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Open Community is a terrific new book from Lindy Dreyer and Maddie Grant for associations that want to dive into the world of online community – and it includes cartoons from yours truly. To celebrate its launch, I’m running a new cartoon from the book every day this week.

“This above all, to thine own self be true,” said Polonius… shortly before winding up skewered by one Prince Hamlet in the arras, prompting centuries of snickering by high school students. (Funny thing: Mr. To-Thine-Own-Self died because of concealment and mistaken identity; a little transparency on his part could have made a big difference.)

But for organizations that want to engage with their audiences all Wikinomics-like, how to be true to yourself isn’t necessarily obvious. How do you maintain an authentic identity while releasing significant control to your members and supporters? Where’s the line between openness and allowing your supporters to define you and your mission?

The answer will vary – dramatically – from organization to organization. The important thing is to know going in where your line is… so you don’t wind up trying to be somebody you’re not. As countless family sitcoms have taught us, that may be a road to zany complications, but it won’t lead to authentic relationships.


(Baffled by the title? Find out about the nptech tag here.)

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