What's the glue of your community?

I really enjoyed reading this post on Defining Glue Work.

A couple of years back, I started to put a definition around some of the things I was commonly seeing in engineering teams that often gets ignored. The two big areas I immediately noticed were around documentation and knowledge management. It fit all the characteristics of glue work; it was tedious, ongoing, and required lots of long-form writing and quality reviewing.

Over time, I noticed other work that also was laborious. Some of it was repetitive and manual tasks required to test and deploy code. In other instances, it was the effort required to figure out a particular vendor tool. There is all sorts of work done by engineers that is non-code related in just getting quality code out the door or in learning the tools that might reduce the manual work.

This post comes from a devrel/tech background, we can equally apply the same thinking to community as a whole.

Much of what Mark Birch talks about can be put into the ‘community operations’ box, but I think all of this goes deeper than just that. It’s as much about strategy as it is operations.

For example, when I talk about community flywheels, I often say that to build a community flywheel you build an understanding of what works and what doesn’t. You keep what works. You get rid of what doesn’t. The keeping of what works IS the glue.

I also think about this with respect to knowledge transfer, and how hard it is to transfer knowledge. I don’t think it’s the case of just documenting stuff, especially in community. To transfer knowledge i community, I think people need to experience it to understand it properly. You want people to say “oh, now I get it. Now I understand why x is so important. This is amazing.”

Infact, when I handed over Ministry of Testing, I had to transfer everything over. No it wasn’t documented and the way we ended up transferring it over to the new CEO was by doing things together. He then did it on his own with my support. It both situations he would ask “What would Rosie do?” and we would talk through stuff.

Then when it came to him being stuck and on his own, he would still ask ‘What would Rosie do?’, but he was asking himself and would come to a resolution on his own.

Those are my two glue stories, do you have any that come to mind?