Prototyping the Community Builder Action Cards

The second book i wrote about Social Leadership is called ‘My 1st 100 Days’: it does not deal with the overarching concept, or a detailed model, but rather is centred around ‘action days’, and activities that take less than five minutes to do, but which are done every day, and each of which provide experience of Social Leadership in action, or the reflective space to build understanding. It’s a model of ‘theory into action’, where overthinking things can be a hindrance. I kind of like writing in both spaces: about ideas, and about pragmatic action. In that vein, through this year i have been prototyping approaches to doing something similar around my Community Building work.

The Community Builder Guidebook, and Trust Guidebook, have explored the research into Communities and broader social structures, as well as some practical guidance on how to nurture and grow them, but i wanted to build out a really distributed and practical tool.

I have not been confident of the time to write another 100 Days book right now (the experience of crowd funding and illustrating that last one was quite a shock to the system), or at least, not yet. And in any event, there is one specific mechanism of Communities that i want to tie into: social currencies, and the trading of these. So a trading card game seemed appropriate.

Thus were born the Community Builder Action Cards: over 100 of them so far, of which i hope to end up with a tested deck of 52.

The idea is simple: within a Community, somebody is nominated as the Dealer: they hold the deck and hand out one card to each member. People can they either play the card, or trade it. Some cards you are allowed to trade back to the dealer, others you can only trade after you have played them, and some you just get to keep.

A couple of years ago i prototyped a not dissimilar deck around Social Leadership, where we used QR codes to scan and track the actual cards through a Community. I may revisit that when i can shift these to a digital format, perhaps trading through an App, but for now, they are physical. Pleasantly real.

The trick with these things is to make them easy to action, but challenging enough, fun to use, but also provocative. But not too provocative… hence the need to prototype in both open and closed communities.

When i comes to Community Building, the likelihood is that the cards themselves are really a proxy for ‘connection’. Almost every card requires you to have a conversation with a Community you know, or one that you do not, with a person you are familiar with, or with a stranger. A few are reflective, and some are explicitly directive, but most provide a space, provocation, context, and opportunity, to act and learn.

About julianstodd

Author and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the Social Age. I’ve written ten books, and over 2,000 articles, and still learning...
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