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Scaling communities through chapters - a case study of Google Developer Groups with Alfredo Morresi and Van Riper

Posted Jan 27, 2023 | Views 315
# Community Roundtable
# Scaling
# Chapters
Van Riper
Van Riper
Van Riper
Developer Community Liaison @ Stellate

Van is a serial community organizer. He recently started a new role as the Developer Community Liaison at Stellate, a GraphQL company. He has 10+ years of experience working with communities of practice at a global scale. Prior to his transition into developer community work, Van was a UX designer/developer in Silicon Valley for decades. His lifelong passion for & exploration of well-being practices informs his philosophy and approach to sustainable developer community growth.

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Van is a serial community organizer. He recently started a new role as the Developer Community Liaison at Stellate, a GraphQL company. He has 10+ years of experience working with communities of practice at a global scale. Prior to his transition into developer community work, Van was a UX designer/developer in Silicon Valley for decades. His lifelong passion for & exploration of well-being practices informs his philosophy and approach to sustainable developer community growth.

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Alfredo Morresi
Alfredo Morresi
Alfredo Morresi
Senior Community Manager and Developer Relations @ Google

Developer Relations @ Google, leading teams working at the intersection of community and technology.

Founder of Italian Community Managers, CMX Milan host, public speaker, community scientist and developer. I love yellow, being a dad, free-software, running on the beach, snowboarding and Tiramis├╣.

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Developer Relations @ Google, leading teams working at the intersection of community and technology.

Founder of Italian Community Managers, CMX Milan host, public speaker, community scientist and developer. I love yellow, being a dad, free-software, running on the beach, snowboarding and Tiramis├╣.

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Alfredo Morresi and Van Riper have over a decade of experience at Google in developer relationship and community management. They will talk about their experiences in the context of the Google Developer Groups, a meta community program born in 2009 that has grown to 1,000+ chapters across 140 countries.

They discuss how to build a program at that scale with benefits for the company, benefits for the developer community, and benefits for the world.

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Thank you both for being here very much. I I'm not going to do it justice to introduce you both, so I'm going to let you do it yourselves. And and Van, we're going to we're going to kick off with you because I know you're your origin story in the community spaces also overlaps a lot with the Google developer groups.

And kind of our topic for today on scaling those. So take I would love to to hear from you. Great. Well, I'm glad to be here and yeah I was doing community work and a volunteer basis for almost 20 years actually before I started doing it professionally and I was doing Java, the Java user group work and well, and one of the most popular Java user groups in in the world and here in Silicon Valley.

And we would meet at Google and someone from Google came to our meetings once and said, you know, we really like what you're doing. We'd like to see if we could start piloting this idea of a Google developer group and would you be interested in running it. And the funny thing is, is we first we turned them down because it was going to be a lot of work for us because we were going to start writing the Java user groups that were going to have two meetings a month.

But then they did some things to help us see that it would be nice to have friends at Google and so we changed our minds and we started running meetings and then we started coming to Google I o and we would tell other people about running Google developer groups. And after two years of doing that, we did that in 2000 and 2010, and by the end of 2010 there are 180 Google developer groups in over 40 countries.

And the person who I've been working with as a 20% project, Stephanie Lu, said, Is there any chance you'd be interested in coming to Google and working full time on this? Because this was a 20% project for me and I want to get back to my regular job at about six months later. Once they open the record, I got through the, you know, the gantlet of Google.

I joined Google for my first full time job and then scaled this program up with folks like Alfredo helping me all over the world. The regional leads to where it is today. It was, you know, thousands more thousand chapters in over 100 countries. And, you know, just and we never imagined it was going to grow like it did.

Yeah. So that's my origin story. And the origin story, that's that's super cool. Incredible. And I think there's probably a fair amount of people that ended up in the community space almost circuitous and on accident once they found a love for Oh, this is what this is what it is. And this is what it's it's called Alfredo. We'll pick up the story with your background a little bit and then we'll jump back in.

I want to dig into those initial days for the Google developer group, but we'd love to hear a little bit about about you and your community background. Yes. So I was born as a software developer, literally born as a software developer. The first thing then I discovered this war when I was 14, more or less. But I was born as a software developer together.

Like in addition to, you know, what can we compute there? I always told myself I like computer, but I also like humans. So I don't want to be this kind of super focused nerd that, you know, love computer and computer only. And so I say, let's connect with other people and remember my very first community I founded and also attended was a Linux user.

You know, they are we were so sure that would have been the year of Linux on desktop, but we are still awaiting for this year. But it was, I don't know, like 20 years ago or even more. And so I built the Linux user group in my small town simply to find other people using Linux because, you know, at the time we had basically no idea of how they're like people using these strange OS.

