• When FanOrgs happen

    by  • August 24, 2015 • OD and L&D • 0 Comments

    Not too long ago I wrote about the fandom organisation. I shared that post with a good friend of mine, also a consultant, asked me a great question: how do you achieve it?

    Not too long ago I wrote about the fandom organisation. I shared that post with a good friend of mine, also a consultant, who asked me a great question: how do you achieve it?

    So how do you achieve a fandom organisation?

    I told my friend I didn’t know.

    As I continued to question myself about creating fandom organisations, I realised that trying to formulate fandom into the work environment so that shareholders could get richer feels a bit sticky and unpleasant to me, because fandoms are so deeply personal.

    So I stopped thinking about creating fandom organisations, and just marvelled at them as they happen.

    But then fandom organisation happened to me.

    When fandom happens

    I had the pleasure of working with four amazing people, putting up a fundraising event. The five of us spent about four+ months making this event happen in our spare time, just because we believed in the cause.

    But five people don’t make a fundraising event.

    Five people coordinate it. It’s the hundred and seventy people who signed up for the physical challenge we threw at them, the dozens of volunteers and hundreds of people and businesses who sponsored them and helped us raise over £16K (at the time this blog was published).

    {Imagine awesome montage of Petals in the Park here. Or go check out the hashtag from the day.}

    This short and sharp fandom organisation crystallised for me four things about fandom organisations. Maybe these will be useful to you, too:

    1. Define “organisation”

    My personal favourite definition is “a group of people working together towards a common goal”. This works really well in this context. When we create our fandom, we need to define our group and make sure we define our goal.

    (Don’t cut corners on this, don’t leave assumptions unturned. This needs to be very explicit and agreed upon.)

    2. The 3 motivators

    This isn’t new stuff at all, yet I still find it super useful to remind myself of these three. Dan Pink, The Master of Motivation, suggests that the three core motivators for people are mastery, self-direction and purpose. Folks in fandom organisations should be able to find all three in the FanOrg without anyone telling them what they are.

    I know “should” is a dangerous word that invites assumptions to run rampant, but this is kind of the point of FanOrgs. People have their own stake in them, for their own mastery, self-direction and purpose (this is partly what I mean by fandoms being personal).

    (They don’t have to be the same across the FanOrg, mind you; and that’s partly why the definition of organisation and goal are important.)

    3. Make it snappy

    I personally believe that FanOrgs need to be not only goal (see Point 1), but time specific. Let’s face it, it appears as though attention spans have shortened of late.

    Once the goal is achieved, we need to stop the train and give fans an opportunity to disembark, stretch their legs, have a coffee, have a comfort break and decide whether or not they want to come back on the train.

    Refuelling at the station is a good time to redefine the FanOrg (Point 1), and those who want to get back on the ride, can. Those who come back on are bought in to the new fandom organisation, with its new defined goal. The beauty of a shorter timespan is that we can all assess things as they happen and engage with Point 4 more frequently.

    4. Renegotiating

    Things change. Everything changes, actually. So holding on to what the plan was when things shifted could be argued to be pointless, if not counter-productive. So when it feels like there is a brick wall uncomfortably close to our foreheads, it’s time to renegotiate. Discuss any and all three points above, as necessary, until there is a new agreement for each one.

    I should note that sometimes one needs to negotiate with one’s self and assess whether the three motivators are still there. If not – maybe it’s time to get off the train.



    Use these four points to select the team for your next project and let us know how you get on!

    Good luck!


    What do you think? Can these tips help you make your dream project team or your FanOrg? Please comment!

    Do say hi or ask a question – reach me on email@ or @twitter.


    Image credit to christoph burgdorfer via freeimages.com


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *