When community becomes your competitive advantage

We’ve seen a precipitous decline in participation in civic organizations in recent years; membership numbers are down for religious groups, labor organizations and non-profits. A cynic could interpret these trends as a sign that we have all become digital hermits, with our noses buried in our highly personalized screens. The reality is that powerful communities are not just alive and well but also booming. They just look different than they did 50—even 20—years ago. They are organized around businesses and brands and providing profound opportunities for companies around the world. Take Salesforce for example. While you might think its $140 billion valuation is due purely to its innovation of software delivered on demand through the cloud, it has also created a community of nearly 2 million members who support each other, organize events, produce content, and are a critical part of its global operations. This community is an international network of minds, talent, and time, all supporting the success of Salesforce. The company’s annual “Dreamforce” conference, which attracts nearly 200,000 acolytes to San Francisco each year, represents a mecca for its ecosystem to convene, build relationships, and advance it corporate agenda. Read more at Harvard Business Review.