Then I kept connecting to what I did during my worker to sharing knowledge. So I start working as a dot net developer and they help out a group of people running a dot net developer in my region. And then I move the close to Milan. I was from the center of Italy and I found that there were the years of mobile development in terms of the very beginning of and I met other Italians for a conference in London and we say, Look, this conference is great.

We want to bring it all to Italy. And we did them and we organized this conference for mobile developers, the community. And during one of these conferences, I had the occasion to talk with Google people because, you know, Google had Android. And so we asked for money to Google, but, you know, nothing happened. And so my starting with Google stuff there at the same time, like we also presented the Android topic to our GDG in Milan and they recorded me presenting this topic to fast forward personally to me, Hey, we are searching for this.

People like running community. I know you have one of them and I remember I was interviewed with my manager Van. It was Alejandro and that ended all me, by the way, are Franco. I saw you presenting in this gig. I understood nothing about what you have said because of course I present in Italian. But I like your attitude in moving, speaking, involving people.

I think you are the right person for getting this job. Boom. So extra. This is a poorly recorded presentation. I mean, I a little bit even scary to share the YouTube video of this presentation. We still exist, but it was it's super bad. No idea. But I mean, at the end that I reached there, I got the job also because my involvement with the G League, with the communities, a kind of a very clear example of you give to the community, sooner or later the community gives back to you.

There is no doubt on these. And then I was called to, you know, run the trailer in Italy, especially focusing on these GTD movement, the van dimension, the from Italy. I scaled also to other countries in Europe, then led the teams running like working with communes in Europe. And recently in the last three years I moved to a slightly different challenge, still focusing on GDG and the GDC community groups in the community operations team.

So leading Little League operations. I understand we have communities where people get passions, but we need to generate insights. We need to understand what these communities are doing and we built that these community operations team. And my mission is not now is to generate the insightful data from community activities in order to allow other people working with community to decide what they can do, how can they better plan for the next activities and the next the strategy.

I'm drawing a lot of similarity lines and both, I think, incredible journeys. Alfredo And at some point you and Jerry need to connect as well because the origin story there is almost the same of being a developer first and then realizing, Hey, I want to, I really like connecting other people to then take us back to the you gave I think the abbreviated the abridged very CliffsNotes version of the origin.

But one of the things that you both have shared with with me was the those early phases and focus of growing and scaling community. It matters kind of what what do you focus on? What don't you compromise? So I guess take us back to to that of like when when you first got started, I guess, where were your sights set in terms of where you thought this could go?

And then what did you focus on in the early, early days to to build? Well, you know, we got lucky in some degree because I know I know that it's better to go slow with the right people. You know, they said about, you know, you can go far with, you know, whatever. But it's it it's not just have it going get going with more people.

It's going with the right people. So it's better to go slow and build up a core, especially in scaling communities with local chapters, because what you're actually doing is building a community of community organizers. And so you want a good solid core there, and then they're going to actually do the work for you because they're going to attract other people to become organizers that are of similar ilk.

So, you know, so we just lucked out in that we were recruiting initially from the attendees of Google IO. So we we had a, you know, a good crop to be drawing from. But as we got farther into it, we got more visible and it was started happening just organically. We did have challenges and I had to learn about that because we just got lucky in the beginning.

For example, in India, it became a thing where students in India would started GDG chapter, just like you get something for their CV, and then as soon as they got a job, they would stop writing the the chapter, you know? And so we had to get a little bit more. We had to put some gates in to make sure, you know, like one of the things we did for student chapters was you actually had to have a faculty advisor, and that prevented the non-serious ones from actually going forward.

And nothing we did in India as we we had to focus at one point on the major markets first and get those solid and then expand out into other markets, you know, So you do need this skill smartly, I guess is what I'm saying was were the Google developer groups always chapter based or was that a intentional decision for that, a chapter based approach in that strategy to have it localized in that way?

It was always I mean, honestly, it was modeled after the Java User Group program because that was when I was a Java champion in and I actually had helped the people that ran that program. You know, one of the things I learned is that like, for example, if you have organizers coming to a conference, it's a great opportunity to get them together for a meal before the conference because they may know of each other online, but they've never actually been met face to face.

So you get them together for a meal. Number one, that's a great way to connect. Number two, then they go to the conference and now when they see those faces, it's like it's it's their it's their tribe, you know, it's their sense of belonging again, from that. So it's those kinds of things. And that actually grew into one of our best practices was having a summit around Google I o for our top organizers.

