Build Your Community
1 | Understand
1 | Understand
First step of the process is to have an initial but clear idea of who your allies are.
Easily, you can start defining the people involved in founding the project, those who will be designing and steering forward the process, also coordinating all the actions. This team will give the first impulse and direction to the whole project. But it won’t work alone.
The project core team will need to build a strong and conscious community, involved at all stages of the project development in order to create shared meaning, ownership and sustainability. With the word “community” we refer to all the people and organizations who will be affected by the existence of this project: members/shareholders, final users, partners, sponsors, service providers, beneficiaries of the services, including events and training activities participants, citizens living nearby, institutions. That’s why the very first chapter of the toolkit is called “Build your Community” and it shows how the community can gather and get involved.
This toolkit is meant to be an hands-on instrument for working with all these parties, it’s a vehicle for sharing goals and ideas, for building together valuable solutions.
Once you have defined, with the project core team, what is the main topic you want to explore, it’s time to find out the existing key players, already active and committed to the chosen topic: they could be the leaders of a specific field or sector, setting its trends, or they could be actors carrying out ordinary activities related to that sector.
You can use the Actors Map tool or the Openness tool to map actors and leaders involved within your topic in the area where you plan to launch the project, as well as the relationships between them. You will then define what you can learn from them and at what level you expect to get them onboard.
Do you know the context where the project will take place? Not the specific street nor the district, but the complex system of social and economic aspects, the constraints and opportunities related to the topic you are going to deepen.
In order to really identify and understand the needs to which you want to give a meaningful answer, it is necessary to analyze the context (e.g. demographic, historical, political, geographic and economic information). Before starting this kind of analysis, it’s important to identify and share with all the team “What, exactly, do we want to know?”. Define one broad research question that will help you guide the exploration process towards the research objectives.
After formulating the research question, don’t forget to set a methodology (e.g. qualitative, quantitative, mixed method etc) and to define the sources of information you will use (e.g. internet, academic papers, public statistics, interaction with local people, survey, library, newspaper etc.). Last but not least, put a limit to the exploration phase: define how much data you need to collect and establish a timeplan in order to not get lost among all the information.
If you have done all of the preparatory work, now it’s time to collect data! You can do it individually or in couples or little groups. You can implement a preparatory research, organise secondary data research and frame the system you are going to influence. This toolkit also provides guidance for conducting assessments of community needs and resources.
After you have collected data, go back to your team and work together to code them: download collectively all the data, quotes, insights and information so that everybody can visualize them and then start clustering. May you find out there are gaps, missing or partial information don’t panic: you can redo the process to try to fill those gaps (always setting methods, goals and limits to the iterations).
The process of clustering and coding data will guide you towards the identification of real needs, threats and opportunities you could work on with your project.
Once you have explored the context features and needs, you and your team are now ready to answer the “why” question: why does this project have a reason to exist? This question will guide you towards the definition of the long-term impact you want to achieve, also known as “Vision”. The Vision can be defined together with your team and then it will be shared and later improved with the community you are going to engage.
First of all, start organizing a co-creation session with the team and build a first shared and provisional Vision. The team should identify a clear Vision and purpose on what drives you and what is the value that you aim to bring in the local context. Follow these tips to get a unique and clear vision statement.
Then, the vision statement needs to be detailed with progressive and concrete actions, aligned with the long term impact, which could take place in the near future. This is the moment to define with your team a shared draft of Theory of Change. This tool can help you during a co-creation session with your team.
“A theory of change is a detailed description of how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context. It is an approach that is often used in the nonprofit or social enterprise sector to define long-term goals for social change, and then map backwards from them to identify the necessary preconditions to realize the desired outcome. The Theory of Change explains “Why we do what we do, What we do, and How we do it.”
Finally, you are now able to define the Value Proposition: the added value your project will bring within your territory and community, that will show up in the world why it is different from the others. A value proposition refers to the value you promise to deliver and why a customer should choose your project instead of another. The Value Proposition makes the Vision more tangible, it helps visualize the value you want to create and defines the most important components of your offering. You can co-create with your team a first draft of Value Proposition using the Strategyzer’s Value Proposition Canvas.
Project code: 2018-1-BE01-KA202-038599