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Mindset: Focus on value & vision, let the consequences unfold

Matthew and I had an interesting back and forth on how to increase engagement and contribution in the forum.

That reminded of a recurring discussion I was having as the president of a TM club.
The discussion was: how to increase membership.

And I realize that it's a recurrent theme on many efforts:

  • How do we increase visits
  • How do we increase sales
  • How do I enlarge my social circle

There is noting inherently wrong with the "increasing" approach.
But it that it can come with trade-offs.
The tradeoffs are:

  • A focus on "more" can mean less focus on vision-related goals
  • More can mean decreased average quality
  • More can mean more of your time plowed into that effort (and less on other priorities)

Back at Toastmaster as for this forum, my answer was the same:

We don't really "have" to increase anything.

At the club, my focus were equally on having the best environment to learn public speaking and communication and to have the best environment of supportive, friendly people -a group of friends, rather than "just" people with the same goal-.

Then, if more people want to join, great.
If not, great.
The result, in the club case, was a major influx of new members.
Interestingly, we had to start discussing and implementing restrictions to indiscriminate access to maintain the original vision.
Because the priority was the original vision, and not the people joining.

For the forum, it's the same: the goal is to be a high-quality, value-adding place of supportive members centered around the development of social and emotional intelligence, practically-oriented social strategies, the advancement of power dynamics knowledge, and the general betterment of the self.
The forum serves that goal both with the content of the forum, and with the interaction among members -the thread on the feedback being of great help in that sense-.

Edit: 
Just to be clear, this is not to say that Matthew wanted numbers instead of quality -probably the opposite is true-.
Matthew's thread started with a great idea and suggestion, and turned into a great exchange.

If some people are interested in that, they might join.
But the priority is on who joins, and whether they fit that goal both in terms of value-adding, and personality, rather than "how many".

If an additional member is value negative, then the forum is best served to shed that member and stay true to that original vision.

At the extreme, the forum is better off with single member and a post every 6 months, but staying true to the original ideal, rather than adding more people and losing that original vision.

LIMITATION OF THIS MINDSET / APPROACH

I'll be the first to say you can't, and shouldn't go 100% with this mindset on all fields, or at all times.

If you got a business, you gotta sell, so measuring what sells and what doesn't can be crucial.

And if you're learning, quantity of experiences might be more important.
Think of dating for example, rather than starting out with a vision of a woman and never dating until you find her, you're probably better served going on lots of dates to improve yourself -the value you bring-, and collect those data points that will form the foundation of your future vision -who exactly you want-.

But whenever you can afford it, I think it's a great mindset to have.
It can also be applied to social strategies, for example:

  • Friends / social circle: the goal is to have high quality, value-adding friends, and not on developing a social circle based on quantity. "Only when I find the right fit I'll pursue a friendship"
  • Relationship / Partner: the goal is to have a high-quality partner, within a positive, value-adding relationship. "Only when a find someone who fits the bill I'll consider a relationship"
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on February 15, 2021, 4:18 pm

Matthew and I had an interesting back and forth on how to increase engagement and contribution in the forum.

That reminded of a recurring discussion I was having as the president of a TM club.
The discussion was: how to increase membership.

And I realize that it's a recurrent theme on many efforts:

  • How do we increase visits
  • How do we increase sales
  • How do I enlarge my social circle

100% very important topic.

There is noting inherently wrong with the "increasing" approach.
But it that it can come with trade-offs.
The tradeoffs are:

  • A focus on "more" can mean less focus on vision-related goals
  • More can mean decreased average quality
  • More can mean more of your time plowed into that effort (and less on other priorities)

Back at Toastmaster as for this forum, my answer was the same:

We don't really "have" to increase anything.

Boom. The mark of a great leader.

At the club, my focus were equally on having the best environment to learn public speaking and communication and to have the best environment of supportive, friendly people -a group of friends, rather than "just" people with the same goal-.

Then, if more people want to join, great.
If not, great.
The result, in the club case, was a major influx of new members.
Interestingly, we had to start discussing and implementing restrictions to indiscriminate access to maintain the original vision.
Because the priority was the original vision, and not the people joining.

Once again, great leadership. Visions can evolve, but this mindset is key.

For the forum, it's the same: the goal is to be a high-quality, value-adding place of supportive members centered around the development of social and emotional intelligence, practically-oriented social strategies, the advancement of power dynamics knowledge, and the general betterment of the self.
The forum serves that goal both with the content of the forum, and with the interaction among members -the thread on the feedback being of great help in that sense-.

If some people are interested in that, they might join.

I'm in! 😉

But the priority is on who joins, and whether they fit that goal both in terms of value-adding, and personality, rather than "how many".

If an additional member is value negative, then the forum is best served to shed that member and stay true to that original vision.

Key point.

At the extreme, the forum is better off with single member and a post every 6 months, but staying true to the original ideal, rather than adding more people and losing that original vision.

LIMITATION OF THIS MINDSET / APPROACH

I'll be the first to say you can't, and shouldn't go 100% with this mindset on all fields, or at all times.

If you got a business, you gotta sell, so measuring what sells and what doesn't can be crucial.