What in Alpharetta or Van, if you want to talk about early days, I'm curious over time that that theme of belonging in fostering that seems, well, not seems as critical. What are what are some of the things that you all found were essential for fostering that, whether it's with the the leads or with the members of the groups.

Curious what best practices around that? Well, I don't take all that space. All right. You know, first off, thank you. I think, you know, for this kind of community programs, you need to think to different layers of sense of belonging. So that is the connections that you establish that among the community organizers. And then the connections that these people establish that within their own communities.

So it's important to consider there are different layers. You have to you have to connect if you want to connect to this community organizer, of course, they are like great people. And so just as one seed put them together, something will happen. Maybe before a conference. In our case before for Google, you're doing Google at your best. I give them space to connect that they will do it because they are naturally social.

People are an important element. I think for this kind of community movement promoted by a company is the connection with a brand. So you to foster a sense of belonging with a brand. Okay, of course I'm not Google, but I'm very close to Google. I then am passionate about what Google is doing or I never been, so I want to be part of it.

So the sense of belonging is because we all feel part of the same world. And so as a brand, you should be very balanced that in order to do not the marketing of your brand, but these like an authentic connect. Foster authentic connection with a brand and is also connect to the people. And then I think it's also important to, you know, not all the people are community professional or people that know by the book how to run a community.

So it's important to pass the most important information to your community organizers so they can build their own community, not out of nowhere, but with a little bit of knowledge in mind and here, fostering connections at this level is very important. And speaking about this is the sense of belonging. Try to do with your communities what we are doing with you.

Create a great experience. We are trying to create a great experience with you for you so you can do it with your own community. We are trying to L.A. picking up volunteers who different kind of staff. This is the same. You can do your community. So it's also important to give them examples like putting them in the shoes of the members and you are the community builder so they can say, okay, now fit the role.

You had the community leader and those are your members, go and try to do something with them. It's a very meta approach, right? You get to, but you get it right. It's the practice what you preach of. There's the opportunity to iterate and do that. And then it's they've got a perfect example. Exactly. And then once they share among each other to different level is where they build this community because they really feel they help each other in running their own communities is also where you foster the sense of belonging.

I did want to add, just like when we started the Google developer groups, part of the the goal was to not just a sense of belonging, but a sense of identity as being Google developers. Because when we started the program that no one was calling themselves a Google developer, they were, you know, they were a mobile developer or a web developer or cloud developer or whatever.

No, no. Refer to themselves as a Google developer, but after I think, you know, we were trying to get the concept through the program and I think we were successful in doing that. Yeah, I mean, that Google developer is a thing today. So that that would that would say the proof is the proof is there what so we talked about the best the best practices you've you have Google developer group started at what how many chapters or members when you came in van Well I was one of the first three chapters.

Okay. And then today. Oh yeah, today there was a thousand chapters more or more. Yeah, it fluctuates. All right. So we have points A and B, I would love to explore how you get between between the two, especially when we're talking about sharing those best practices. And how do you how do you disseminate that? I guess so. Right.

We're talking about. Okay, we start with the right people. Maybe that's that's step one. What? Step two? And I think the the benefit and why we were excited about this conversation than if, you know, if the Google developer groups are a child or an adolescent, you've got the formative early years and then Alfredo raised it through the teenage years, too, to see where it went.

So I'm curious what that life cycle or life span looks like trying to think of as we describe this. I mean, the definitely is definitely kind of like a like it was like company growth. You know, there's like an early stage company and then you get bigger or whatever. So but I remember we were meeting all in one room at Google for our Organizer summit, and then it got so big that we ended up being in like multiple separate rooms and having to it didn't feel like it one thing or whatever.

So eventually got to point. We actually had to rent the venue, you know, do that kind of thing for like we did there. Also, just we, we, we did had a few more headcount over time, but there wasn't a lot of headcount for this program. So we needed to figure out a way to have a win win win.

That's one of the things I talk about is in terms of like we had organizers that wanted to get involved. They were good organizers already. And so like one of the programs or I don't know if we still have it, but we were doing for a while was the was the mentor program we had or the I forget what we called.

I forget what it was called us alone. But we had these people that were they would like they would like do what we would normally do in terms of like coach new organizers and you know, they might be good developers and passionate about their community, but they might not have good community skills. And so we actually had people that had been in there for a while that we had already coached and were doing well, that wanted to grow themselves by actually mentoring other people.

So we would do that. That was one of the things. Help me out of it. Why pick us up? What are some other of the best practices? Are the focus is that you think enabled that that scaling? Yeah, to me, like I would call them probably the different aspects of delegation, like when grow so much as a community program, you really need to understand how to properly delegate internally in the company running the program and external in the community.

