Creativity is a mysterious element of our existence, like existence itself. Sometimes we keep thinking and trying to write an article and the idea just doesn't come up. Even if it does, moving ahead on it seems like moving mountains, leave alone completing it. And sometimes an interesting discussion gets deeper and one's views as part of that, take the form of an article. This article is one such piece of writing!
As some of us in the Prototypr Network on Discord were discussing building a 'really good' creative ecosystem, something dawned to be regarding this particular topic. What came to me was from my own personal experience of life as well as working on designing a similar visionary product and an ecosystem. Graeme was kind enough to point out that what I wrote could become an article and hence here it is.
I really hope you find value here and parts of it or maybe a whole of it helps you in some way or the other.
The Thought Behind It
In any ecosystem, whether it is an online/offline community, professional network, social circle, and any other form of group where people exist, interact, and exchange things of value, dynamics always exist. It will never be a linear and uniform function, especially when creative spirits are involved. As we move ahead in building Prototypr to be truly a phenomenal product and an ecosystem for creatives, there are questions that we keep trying to find answers to and this article is an offshoot of one such quest.
The question that I was trying to answer or find an answer to was how can we make sure that these dynamics in an creative ecosystem serve the best interests of people that exist within. While making sure each one is able to give the best they can should be on priority, it is also important to keep the product and ecosystem aligned to the underlying philosophy it was born to serve.
It will be a tragedy if people in a product's ecosystem themselves move the product away from the mission and vision it is on!
To design a product that serves people in a healthy manner, we need to understand how human behavior shapes the dynamics so that the product serves the people who exist in the ecosystem in the best possible manner while keeping the product healthy too.
But how do we do that?
Let's give it a try!
The Underlying Parameters
We need to define some parameters which will help us divide people that exist within the ecosystem into different categories. What I think can be a really good parameter is the Drive and Frequency at which people participate and contribute to the ecosystem. And this is also true for most of the things we do in personal, social as well as professional spaces.
I hope this must be simple to understand as this is how we engage in different aspects of our lives. Sometimes we are causal in a few things and moderate in others, while intensely involved in some other aspect of our life and work. The drive with which a person involves and the frequency at which one does can be a good enough parameter to determine which category one will fall.
This division will now help us define our four players within the ecosystem and how they shape the dynamics of it, along with how can we ensure they become more and more involved and feel part of the mission and vision.
Product's MiViPhi and our Four Players
A product's MiViPhi (Mission, Vision, and Philosophy) is what should be the core of all-thing-product, and around that everything should revolve. Now based on how people within the ecosystem participate and contribute, we have our four players.
1. Spectators - These are users who are mostly focused on deriving value from a product/ecosystem but do not care much about adding value or contributing to it. Till their needs are served and their ends are met, they are happy and content with that.
These are Casual ones and revolve around that in their entire lifetime with the product. They neither have much drive nor frequency!
2. Observers - These are those who use the product and derive value but are silent observers of all that happens in the network. Sometimes they contribute but only when they feel the need to and are comfortable being that way. They do not actively participate in most things but are selective in their engagement with the people and elements in the ecosystem and also how they involve in it. Though they derive value, they are not just focused on it but want the product and community to grow and evolve, making their contribution as and when needed.
These are valuable to a good extent and lie between Casual and Moderate but more on the Moderate side and less on the Casual one. They feel connected to and relate to the product's MiViPhi and hence behave this way and contribute when the need arises. Their drive is at a good level but the frequency is quite low.
3. Contributors - They are the ones who are actively (moderate <=> intense) involved in making the product and ecosystem better as they deeply relate to and feel connected with the product's MiViPhi and align more with it than Spectators and Observers. Both their drive and frequency are at 'really good' levels and it can be seen by their participation and contribution.
They keep a close watch on all that happens, within the ecosystem and in-and-around products and keep contributing to it as and when required. Sometimes going out of their way and comfort zones to make sure the product sticks to the mission it is on, the vision it was born to serve and the philosophy that is the core of the 'Why' product exists or was born in the first place.
They lie in the spectrum between Moderate and Intense and are spread between these two ends.
4. Leaders - These are the people who drive the product journey and are in a way devotees of the product's MiViPhi and lie in the spectrum starting from and going beyond Intense. They are creators/founders who along with other core team members define, design, develop and sustain the product, as well as communicate it's MiViPhi to the world out there. They make sure everything connects and aligns to the product's MiViPhi and the reason it exists in this universe.
Their drive and frequency are far beyond the levels of the rest of the crowd and that is what makes them Leaders.
There has to be some reason behind defining all these and the reason is the lesson it has for all of us.
It is highly important that Leaders make sure that the product and its ecosystem serve all other three in a way that more and more people relate to and connect with the Product's MiViPhi and move from being Spectators to Observers and Contributors, and even Leaders in the long-run.
And it is not just Leaders that need to take lessons from this as it is highly important that people who are Spectators become Observers and Contributors as no one knows whose contribution will bring what change of fate to the product's journey.
The more people feel part of the product journey, the better for everyone in the Ecosystem, and also for the Product's future. Only when we contribute our best to the product and its ecosystem, we can expect it to not just exist, but thrive, blossom, and make the impact it was created for.