by: Steve Kovar

All associations desire growth: in revenue, membership, learners, or impact. It is a natural way to stay relevant, but also to help expand reach and deepen commitment to a shared cause. 

Product communities focus on growth through new programming, but also as a way to re-energize or create a vibrant, highly-engaged community

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This way, new products serve growth in multiple ways: in diversifying and growing revenue, but also in embedding a growth mindset that re-energizes community. 

The association can realize new heights through healthy, productive engagement and collaboration across the organizational boundaries of membership, engagement, budget, operations, learning, marketing, and technology. 

The product community is a competency-based experience and the mode of learning is a facilitative learning community. A learning community is an intentionally designed community of diverse learners who come together to solve problems. 

Learners learn from each other via experimentation and exploration. In learning communities, learning can be both formal and informal, technical and practical. 

It is these deeper forms of engagement that serve as the glue for creating a high functioning community. In doing so, members of the community develop, continually shape, and bring the best ideas to market. 

Over time, a powerful duality is formed: 

  1. Great products get to the people who need them the most and 
  2. An efficient and inclusive culture of co-creation emerges that energizes, excites, and connects members to each other and the core purpose of value-creation. 

Growth is achieved that feeds bottom line aims while positioning the association for the future, culturally and strategically.   

To satisfy the high aims of a learning community, the product community facilitators, guest speakers, and participants will develop and engage in a culture of co-creation

It may sound counterintuitive but creating a powerful learning community united in ‘growth practice’ is more important than individual command of the association product competencies.  

As an applied experience, the product community focuses on specific usable outcomes which are embedded in each dimension of growth (see the red text in the below table). 

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