How to Grow a Community: Insights from Experts

Growing a large, active community is hard work. I know from experience. When I launched my startup, Concept Feedback (a website feedback community for designers and developers) less than a year ago, I wish I had the insights that these veterans shared with me while doing these interviews.

If you’re developing a website, trying to attract customers or building a community, I hope the wisdom offered here helps you get where you’re trying to go just a little bit faster.

Meet the Experts

We asked five people who are known to have grown a strong online community through their projects.


How to Grow a Community: Insights from Experts

Growing a large, active community is hard work. I know from experience. When I launched my startup, Concept Feedback (a website feedback community for designers and developers) less than a year ago, I wish I had the insights that these veterans shared with me while doing these interviews.

If you’re developing a website, trying to attract customers or building a community, I hope the wisdom offered here helps you get where you’re trying to go just a little bit faster.

Meet the Experts

We asked five people who are known to have grown a strong online community through their projects. Leer más “How to Grow a Community: Insights from Experts”

The Fairness Strategy: Negotiating for the Long-Term

If you’re buying a car or a piece of real estate, aggressive may be the right strategy. But, when it comes to negotiating partnerships for bold, long-term creative pursuits, relationships and precedent matter. In fact, the relationship matters more than the extra spread you might gain from being aggressive.

When it comes to negotiating partnerships for bold, long-term creative pursuits, relationships and precedent matter.

When negotiating a deal that will result in an ongoing relationship, consider the “fairness” strategy. It’s simple: Have a discussion up front with your counterpart in the negotiation. Make the case that you want to reach a fair deal for both parties.


Negotiation is a part of business. Whether you are hiring a team, agreeing to terms with a client, or ironing out a deal with a vendor – negotiation sets the tone for the relationship.

Of course, you want a good deal. Everyone does. Some people take the aggressive approach: asking for more or offering less than they think is fair. The brash business figures of the 20th century were infamous for aggressive negotiation practices. The strategy here is to purposefully exceed the boundaries of fairness with the understanding that you’ll need to take a few steps back.

However, by doing so, you are setting an antagonistic precedent. Screwing over the other party creates distrust and insecurity – very shaky ground for collaboration. Leer más “The Fairness Strategy: Negotiating for the Long-Term”

Skeptics vs Cynics: Problem-Solving with a Bias Towards Resolution :: Tips :: The 99 Percent


I’ve written before about the valuable role that skeptics play in a creative team. Although these poo-poo’ers that love to find fault with new ideas can be annoying, they’re always helpful – and essential to making ideas happen. Without them, we can get intoxicated on idea generation and fail to focus, refine our ideas, and follow through enough to succeed. So skeptics are good.However, skeptical does not mean cynical. I have observed in some teams a dangerous dynamic where skeptics turn cynical and negative. Rather than try to fix problems, they obsess over what is broken. Not only does this further obstruct finding an expedient resolution, it also sucks energy out of the team.

Here’s the difference:

The skeptic: “I’m concerned about the issue, and I think we need to revisit X and Y. Perhaps we want to try Z instead? Or maybe there is a way we can tweak Y to work?”

The cynic: “We did not discuss the issue enough. X and Y are both wrong. We’re not approaching this in the right way.”

Notice how both people disagree, but the skeptic is pushing the search for a solution while the cynic is simply focused on what is wrong.

Rather than try to fix problems, they obsess over what is broken.

In a creative environment that moves a mile a minute, everyone should act with a bias towards resolution. This means discussing the problem with the intention of solving it rather than embellishing it. As a leader of a creative team, you should expect possible solutions from everyone, even those that are pessimistic. The possible solutions don’t need to be the right solutions, and they don’t need to be fully constructed.

The process of discussing a problem in the language of resolution can help a team maintain enough energy to debate the options. Like throwing spaghetti on a wall, the more solutions proposed, the more likely one sticks. If you’re the team skeptic, you can rest assured knowing that debating the merits of various solutions will shed more light on the problem.

Many leaders insist that adversity only serves to strengthen a team. Problems help us better understand our product and further refine the way we work. Unfortunately, problems also bring out the worst in people. Tempers, insecurities, and fears are most likely to flare up during conflict. Nevertheless, the best teams are able to weather the storm by keeping their eyes on the prize – the prospect of resolution.


This post was written by Behance Founder & CEO Scott Belsky, whose new book, Making Ideas Happen, chronicles the methods of exceptionally productive creative people and teams. Learn more about MIH.

http://the99percent.com/tips/6412/skeptics-vs-cynics-problem-solving-with-a-bias-towards-resolution

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3 Ways to Fight Apathy


Amidst a tough economy and a competitive business environment, we all face trying periods. Sometimes we are liable to get tired and let our minds wander. Rather than stay active, we might slip into a passive state. Unfortunately, small and growing businesses can’t afford to lose energy. Great decisions and thoughtful solutions require focus and full participation.
In my experience on creative teams, I have found that active engagement is the “special sauce” for breakthrough realizations. Fighting is a good thing. Passionate viewpoints spawn heated discussions. And if one person starts to detach, the chemistry of the entire team suffers.

For this reason, apathy – the state of not caring – is dangerous. As leaders, we must fiercely defend the chemistry of our teams. When you see any degree of apathy, you must address it.

Consider a few approaches for confronting apathy:

1. Call it out.
When a colleague disengages during a heated discussion or difficult project, call him or her out on it. Sometimes we lose focus without realizing it, and we rely on our team to bring us back. Simply asking, “Are you following me? Does this make sense?” Or asking for feedback on the process itself might solve the problem. If you fail to call it out, you will find that apathy is contagious.

