The LCW Nework has over 6000 members as of September 2009. What does it mean to be a member? How do you determine what makes for an “active” member versus a “paper member”? These are some of the questions that we get confronted with both inside the network and outside. To address these questions and to provide a framework for the IT infrastrucuture we are developing around gauging member engagement in the network we have developed a ‘Typology of Network Member Engagement”. (see below)
A few things about member engagement in the LCW Network and this Typology. First, we do not use the “active vs paper member” distinction to drive our thinging about membership. In our view there is a range of “good” engagement in the spectrum of how and why people are involved: from light and narrowly self interested to deep and altruistic. There are also a variety of functional ways to be involved — which hopefully are designed to invite in and effectively employ a wide range of gifts and skills and knowledge. So variety and flexibility are important. Next, it is not optimal for everyone to move from the light/self interested to the deep/altruistic; getting more involved and taking more ownership along the way. This is not for everyone and it should be an option not an expectation. On the other hand it follows that the pools of more engaged members are mostly going to come from the larger pools of people who have spent some time testing and tasting the waters so to speak. So having large numbers from which smaller numbers of people can self-select greater levels of engagement is an important mathematical element of member engagement. Finally, the Typology is called a “typology” because more than gauging “levels of involvement” we want to gauge and understand “types” of involvement – following the demand so-to-speak so that we are not walking around with too many idealized concepts of what “good engagement” is. The tool that we have developed is meant as a guide to give us decent information from which, it is understood, we can better shape an environment that optomises the opportunities for meaningful engagement my members.