So as one seed, we never had a lot of accounts, but we had different people over the world. In fact, that was hired as one of these person locally for a particular county, because at the beginning everything, everything was managed centrally. Then they say, Look, in order to grow, we have to delegate to other people. Not that it involved in the initial origin of team.

And so we grew as a company thanks to these that we were able to make more connections on the different countries and the different places. Foster more communities, involve more people. And once you start growing, of course, it's word of mouth. So you start with E, you may end up with Z. So it's important to bring consistency and so create material to create messages that are common over communicate them in order to align more or less everyone around that.

The same topics and we see every one really mean the world, like a community spread all over the world. And those people are not working for your community. So very few time generally skipping emails. They want to do what they make them happy and for sure, reading your boring corporate email don't make them happy. So you also need to understand how to properly communicate with them in a way that they feel they perceive you are useful for them.

And to me this is like the difficulty of delegating because it's easy to say, okay, the community is running by its own, let's do it. Know if if you want to grow to go from the teenager years to the mature ages. It's important for me to be authentic with them. Of course, I think also the brand helps if you have a good brand on your shoulder, this helps people to connect with you, but you have to literally represent the values.

Again, it's communicating. You're also communicating with direction. So what you want to align around around. So if it's authenticity, if it's connection, if it's helping each other, you have to communicate in some way. These brands you cannot see. We have a very close technology and we preach to to collect, to connect with each other, to help each other doesn't work.

We have to align the different pieces through delegation, I think. So for me, this was the key element trust the inside of the team, but those are all elements of a good delegation. So yeah, I think there's another thing I want to mention in terms of like it wasn't a guaranteed thing that we were going to get support internally to do this community work when it seemed like a good idea when I didn't realize this when I was outside of Google, but it seemed like a good idea.

And. Devereaux They have these Google groups, but a lot of the product teams saw it as maybe just like hobbyists or whatever they didn't see why was why was there time? So the first few years was a real struggle to get support from the product teams to actually provide that standard content to the, you know, spread out to all the communities and stuff.

So anything was it wasn't until the 1i0 where they were the in the keynote they actually put up an Iowa extended that was run by a Google developer group because it turned out when they had this extended idea of having things that Google could do, like ten or 12 of them at their offices. And we said, well, we could get like two or 300 if you wanted from our developer community.

And then there was one that had like a thousand people in some big stadium. And so they put it on the screen and that got the product teams attention. When when, when you see them on the screen. And I oh, and you know, and so at some point it shifted and like we had this other burger called the fest and then things really started rolling When we got to we used to have this fight to get content, to pull content from the product teams for DFS.

And I don't know if you can correct me if I'm wrong here because I'm not there anymore, but it seemed like it got to the point where we had to like we had to like we couldn't take all the content they wanted to give us. We had to actually pick and choose what was what we could do. And it just changed over time, which was, yeah, it's really important to get that, get that buy in internally to.

It's not a given that everybody in the company is going to see that what you're doing with the community is a value and worth their time as well. So yeah, you fucking at this point, one I think is also a good segue way to reply to Tim. Tim, a question which I thought I, I agree with you people are sometimes just lazy, but it's important to understand how you can simplify their own job in running a community.

So if you give them content to share, some of them may be happy, but the majority want, or at least this is what's happening in our community program. So it's important to remove the boring stuff they need to do in order to run an event or to run their own community and leave them free to explore the areas they want to explore, where they want to create.

So sharing content, I mean, very few people would be okay, I take your deck of like regarding this presentation and I will repeat it to my audience. This is like very market perceived. A lot of marketing said, I think since the very beginning we gave a lot of freedom to the community. We gave, Hey, those are guidelines. If you want to simplify part of your job, feel free to adopt them.

Otherwise it's your community. Again, delegation is not to Google asking you to maintain a group of people. We use rules, of course. We set the code of conduct. We set the hey, this is right that this is not right or boundaries to run the community as every community. But then we left people free to do whatever they wanted.

And I also think this is why the program was so widespread because of its diversity run largely, Gene said a university. Yes you you could do it it the in the inside of our company helping other developers with that for other companies. Yes of course. Do I need to be in a big city to run a good, you know, be where you are in your other context?

Or do I need to talk only about Google Technologies is running a G? Not of course would be nice if you do, but if you also want to talk about even competitors, it's not a problem because we recognize you are a developer. You have your own word made by Google Technologies, but also other stuff. So help the people in your local context in the way you prefer.

