9 community design
9 will be a wrap up from all the previous theme. The main question to
keep in mind this theme is: what do I now carry with me as being a
community designer? In the summary all theory will be shortly named
without much explanation, as the explanation can be found in one of
the other themes. In the essence, I will show my most important
insights in community design.
community is a group of people with one or more shared goals,
interests or ideas who need each other in some way.
Forms of a community are a community, network, common (an isolated
group, for example a cult), tribe (includes a leader) and hub (people
with different expertises and knowledge collaborate in an isolated
place). In such a community, societal issues may arise. At that
point, a community designer comes in to provide a helicopter view and
steer the process. The community designer steps out when it
recognizes the community as able to serve themselves effectively
again. (theme 1).
community designer works with organizations in a dynamic environment
whereby the ‘triple helix system’ may be clarifying.
This system includes three circles; the private, social and public
sector. The current global transition to society 3.0, makes an
organization (and community designer) operate in a few sectors at the
same time which cares for a dynamic environment – complicated and
complex. Everyone related needs to be taken into account and
therefore, we live in a participation society. Some of those
organizations operate in the fourth sector. The fourth sector equals
civil society, is for benefits and supports innovation. NGO’s
operate in the fourth sector. They are a blend of the private and
social sector and want to fulfill in their common interest by getting
help and attention of the citizens and government (theme 2). However,
there are many societal issues experienced by NGO’s: NGO’s want
to be non-political, want to be accountable ‘downward’ to donor
funds, want to focus on long-term structural change and want stronger
roots in society (theme 8).
the environment of an organization (and community designer), there
are stakeholders to collaborate with.
Stakeholders can affect or are affected by the achievements of the
organization’s objective. Most of the time, there are lots of
stakeholders which makes is necessary to regularly identify key
stakeholders and prioritize them. Identification can be done by
mapping stakeholders regarding the societal issue while using an
organization’s most important indicators, such as legitimacy,
urgency, power, position and values. The first three are used in a
‘Venn diagram’, but also a power-interest matrix or network
analysis will help identify and prioritize an organization’s
stakeholders (theme 3 and 4). Afterwards, these key stakeholders can
be grouped to engage them actively in the participatory system, where
the whole organization must embed and align the process. Such a
participatory system works best when stakeholder groups who show
resistance are included and empowered. Most important when
collaborating with stakeholders, is to build trust (theme 5, 6 and
prioritized and engaged the stakeholders of an organization, a few
theories and methods can be used to work together towards a strategic
After desk research is done, field research has to be carried out.
The traditional way is making a project plan which is about
collecting facts. The non-traditional way of making a game plan fits
the participatory system; the process which changes the mind-set of
stakeholders is more important than the outcome (theme 3). In this
process, the OWANS and SWANS are the starting point, after which the
seven stages, BSR’s five-step approach, a feasibility analysis or
support analysis will help stakeholders engage and assess strategic
options (theme 7).
essence of the subject based on my opinion and examples
having written all the theme pagers, I came to the realization that
it’s only nowadays that a community designer is much needed.
Before the rise of society 3.0, an organization could operate with
almost a static amount of stakeholders. These stakeholders were well
known by an organization, which made collaboration not that
difficult. However, with the rise of society 3.0, many organizations
were forced to work in a more dynamic environment with unstable
stakeholders. Often, this equals the civil society which is sensitive
for societal problems. Suddenly, a community designer is needed for
its helicopter few of all stakeholders to steer an organization into
the right direction.
think objective guidance in the change process is needed, since it’s
often about innovation, including trust.
Meaning that it’s new for all stakeholders, which makes making
progress more difficult. Facts aren’t case anymore, but
interpretations instead. Along with interpretations when working with
theory and methods, trust is a big thing to not each time question
every single detail.
put some theory into practice, I want to give an overall example of
Together with two other students we were asked as community designers
to help Nexus in its process. They stated their problem as ‘not
having a location’, but after some time we realized that ‘not
being recognized by the local government’ was their actual problem.
Together with them, we identified and grouped their external
stakeholders. After mapping and prioritizing key stakeholders, we
arranged a stakeholder meeting, including the local government. The
goal was to show the government how valuable the work of Nexus was by
letting the key stakeholders tell about their work related to Nexus.
Afterwards, the local government advised Nexus to first make a five
year business plan and that only then a location would be considered.
To our amazement, Nexus disagreed with making a five year business
plan. As community designers, we had to find out the reason why they
disagreed to continue the process from that point. It took some time
to find out that not only Nexus thought a five year business plan was
unnecessary, but they also considered themselves unable to make such
a plan. Therefore, we together organized a day to show everybody the
need of their work to afterwards make a business plan with the help
of their own stakeholders.