Community Leadership Summit 2010

It’s been a week since I returned from the Community Leadership Summit in Portland and I’ve had a chance to digest the event. The CLS is a 2-day unconference organized by several longtime community managers, including Jono Bacon, Michael Van Riper, Marsee Henon, Dave Nielsen, and a bunch of others as well.

Unconferences are a tricky thing to pull off well, but the CLS team did a great job with this one. The 100+ CLS attendees came from all over the technology (and physical) map – there were tons of open source folks, representatives from major companies like Google, Oracle, Microsoft, PayPal, (and Adobe of course), Portland natives and people who’d flown in from Europe and even India. Piggy-backing the event on OSCON helped a lot, but I was far from the only person who came in just for CLS.

Sessions at an unconference are much more like focused discussions than they are presentations. The posted topic and what actually gets talked about can end up being very different. But that’s OK. I “led” two sessions (one on community conflict, the other on community lifecycles), but that essentially means I thought up a catchy title & put it up on the schedule board – the stars of my sessions (as all the others) were the participants.

I can’t say I walked away with any earth shattering new information but a few themes stood out:

We’re far more alike than different. Regardless of whether you’re involved in a technical open source community, a local block association, or anything in between, the challenges each community faces are remarkably similar.

It’s always a challenge. Conflict is virtually inevitable when strong-willed people are involved. You can’t avoid it but you can take steps to make conflict less frequent and painful.

Community == People. This one was particularly apt for technical communities. Your community is not composed of the tools you use or the bits you create – it’s the people at the other side of the screen.

I have a feeling I’ll be blogging more about these themes in the future as well. :)

For other takes on the weekend, check out the blog posts by Evan Hamilton and Andy Oram.