And I think this was especially compared to other community programs. I know it was a successful success element. The for the GDC, the freedom that we gave them boundaries, yes, but a lot of freedom within these boundaries. I just want to say that that I want to get some credit there in terms of like in my experience doing community work, I was involved in a thing called Silicon Valley Code Camp, and it was the motto always was by developers for developers.

And that was kind of in my mind, and we were kind of setting up the guidelines for the city. So, for example, what Afraid was saying in order to be a GDG, you need to hold one event a quarter. That's Google technology related. That was the extent of the requirement to be a Jedi. So you have local meetings at least once in 90 days.

You talk about some Google thing. But beyond that, like I said, you could talk about competitors, you could do whatever you want, you know, and I think giving people that freedom was was was a well, it turned out to be a good thing. And we have some very devoted, you know, chapters like let them for you to get you have to let them for everyone to come back to you.

Yeah, right. It's the thing. If you've raised them wealth, they'll return home. That's our use, our analogy there, I think I really like this construct of you know your point, Alfredo, about the delegation, but with clear hey, here the resources, let's clear it. So your path is really focused on what excite you in what's interesting, you've got very clear guardrails, but outside of that it's really your journey to to shape talk a little bit and then you can jump in on this one too, of what does it look like to manage it today?

So the scaling, I'm sure, is not over, but I'm I'm going to guess that there's a bit of a curve that today it's in management and operation not straight 0 to 1 growth and scaling mode. What would love to learn what that looks like for a global community of the size? Well, for sure it's important to understand again, this is a company committee program and so you need to connect resources with it.

And so I wouldn't say the growth is constrained by the resources you have up because we are generally very creative and find new ways to find resources on to better use what we have. But you know, there are areas in the world that just to mention one India, but I can also mention others where community Spark is really strong.

And so when you try to do something that you have an overwhelming impact and these are overwhelming impact, the commerce, all the rest make of it all the rest. So it's important to plan properly and see. Yes, I hope the context gives the best of it, but I also need to be sure we don't cross this line, otherwise we won't be able to.

Said what? So the other pieces of the word this is important. Also, we will compromise on the quality of the service provided and that in order to raise the quantity at concrete example, we have to talk with people running community. It's part of our community builder role, okay? We want to be in connection with them. If you have 100 communities to to support how many conversation I can have with this community in a given piece of time, if I have one, thousands would be nice for the program.

Hey, we grew to next year, but the quality of the relationships with the greater lot. And so this is important to always maintain your mind balance at this point. You also need to this is not great to say, but you understand what should be your priorities in the community, the impact of the community. Because if I talk with a very impactful community and spend the my time with them, I know they can teach it to the other communities.

What one at the beginning said with these mentors, okay, so spend time with the ones that can help you teaching also to the others within this committee of committee organizers. So this is also another important consideration to do. We didn't do at the very beginning when we had the few communities. From an operational point of view, reporting is very important because when there are few things happening in the word that they are easy to catch, easy to show internally, easy to get the buy in when there are so many.

It's important to build a flow to get all this information to set fees, all these important stories, to bring them in front of your key stakeholders because you cannot do it manually anymore. Otherwise you risk it to lose a lot of the important elements. And finally, I would say a little bit of that be cohesive despite every journey, every country, a community is very diverse, so it's important to find the common elements in your narrative that are okay for all of them, because otherwise your risk is to forget to someone or to just focus on someone else.

And this is not right, not correct for the community. Sooner or later they will get these and they will start seeing whom are you? Do you have preferences? Why You are always speaking about this committee or this part of the world and not about me and the great work and doing it. So it's important to always maintain this balance.

Those are so many good nuggets and insights into how you manage that. And I'm especially I like the similarities draw on what the underlying philosophy that I think you at the beginning talked about when starting these groups was make sure the right people are involved. And I link that directly to what you said on Friday about the quality of those interactions, that that's still an underlying philosophy of if we can have the right people and really provide them with a great experience, then kind of the rest of it's going to going to take care of itself.

I want to jump in and make sure we have plenty of time for questions and breakouts and things. So I've got a couple of things that I'll I'll ask all Pepper and Alfredo with. But those are all, you know, I've written down on a sheet and they're not from from you all the, the community builder extraordinaire. So drop them in the chat And Meghan has our first one here.

She asked, was there a framework developed for mentors and mentees to produce a formal program or was it more organic? And maybe the answer to that question is both. It started one way and we learned what the the form program was over time. But then you want to jump on that one. It definitely happens organically. And I know I actually don't know the current state of it.

It's been quite a few years since I was directly involved, but at one point we did have a formal program like you actually had to be selected to be in that program and then you got special support from Google. Sometimes you got travel support so you could go and meet with other organizers in your region. It was it was regionally based.

