Like everyone with a creative streak (most of us), I have loads of ideas. 1 in 10 of these works and makes some money. But several times a day that doesn’t stop me thinking ‘Good grief, this is a brilliant idea. It’ll change the world and make a fortune’

Now recently I’ve had several meetings which have been ‘explorations’. At the end of the meeting, there seems to be nothing to take forward, and no opportunities clarified. And during the meeting, I’ll have waxed lyrical over the many half-baked notions going round in this grey matter.

You won’t be surprised a slight unease starts to take hold here.

Leadership experts like to talk about transactional versus transformational approaches. The first involves ‘let’s scratch each others backs’ and the second involves leaps of faith and trust in which we enter into relationships and change, without expectation of any return. It’s all about taking the progress forward.

But creatives and entrepreneurs tend to have plenty of optimism and blind faith anyway. Transformation is our thing, we have to believe we can make stuff work. And we couple this belief with courage or foolhardiness, depending on your viewpoint.

And yes, free services and products build relationship, market and community. Chris Anderson’s Free is excellent on this.

But I can’t help feeling there’s an almost mystical belief prevailing at the moment that if you do stuff for free you will be rewarded. You won’t. Not unless people think what you produce is useful and helpful, and know where you are.

So if you want a meeting, please don’t be taken aback if I ask: ‘Are we both scratching here – or is transformation the goal?’ and decline if you can’t answer.

As my mother might say: ‘Forget your back, love. It’s your mouth that matters. Shut it’.

By szcz

2 thoughts on “I Scratch Your Back – When the Heck are you gonna Scratch Mine?”
  1. Interesting stuff this.
    I’m in the middle of trying to find out how many people actually contribute to online communities of practice.

    In the world I occupy the general rule seems to be that if you get 5% contributing to the community that’s a pretty good show.

    That leaves 95% (always been good at maths me) just using the resurces of the community or possibly not even reading what’s there. The dreaded lurkers.

    That’s quite a demand on the active contributors. There has to be a point where the active contributors get fed up of giving things away, stop doing it and the community of practice declines. Something for me to think about, particularly as they are being touted as a solution to many problems.

    1. Interesting to relate this to communities of practice. Lots of people are nervous about expressing themselves online I think – especially with regard to draconian employers. And my guess is quite a lot of online communities don’t work because there is not enough live meet-up.

      It’s like the early stages of any social interaction, isn’t it? You gather signals and clues before diving in. I just nearly left a Linked In Org Psych group cos one member was so dominating and condemning of who should belong and who shouldn’t ( leadership and management interest was pooh-poohed).

      But you know what? I’m staying for now when the time is right, will have my say… he could have completely skewed what community is really like…

      As ever so grand to hear from you, Pont

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