Chris McCann's Personal Blog

Life's too short to not do awesome things

What characteristics make up a quality group?

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Last week I wrote a post on why getting involved in groups matter. Ironically a member of the Thiel Fellowship, a group which I help out, shared this article with me: Connect to Human networks to find breakout opportunities written by Reid Hoffman the co-founder of LinkedIn.

In this post I want to go one level deeper and write about the characteristics that make up a quality group.

In my experience here are five characteristics that makeup a quality group:

  1. High quality members
  2. Shared purpose
  3. Density of members
  4. A shared binding experience
  5. Long term commitment to the group

High quality members

High quality people want to associate themselves and invest time with other high quality people. Who you let into the group (and keep in the group) has a huge effect on the overall group quality.

When your leading a group you have to pay really close attention to what you how you are screening new group members and what your requirements are for joining the group.

We did this ourselves at my last company StartupDigest where we handpicked all of our curators who wrote for us, we had a set definition for who could become a curator, and we made sure members kept up their commitment to stay in the group.

Shared purpose

People want to join and participate in groups and associations that are bigger then themselves with a deeper purpose for existing.

These are not easy questions to answer but they include: what is your groups foundation for existence? why are we doing this? where do we want to go? what are our values? etc.

For a crash course on purpose I highly recommend this TED talk by Simon Sinek.

Density of members

A group can’t exist with one individual. To form a quality group you need a solid base of quality people that want to participate in the group, invest in the group, and have a shared purpose for being a part of your group.

Having more members doesn’t necessarily make a group better but you need a high enough density of members for discussions to take place and ideas to be shared.

A shared binding experience

Shared experiences are the glue that holds the the entire group together.

Imagine if you have 12 random people around a table for lunch. Afterwards there isn’t much of a shared experience between the 12 people.

Now imagine if you had 12 random people who all had to work together during an army bootcamp training exercise to solve a specific task to complete their mission. That’s the start of a true shared experience.

It doesn’t have to be that extreme but shared experiences such as events, activities, trips, and retreats help build trust between the members of a group and multiply it’s value.

Long term commitment to the group

People want to invest their time and energy into things that will be long lasting and potentially outlive ourselves.

If every generation of members are adding to the quality of the group the entire group will accumulate some serious value over the long term. For example just think about the Harvard University Alumni network or the World Economic Forum network and how these groups have become more valuable over time.
These five characteristics of quality groups can be applied to any type of group including: companies, co-working spaces, fraternities, alumni groups, trade associations, investment funds, etc.

If you are interested in this topic check out our company GroupTie and would love to talk further (chris at grouptie dot com). Also would love to hear any other ideas or experiences you have had for increasing the quality of the groups you participate or lead!


2 Responses

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    May 28, 2014 at 4:13 pm

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