Got to maybe you know, where that currently afraid of. It's still going and yeah, I would add that this depends on the culture and the the area of the world. So some kind of a framework that may work in one part of the world that may not working on this part and back again to the diversity that you have to consider when you're dealing with these words.

Widespread community movement mentoring, for example, was greater in North America as one seed to the very similar structure, one worker still today. In other cultures where as soon as you nominate someone, a mentor in our culture, like West culture, we consider these, Hey, it's an honor I give you. So it's important in their culture is a sign of power.

And when you start putting power in community and you know, rank people is not a community anymore. So it's important to understand that the impact of your initiatives in this specific cultural context. So the underlying idea is the same. I want to have people training other people or helping other people or being advocates. Our community movement. How can I decline these in different cultures, in the different cultures and working with them?

And again, speaking about scale, the community program, these are the kind of challenge challenges you have to face in order to maintain the sustainability and uniformity of the program all over the world. What I like to say is, you know, they have that saying like, don't give them a fish, teach in a fish. We teach people that. Teach people to fish.

Yeah. And you can call it what? So I think that Meghan's question is the hey, there's the construct of what is the intended outcome. Mechanisms may be the same, but curating it to the appropriate context in the specific culture that it's working in and the offender, you can correct me if you or I see what you what you think about this, but I think some of the people skills that we teach at the annual summits or when I was doing it, were like, you know, certain people would be more inclined, be interested in those versus just the technology aspect of things.

And those are the people that tended to become then the the people that teach other people the fish. So the kind of skills, a self-selection process because we would offer, we would offer educational stuff that would help people to become better at that. Would you agree with that? Federal Yeah, definitely. And I remember endless discussion led internally like Google or your Google User Technical Unit is an event for developers.

So we invite these people to attend. And before they were due to attend, were you and before Google of your we gave them the opportunity to connect for one or two days and they were under discussion. Should we put a technical content in this community summit? And remember, at the beginning we did something, but then we focused more on soft skills.

So now we we have this element of, Hey, the Google of your event is for technology. Whatever happens before, what are your it's for community skills. So in like it's important to maintain the balance because we shouldn't forget that those are developers first and foremost and then community manager, but also be moralistic and think about the whole experience.

People are coming there for Google so you can leave technical content to your. But for example, what you can do is to connect during the community summit people with like the community manager with proletariat, people do not organize what they are going to do, but simply give them the occasion to connect and people will be very happy. Say, Hey, thanks.

So you connect me with a person that is writing this library I'm using every day in my daily job. Oh, I did not think this person pop up that you connected with him or her. Oh yes, but was great. And so they are so grateful. They recognize your impact in your life. So he's also the way we build community.

Again, it's all about helping people need to solve people needs, identify the needs of the organizers and understand how you can solve them. Yeah, that was one of the, I think the community lounge that I know that started out as like just like a couch. And I mean, in more reason, I always before the pandemic, it was like a major element of the whole conference, you know, But really since there was like, like have some extra power outlets for people to charge up their phones and laptops, but people love to connect.

I think that was one things I want, you know, it's like, you know, I'm a I was an engineer, too. It's like, you know, even the most, you know, introverted engineers still have a need for connection, still want to have a sense of belonging. And that's what we try to do as we try to facilitate. Yeah, we're humans after all, right?

We're all humans. One Tim had a question. Is there any vetting process for someone to become an organizer? So we talked to Alfredo. You talked a little bit about kind of the student groups in India, but you both spoke about making sure that there's a level of quality and the right people are involved. Curious what that looks like at at a scale like this.

I can go and generally we also in this case have guidelines. So we provide to the different regions and then every regional lead decides what's the best them because he or she knows the contextual element of the particular person, the particular community. But generally we tell people we are okay, if you want to run a committee, we don't require you to have an experienced training academy.

Of course he's welcome, but he's not required that. But first and foremost, the organizer white label event without being identified as a group. And he's very important for two reasons. First, you test the motivation of the people asking. So you say, okay, you put them okay, you want to become a committee member, do something. You know, do the first step.

We are okay. We don't have any like rule four. You do the four stepping that what you prefer. And these removes already a lot of people that try. Okay, let me see if okay or if people are not really motivated. The second organizing their own first event. They already create some sort of connection. And this is very helpful because often these arrive from one single person.

He said, We know you should be at least a two people in order to run a community because again, he's your is not your job. It's something you do in your free time. But community requires continuity, especially at the beginning. If you're alone, could be a little bit difficult to guarantee this continuity in the first month of life of the community, having on person helps you to make the community surviving the first, the first the period of time.

