Communicating In A Regional Community

Distributed Team Communications Grid

In yesterday’s post I estimated the potential size of the regional TIE community (Tech, Innovators, Entrepreneurs) in NE Wisconsin.

Today I’ll start a multi-post conversation about communicating within that regional community. This topic was prompted by reading “How we Communicate at Automattic.” Alister Scott, an Automattician, writes about how most communications at his distributed automattic logocompany are asynchronous and fall into one of three categories; conversation, discussion, or publication.

“…I believe the reason that communication works well at Automattic is that everyone is distributed, so on an level playing field, and this means they can live in any timezone in the world. This also means any communication needs to be asynchronous…

Whilst email is an asynchronous communication method it is a terrible one at that…One reason email is bad is that you can’t ‘opt-in’ to a work email chain going on, so for this reason it is often the case of additional people being CC’d into the conversation ‘just in case they’re interested…One of the problems about email communication is that people try to use it for different types of communication, from a quick email to your colleague about lunch, to discussing a new HR policy, or being informed about new starters/leavers.

I’ve held in my mind an idea about different types of communication for a while now, and when I saw how communication works at Automattic it perfectly fit into this model:

communication grid, Alister Scott

The important thing to realize about this communications model is that any level of communication is opt-in.

I can opt-in to joining whichever Slack channels I choose, the same applies for ‘following’ a P2 site’s articles, or choosing to read the Field Guide. Yes, there are ‘essential’ P2s and Slack channels, but the choice is ultimately up to the individual what they join/follow/read, unlike included on email threads by various people…”

Regional TIE Community Communications

Although they are two very different groups, there are some parallels between Automattic and the NE Wisconsin TIE community regarding their communications needs. First, wisconsin red NEthey’re both a medium size group (50 – 5000 people). Second, most members of the group don’t work in the same building or even the same city. Third, both groups have relatively good internet access and familiarity with online communications tools.

Those similarities mean that at least some of Automattic’s communications methods and logic should apply to the NE Wisconsin TIE community. We could set up a Slack team for conversations, or we could possibly just create a TIE community channel on the existing NE Wisconsin Slack team.

The TIE community could use a TIE website if there was interest or need for an equivalent IndieWebCampto the Automattic Field Guide. An example of how that might work is the IndieWeb site. It would probably make the most sense to create that type of a site after the TIE community has been around for a couple years and has agreed on content or documentation which has value in being published.

The real question in the early days of the TIE community is the discussion stage of communicating — documenting worthwhile discussions and conclusions about topics of importance to the TIE community. The biggest potential problem or roadblock I foresee for using P2 posts (or their equivalent) is that Automatticians have a much higher level of commitment to each other and to their company than TIE community members will have to each other or to the community.

If we decide to connect and build the TIE community in NE Wisconsin, one of the early topics of discussion will be about how to communicate effectively within the community!

Thanks for writing your post, Alister!


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