Community Management is kind of like Cooking

Posted on 11 April 2011


Working on a new recipe tonight.

I’m making a stuffed flank steak. So far I’ve seasoned the meat with shallots, cilantro, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, Chilis, and lime juice. Also added some Gournay cow’s milk cheese, NOMS!

Next, I’m adding either Swiss chard or spinach and then some panko or other filler…rice maybe? Not sure.

That’s how I like to cook…with whatever I’ve got. It’s the same when managing a community. Sometimes you’ve got to make the best with what you’ve got! There is no recipe or measuring guide…it’s about taking inventory and putting it all on the line.

Sometimes you burn things, that just how things work.  The truth is that you’ll never cook a really great dish and be able to call it your own if you’re following a recipe.  All great recipes are culled from a bunch of failed ones!  Keep doing YOUR thing but learn from your mistakes.  With cooking it’s easy to figure out thatanchovies and strawberries don’t go together…it’s hard to make those types of determinations with a community.  Take informed chances and risk something once in a while!

You’ll eventually come up with a really good recipe you’ll be able to use regardless if your in-laws OR your boss comes over for dinner.


2 responses to Community Management is kind of like Cooking

  • This is such a great analogy!

    Sometimes when I’m in the kitchen I’m trying a recipe for the first time, and I read what others have done so I can learn from their work. When thinking about new strategies for community management, I read a lot of blogs and look at other communities to see what’s working for them and what comes out flavorless.

    A lot of my best recipes are things that I feel like I know by gut instinct, and I worry that I can’t tell my boss, “I just know it will work.” The truth is in cooking and community management, I’ve done so much reading, talking, learning, trying that a lot of what I learned now feel like common sense to me. I’m in a phase now where I don’t always have to explain why and how I know that sweet potatoes will be a great addition to chili – I can just do it.

    Being too protective of my kitchen means I don’t get to experience new ideas, new recipes, new ways to make risotto that don’t involve stirring constantly (it’s true.) Sometimes the best things happen when I let my community answer each others’ questions, and bring their own ideas to the table.

    The best recipes do come from the failed ones – and learning to build on the great ones. My aforementioned chili can sometimes be not great, because I do it differently every time. Some chili nights are better than others because of that. The first time I made roast chicken, it worked great. Then as I continued to make it I figured out what made it successful the first time and expanded on that. Community management is the same way – what works? Why? How do I make that scalable?

    Great post. I will come back to this analogy often!

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