Another element is like in this case for the community program we have. This is slightly different from villages called the Google Developer Student Club. So our technical committee within universities, it's like instead of having for example, an important differences are not having multiple organizers, but having one lead organizer and the one leader organizes the one we communicate with instead of Virginie Jee, they can have multiple organizers.

They decide internally who are the organizers, and we do not impose anything from our site. And these are classic example of how things work differently. The same concept that the community works different in different context. So the university, they have these generally very hierarchical approach, and so you need the person speaking with the institution coordinating everything but the point of reference.

So we were trying to have multiple organizers appointed by Google organizing to the university, but yet we still consider the format of having one single leader a winning element of a university program. So in order to apply to team, yes, there is some examples. I provided that. But as usual, you have to be very focused on the specific community program you want to run in the specific context that it is running Alpha.

Are these still requiring a faculty mentor for student groups? That's one of the ways we get at it with the that was just not always and depends also in the country like there are countries where or even universities where without a recommendation for a teacher, nothing happens. And so we require data in order. Some students have more freedom and they can propose a community without any particular authorization.

So also in this case, it really depends on the country. This is also an example of the differences because we we require the faculty person, because with the DTG approach, it's meant to live on. We're like, I think the student clubs are a yearly thing. You sign up for a year. So whenever the developer was meant to live on and so students who graduated, So having the faculty advisor meant that we had someone we could go back to to try and get a new student to run the group when they graduated, because they didn't always make the best practices.

They would groom their own successor, but they didn't always do that. In fact, they usually didn't do that. Martin has a related question here of the importance of delegating. How do you know to to whom delegate is there process? What are the aptitudes that you consider? I think we can do a quick, rapid fire response to this because, Marta, I'm going to steal that.

That's going to be a whole a whole topic of one of our future events, which is empowering your community members to contribute and grow. And it would just be all about delegating because I really like that one. But Van, what are your thoughts on this? You know, it really it's really depends. I, I don't know if you consider this delegating, but like we used to, we used to do these t shirts for every summit gathering, and then we kind of figured out it was always a chore for us.

And we had all these creative people in the community. So we turn it into a contest for the community. And not only that end up being like, you know, fun. I mean, it ended up being the hardest part about it ended up being like getting marketing to sign off on the shirt that the community liked, but that was central delegation or something like instead of being a chore for us, it actually became a fun activity for the community and it actually increased the sense of belonging because it was like they themselves were producing this, this artifact.

So I like it, I like it. So I think that's a great one. It almost segues into also you can kind of farm interest with those if you could start to, you know, turn over some stones and find who in the community cares about this and empower that individual to be like, okay, cool. You you're obviously passionate about this.

I'm going to tap you for for that. Yeah. Another good example in the history was there was a point where Google has run these big DFS and they would take the old devil for the fall because they would run ten of them around the world. And all of them really have to go to run these events and get to whatever.

And they decided to stop doing that. But then there was this expectation that go with you doing something in these markets. And at the same time I noticed that in the that the developers had already started developing like the Android developers in Europe actually developed a set of events that were very collaborative where they would run an Android event here and then run Android event here.

They were bigger events, there were weekend events. And so we realized the community was ready by then because we'd been going around for a few years that some of the organizers that were experienced organizers were ready to do something more advanced like a day defense. And so it was just the timing was right. And now we have this the first season where, I don't know, it's hundreds of DFS get run every fall by the community and it's at a fraction of the cost of what we would do for the for the other events because all the travel for all the Googlers and running a big venues and because it's because it's being run by the

community, the expectation is that it doesn't need to be in a fancy venue So we can have a nice venue, but it doesn't have to be a big fancy venue. And actually we get we actually get way more reach. It's not just in the major markets now, it's in every market. So yeah, that's yeah, I think that the theme between this point and what you talked about afraid of before is kind of the proof is in the ability.

So to that give people an opportunity to do the thing you want to ask them to do and get some practice with it and then that helps you identify whether they're qualified to, to kind of move, move on and move up. Megan asks any insights on how you leverage the work or outcomes of these to the overall of the overall community in line with kind of the goals of of Google, maybe Alphabet?

I don't know how deeply we want or can get into this, but curious. Yeah, I can reply being community operation one. The goal of the communication team is this one. So I know something. I mean that community is a machine kind of slow motion. The big this lower these. So first and foremost it's important to plan because internally in a meeting you chat, you can change the success metric in 2 hours before you elaborate these before the community assimilate these before they start working for your new success metrics.

So there is a lot of time required. So it's important to be constantly and also to say, Hey, this is not something that will change every single day. It's something you have to keep costs. And so whatever you are picking up, my suggestion is go for it to for enough time so the community can really assimilate it and also sometimes be creative on it that they can come up with new ways to fulfill your goal.

