Jeff Atwood is a prominent programmer, and wrote this article about dealing with community feedback in his prominent programming community…but the lessons are 100% for coworking communities, too. These lessons become particularly pertinent to helping our communities scale beyond our grand openings.
Summarized and slightly interpreted for coworking:
1. 90% of all community feedback is crap. But that means that 10% of it is absolutely awesome.
Communities at scale trend towards these numbers – early on you’ll see much more absolutely awesome than 10%. I think that the “absolutely awesome” ratio can be maintained as better than 90/10 by following a lot of the guidelines below and making sure that you get your “first 10” members right.
2. Don’t get sweet talked into building a truck.
Hybrid solutions end up ultimately pleasing no-one. Pick one solution and execute it completely.
3. Be honest about what you won’t do.
Don’t be afraid to say no. We also do everything we can to explain what it would take to turn the no into a yes.
4. Listen to your community, but don’t let them tell you what to do.
Often when a question hits this list, we’re the wrong person to be asking – so we say “ask your community”.
That said, you don’t need to do exactly what they tell you. Their answers are clues, not directions. Look through their answers for what they really want. People can only ask for what they know is possible. It’s your job to introduce them to new possibilities. “If I had given people what they asked for, I would’ve built a faster horse” – Henry Ford.
5. Be there for your community.
This one is insanely underrated. People aren’t used to being listened to.
Sometimes, your members don’t need to you to do anything. Your instincts might tell you to respond to anything that happens, good or bad. 99% of the time – you just need to be present. Not just physically present, but mentally present. They need to know that you’re paying attention, and genuinely care.