And if you're learning, quantity of experiences might be more important.
Think of dating for example, rather than starting out with a vision of a woman and never dating until you find her, you're probably better served going on lots of dates to improve yourself -the value you bring-, and collect those data points that will form the foundation of your future vision -who exactly you want-.

But whenever you can afford it, I think it's a great mindset to have.

Yes.

It can also be applied to social strategies, for example:

  • Friends / social circle: the goal is to have high quality, value-adding friends, and not on developing a social circle based on quantity. "Only when I find the right fit I'll pursue a friendship"
  • Relationship / Partner: the goal is to have a high-quality partner, within a positive, value-adding relationship. "Only when a find someone who fits the bill I'll consider a relationship"

Yes. I think that what you're saying is that quality and quality have a time and place. First, in my social circle I had to meet people (quantity first) and now I can sort through them. At the beginning I was doing the opposite strategy and it was not working.

The forum has actually many members by the way. However, so far, most of them have filtered themselves out as contributors. Every day I see new members. They just self-select not to write on the forum for many reasons.

See what I did here? I challenged the frame: "there is not enough members" and I say this is a wrong issue. There are enough members. I think maybe what Matthew you wanted to express was : "I'd like to share and exchange with more people on this forum". That is a completely different value proposition.

Every group has different forming stage. We are at the stage where we are forming the group's core identity and core members. We are the core members. With time other members will come and the group will grow. That is the nature of the groups. So what we are doing now is building the group identity. Over time, people who will identify with the values of the group will join. It always happen like that.

So my opinion:

  1. The forum membership is fine (just as toastmasters was fine)
  2. This is a normal occurrence at this stage of development of the group: developing an identity/values
  3. More people will join over time: it is always the case
  4. Quantity and Quality have a time and a place: in the case of the forum, I think quality is the right focus as there are already plenty of members who self-select as non-contributors. Provocation here is on purpose but it also describes the reality.

Cheers!

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Lucio Buffalmano

In general, I am on the same page as this.
You should not sway from the vision to generate more buzz or attract more people.
I don't have much to add on this point.

I wouldn't say the limitations of this approach because vision and value are always a priority.
But I would expand on the cases when it is important to focus on getting more outreach.

How Does the Vision Affect Your Priorities?

I think that it depends on the vision as well.
Do you want to serve a small group of people with more concentrated value?
Or would you like to give small amounts of values to a larger group of people?

For learning and growth, it makes sense to keep the group small and cater to the more advanced people.
Then the community builds upon itself and grows multiplicatively.
As Lucio says, advanced people like advanced people because they can add value to one another.

If the objective is to get a vaccination out as fast as possible, then it may make sense to spend quite a bit of effort on the distribution as well.
Not sure if the above is the best example. I'm not an expert on vaccination.
Or a new technology for the mass market like voice recognition and a new phone.

Visibility of the Value

In this thread, we talked about the feature selection
Infographics: sharing, previews and feedback

If the inherent value of the service/product is very visible (also learnt from the Workplace module in Power University), it makes sense to spend much less time promoting and increasing the numbers.

For valuable content, I think that it is very visible towards the people who care about the content.
As such, less promotion and packaging need to be done.

For things that take a longer time to see a return on investment (e.g. investment products), maybe more outreach is needed.

Does Scale Matter?

Sometimes scale matters for cost-effectiveness.
This would be more for social media and marketplaces though.
It does not matter so much on quality forums and high-quality courses.

In this case, the scale is built into the vision.
So, you are working on your vision when you scale.

Hunting Down High-Value Opportunities

Sometimes, it may be good to look out for opportunities that you need to reach out for.
Again, this is an opportunity cost of time, attention and value.

For example, for enterprise sales, you may need to hunt down the biggest clients.
It is probably challenging for them to understand how your complex solution fits their problem as well.

Or getting special guests in your event.
Maybe organising a complex project.

PROBLEMS IN COMPANIES WHO I FEEL LOST TRACK OF VISION

Facebook is getting boring because the company has been focused on making it addictive.
Now there's so much junk that people are getting bored with the network.

Facebook kind of forgot about their vision of connecting people.
A large amount of shallow content and ads is not really contributing to people's feeling of connectedness.

Apple has been churning out new versions of the same product.
It has lost the "vision" feeling to me since Steve Jobs has no longer been the leader.

I have a fresh example of this “Quality vs Quantity”.

I’m organizing a board game this week. And the game is better at 5 people than 4. So I hesitated to invite housemate R. as he social climbed several times on me. So he started to raise some red flags. I thought: f##k it: Actually, I’m going to learn from this and defend. But it’s a game where if you start with a team you have to make the next games with the same team ideally.

And also because higher quality people could not come.

So I invite him despite my guts telling me the oppposite. And he answers “Of course my old man. What times at your place”. So he’s already borderline disrespectful in text. So I decided: I changed my mind I’m not going to invite him. I’m going to cancel and find an excuse.

Quality over Quantity. Always. Very important Life principle and value.

This also plays within a team. When they found out that it’s better to avoid having 1 taker than 2-3 givers. Recruitment is 95%

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Lucio Buffalmano