Set on the, you know, personally you always consider when a successful a successful company community happens at the intersection of the company needs and the user needs so it do not work only on what are the company needs the business value for the community do not only work because otherwise people won't follow. You do not only work on what is important for people, otherwise the company won't follow.

You, won't give you resources, won't allow you to grow in scale. Try always to find the sweet spot between what company needs it and one community members needs. And at the intersection of this sweet spot, you will have your highest the chance to be successful with the community program. I know it's a very big happy to collaborate more, but can be a very boring one.

Very interesting. Depends on your attitude on metrics that targets goals, but is generally the approach I follow. When we discuss about strategy, we discuss about what should we do this year, this quarter, or this time that. Yeah, that's also on the list of potential topics is that measurement of aligning what are what is what is it I want to give and provide for the members of the community and what are my business brand overarching goals and metrics and where's that?

Where's that intersection line that the, the bullet points for that conversation would write themselves that we may need to extend the time for that one. Carlos, Ask the question of what governance model do you recommend to encourage sharing of new purchases or practices ideas across chapters to encourage that good things spread? We'll answer this question. And then since we've had some people drop, we're going to we're going to wrap up in here.

So we're going to we'll skip the breakouts and have a conversation. But then are afraid or not sure, not sure. What are your own thoughts on this, on governance process or governance models to enable the delegation and things to run themselves, but also promote ideas, sharing? I can say something and then once again, you know, I think it's important to be the to provide good examples.

So again, do not dictate them what people should do, give them guardrails as you defined previously. Guy So people can express within these boundaries and once you find the good examples, leverage them in a very community member to member form. So you should not say, Hey, this is the superhero of the community. These are a narrative that is greater for the promoted members, not so great for the people that maybe are a little bit behind the because, you know, they are new, they can indicate as much time to the committee as other members.

So it's important always to find the balance in recognition. But my idea is general, like identify what's greater. Thanks to the conversation we said before the open conversation challenge of the community and show good examples that make up the culture of your community movement. Otherwise there are no rules that there is a control. You can set some few rules saying that, okay, but you have to act and leverage the culture of the community you want to have and you leverage it that through examples.

I like that. I would agree with that. I mean, you mean getting back to what Alfredo said earlier about we don't really need a governance governance structure per se, because, you know, we've got those guardrails and and then the minimum requirements to be involved. And after that and then basically play nice, you know, and and then it's different in different markets like in the U.S. is really kind of a Wild West thing where the groups kind of all do their own thing for the most part, at least when I was involved.

Whereas in some parts of Europe they are more kind of, you know, collaborative amongst the groups maybe because they're also closer together in Europe as well. I don't know. Sure, Sure. Yeah. I think, you know, Freddy, you talked earlier about this of the specifically the mentor structures that sometimes that model, the governance model and I've seen this in communities I've worked with, especially volunteer based ones that what intended as a way to kind of keep and provide structure turned into a power exercise.

And it kind of eroded the the pure nature of the community as we were in our last minute. So I want to make sure we we, I we've got a good track record of at least putting a bow on things at the end of our time. And you're welcome to stick around afterwards and chat. But thank you all for being here.

I would love to hear any Alfred or Van, any final thoughts? And then for anyone else, what's a what's a key takeaway, a nugget, something that you're like, hey, that was really that stuck with me. And I'm going to take that away into my my own community work. I go first thing I want to give people take away is there's also research.

You can go look at is there's this great talk by Brian Sharp and he did is if you just Google concrete practices to be a better leader and you put in GDC, which is the game developer conference, GDC, there's two talks that have come up. One is the first one he did about this and then one he goes into a little deeper.

And what I love about is I think it's like concrete practices to be a better person, like all these things that we're learning and that we're teaching these other people, it's like it's also helping to be a better person and helping these people that I'm working with be better people, and that that helps me to sleep well at night.

I like it. I like it. Alfredo, any final thoughts? Yes. You know, I love comedy so much because I always consider community an occasion to challenge myself. I think as a community manager, you you cannot consider your job as tactical one. You need to be ready to change every single day because people change the relationship with them. Change.

So if you think I would do my job the same way I did it yesterday, you know this is not true. So make I try to come every single day with this open mindset to change something and to improve something. You, myself and the community will give me the occasion to prove I'm correct that with the right mindset, I like it.

I like the mindset. That's what it comes down to. Thank you both for for all the insights and conversation and and for for being here.

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Posted Jun 28, 2022 | Views 1.5K
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# About Gradual