine running a software business where thousands of people hacked into your product having significant impact on your user community and operations? That was our reality, the goodwill for the event was being dramatically diminished because of the impact these bandits had on the residents along the course.  I sought counsel from veterans of city events and politics who encouraged me to engage more deeply with community organizations on this issue.  So, armed with data that encapsulated the problem, I met with community organizations to discuss a proposal that included a major shift in race day policy and logistics to minimize the event impact.  We incorporated feedback and garnered their support enabling us to secure backing of city leaders to proceed with the proposed changes.  Through collaboration with engaged, well organized community groups that were invested in the outcome, we were able to preserve this iconic, only in San Francisco event.  

Membership in communities can enrich our lives by creating a sense of belonging and provide a place to facilitate action for the benefit of others, not just ourselves.  This past year with the Pandemic demonstrates just how important communities can be for the greater good of everyone.  And in our increasingly connected world our communities are expanding, becoming more inclusive, diverse, and impactful.

My experience with communities has led me to join the team at Wiscle, whose mission is to provide a safe, secure place for members to freely collaborate with trusted teammates, have control of how and when their data is consumed, engage in communities with like-minded individuals, and to enrich their work life experience. 

We all have the ability to engage in communities we choose and in doing so the potential to impact the world around us.  

I would love to hear if/how you engage in the communities of interest to you… and if you want to check out Wiscle reach out to me at afang@wiscle.com!