The Raven, the Hedgehog and your Community
Not long ago, I saw a video about a hedgehog. Walking in the middle of a busy road, a raven tried helping the hedgehog cross it safely. The raven seemed to be pushing the hedgehog with its beak, following it without stopping until the hedgehog made it to the other side of the road.
Really touching, right?
But when I looked at the comments, I found out that what I thought I saw in the video was a completely different reality from what really happened. Apparently, ravens use their beak to hurt the hedgehog’s eyes. As hedgehogs have spikes, their eyes are their most exposed and vulnerable organ. Ravens use this same method on all animals they detect as being distressed. It’s part of how they hunt for food.
My excited smile turned into a look of horror.
I didn’t do a research dive to understand nature’s inner workings, but we somehow can look at our community members in the same way.
We think they are going through some route of experiences – it might be a post they write in the community platform, their presence at an event (physical or online), or an initiative they promote in the community.
Sometimes it seems to us that the community members do well and receive value from the community — as with this hedgehog. But sometimes it may be misleading.
There are many variables we should take into account when making sure the community answers our members’ needs. For example, do they receive the information they need about the community’s activities in a comfortable way? Does the community’s atmosphere enable a space for participating? Do we give them the ability to influence and be engaged? And so on.
Many times, there is a gap between what we think or do and what our community members experience, causing them to be unsatisfied or even leave the community.
We need to adopt the community members’ perspective and think about what can help them the most in each one of these interactions. It will assist us in making sure that in these possible interactions, we and the community members will be on the same page. For example:
♦ The process of joining the community and dealing with an unfamiliar platform.
♦ How do we present the community rules in an email or a post, and how they are phrased.
♦ How is the event registration process managed, and how does it match the community members’ needs.
♦ The way in which community members can influence the content and experiences, and even organize activities with our help.
How our community members experience the community is important, but we don’t always look at their experience from their perspective. I recommend analyzing each interaction, checking out the gaps, seeing what works, what doesn’t, thinking about how we can improve – and applying it.
Did you ever have an assumption about the community and found you were wrong? How did you find out and what did you do to fix the problem?
So, what’s the first thing you should do? Speak with 3 community members and listen to what they have to say.
And next time your assumption is incorrect, think about the hedgehog and the raven.