2. Talk it out.
Apathy often has roots that run deep. Sometimes it is a personal issue that is causing the turmoil. Other times it is a disagreement or a miscommunication between team members. Whatever it is, it will only become worse without discussing it. Teams should foster an open atmosphere where people can discuss tensions as a way of resolving them.

3. Introduce new challenges & pose new questions.
Sometimes apathy can be traced to a lack of feeling challenged. Behance’s Chief of Design, Matias Corea, suggests adding new challenges into the mix as a way of re-engaging checked-out team members. Leer más “3 Ways to Fight Apathy”

Moving The Ball Forward



by Behance Research

Every action taken (or not taken) either pushes your idea forward or holds it back. Sometimes we ignore the intangible elements of productivity, namely self-awareness, discipline, and confidence. You must manage yourself as you manage ideas. If you stop and think about it, your ability to make ideas happen is dependent on you and…the ball.

Are you moving the ball forward?
With everything you say and do, you either move the ball forward or backwards. Excess chatter in meetings, repetitive questions, and inconsequential concerns only distract you and others from action – thus moving the ball backwards. Aspire to content-make rather than commentate. Moving the ball forward is adding value that enriches and expedites the outcome.

Is the ball even moving?
Insecurity and apathy can inhibit progress. In the process of pursuing ideas, you need to keep the ball in motion. Remember, idle balls sitting still on the floor are dangerous: you can trip on them. Catch yourself when the components of an active project are still. Dwelling over inactive projects can destroy motivation.

Is your eye on the ball?
Typical meetings are full of digressions and points made beyond the scope of the meeting. Sometimes interesting stuff takes the place of relevant stuff. If you can stay focused on the purpose and the points that gain traction, then you can help foster productive discussion.

Who has the ball?
The ball is either in your court or someone else’s. The problem is that, after many meetings, the ball is left in neutral territory. No-man’s land. Are you supposed to call the person to further discuss the problem or are they supposed to come back to you with possible solutions? Always know where the ball is, and never ever leave it in your court. If we all committed to never let the ball rest in our respective court, then the ball would ALWAYS be moving.

It is hard to manage the many forces required to push ideas forward. A ball is round, it rolls, and it is the key to productivity – so keep an eye out for it!

http://the99percent.com/

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Power Tools: Collaborative Apps for Organizing Your Team



by Behance Team

Ideas don’t become a reality in isolation – teams, collaborators, and opinion-givers are a powerful part of the execution process. Here, we run down the tools we’re currently using – in addition to our own Action Method project management app, of course – to communicate and push ideas forward.Yammer/Co-op. A one-stop aggregator for office news and beyond.
A Behance team favorite, Yammer has become our go-to tool for aggregating office conversation. We prefer to use it informally, collecting funny videos, announcing meetings, and posting product specs, but the Groups feature allows for a myriad of organizational options. Harvest also recently launched a similar product, Co-op, with some really cool upgrades. The right-side toolbar allows each user to create a focus area, as well as view the most current status on each member of a specified group. [Free] Leer más “Power Tools: Collaborative Apps for Organizing Your Team”

Battling the Half-Life of Idea Execution


by Michael Karnjanaprakorn

Creative people have the tendency to generate tons of ideas. What’s not exciting about brainstorming new ideas?  It’s intoxicating and fun. It hones your innovative thinking and nurtures your creativity at the same time. Of course, the real challenge begins when you come across an idea that you like. A lot of people I know struggle with pushing an idea into motion. Something about rolling up their sleeves and getting started is scary. However, my challenge is a bit different. My struggle is focusing on any one idea for an extended period of time.Over the past year, I’ve launched an online network, an email newsletter, and produced numerous innovation conferences. I’ve also wanted to start an online savings bank, a speakeasy bar, and a health insurance company. If you think these ideas are totally random, it’s because they are. Leer más “Battling the Half-Life of Idea Execution”

Introducing the New Book from Behance & 99%: “Making Ideas Happen”


My obsession, since before the founding days of Behance, has been to better understand the forces behind making ideas happen. In a perfect world, the best ideas would be the easiest to execute. Or, at the very least, there would be some correlation between the quality of an idea and the probability that it becomes a reality. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Ideas don’t happen because they are great – or by accident. Ideas are made to happen through a series of other forces.

But what are these miraculous and mysterious “forces”? And why are certain people and teams able to consistently defy the odds and push their ideas to fruition, time and time again? I have spent over four years meeting these creative powerhouses and asking them how they do it.
Leer más “Introducing the New Book from Behance & 99%: “Making Ideas Happen””

The Beta Principle: Skip Perfection & Launch Early


One thing every company has in common is a desire to innovate. Whether it means creating entirely new products or improving existing ones, everyone is familiar with the anxiety that accompanies all things new. All too often, we strive to get everything right the first time around. As a consequence, our products suffer from costly delays and insufficient feedback prior to launch.For a solution, we can steal a page from the playbook of modern Internet and technology companies that have pioneered the practice of “launching in beta.” As you probably know, most of Google’s products are launched in beta (with bugs and all) for the world to adopt. The “Labs” icon in the top right hand corner of Gmail is a treasure trove of quickly executed ideas that Google is testing. Some are clearly half-baked, but all are available.

Why? Because sometimes it’s best to launch a product before it’s perfect. I call this acting without conviction. You may be uncertain – and some things may remain unfinished – but you’ve got to push it out. The reasons are both practical and psychological.

Sometimes it’s best to launch a product before it’s perfect.

On a practical level, you can only get feedback and real user data when the product is released. Google makes major changes to their products while they are in beta – and these changes are made based on rock-solid analytics. Also, if there are fundamental flaws in your assumptions about your product, you will realize them more quickly if it’s live. Rather than spending many months (and lots of money) on the finer details, getting early feedback can lead to priceless realizations. Leer más “The Beta Principle: Skip Perfection & Launch Early”