Who am I (and why I care about community)?
(My standard bio always included a paragraph like the following)
Mark Kilby co-founded a number of professional learning organizations such as Agile Orlando, Agile Florida, Virtual Team Talk, and the Agile Alliance Community Group Support Initiative among others. His easy-going style helps teams learn to collaborate and discover their path to success and sustainability.
I thought it might be time to expand on this below…
Chain conversation on community on March 31, 2021
The chain conversation was a way to move away from boring webinars to more engaging online formats. The idea: Have two people have a conversation on a topic .. there are some questions .. but you don’t necessarily need to stick to them. Then one person drops off and another person picks up the conversation. They may go in a completely different direction, but they stick with the theme.
Theo approached me to join in on this conversation on communities on March 31, 2021 – https://www.theoengland.com/communities-today
If you read the rest of this page, you'll understand why I did not hesitate to say “yes” to this chain conversation on community.
Why talk about community?
Community is part of who we are as humans. It is what we do to thrive and learn.
Community has been woven into my career for many years. At first, I was a participant on mail lists, multi-user domains (MUDs), and forums. I appreciated the diversity of thought and I learned from people I never met in person. In the early 1990s, I even helped develop some experimental 3D communities through a university.
The first public community I helped start was ourfrontporch.com, launched in 1999. This was an attempt by our local newspaper to provide a web presence for many non-profit groups. Actually, it was more of an exploration on how the local newspaper could remain relevant in the emerging age of the world wide web. The site did not last more than a year as the newspaper saw no return on it's investment. And like all newspapers, they still seek relevance as a news source on the web.
But I learned many lessons from those early communities and used those lessons to help start new communities.
Agile Communities I Co-Founded
NOTE: I am no longer involved with organizing these agile communities. Please see the links below to contact the appropriate leaders.
In The agile software community has given me many opportunities and I try to give back where I can. Here are a few of the groups I work with.
Agile Orlando (founded 2008)
I helped to co-found this organization in 2008. This was in the early days of “agile” and many in Orlando needed a safe place to learn and practice new skills.
Agile Florida (founded 2012)
I helped to co-found this organization in 2012. After Agile Orlando had risen and fallen a couple of times, I decided to reach out to other Agile Meetup leaders. I connected with Tampa and South Florida initially. At one point, Agile Florida included North FL Agile, the Space Coast Agile (mostly Melbourne, FL), Gainesville Agile, Agile Orlando, Tampa and South Florida. Unfortunately, Space Coast Agile and Gainesville Agile shut down by 2019.
Not long after that, we started the Agile Open Florida conference in 2014 with guidance from Ainsley Nies, Suzanne Daigle, Michael Herman, and others in the open space community. It now gathers over 150+ agile Floridians every year (even virtually in 2020).
In 2019, I handed over the shepherding of Agile Orlando and Agile Florida to other capable community leaders to pursue new business opportunities.
Agile Alliance Community Group Support Initiative (founded 2016)
Based on my work with Agile Orlando and Agile Florida, the Agile Alliance asked if I (with my Agile Florida co-founders, Stephanie Davis and Ryan Dorrell) could help start this initiative in 2016. I helped agile community groups worldwide to get started and continue to connect and grow with the broader agile community.
In 2017, Craig Smith of Australia joined me as co-director and now he runs the initiative. In Feb 2021, I left the initiative to fully launch my dream, K5labs.
Agile Communities Online I Admire
I do not run these communities. Other wonderful people started them. I just always appreciate the conversations in these communities and you may find them useful as well.
Hands On Agile Community (Slack)
One of my favorite communities. Very vibrant and helpful. Start in Berlin by Stefan . Over 9000 as of May 2021. Sign-up for Hands-On Agile Slack at https://goo.gl/forms/LObbRtSF9vvxN3CL2
Agile Coaching Community (Slack)
Started after the Agile2016 conference for coaches to share ideas and insights. A smaller community of over 2000 but also quite helpful. Sign up at https://p4a.herokuapp.com/
Agile Uprising Community (Discourse and Discord)
More North America-centric, but you may be surprised who you find there. Check out their podcast too. They have a Discourse (more email-friendly) and a Discord (more Slack-like) community. Find the “Join Us” link in the top navigation menu on the Agile Uprising website to join either or both.
Remote Work Communities (co-built)
Virtual Team Talk Slack Community (founded 2015)
The Virtual Team Talk (VTT) community spun up after the Distributed Agile Teams Flock (DATFlock) conference in 2015. The conference, organized by Lisette Sutherland, included several of her early guests on the Collaboration Superpowers podcast.
While VTT primarily meets asynchronously via a Slack community, 2016-2018 marked experiments with many tools and even regular gatherings in venues like Sococo (shown below).
Pilar Orti organized many of these first events. I'm deeply grateful for her energy, creativity, and curation around these events.
Pilar, Lisette and I helped keep the Slack community running as the “main entrance” and primary socialization area. Special interest groups quickly popped up around remote facilitation, virtual reality, and other topics.
VTT continues today, primarily as a Slack community. Much still is shared around tools and trends.
Remote Together Community (founded in 2020)
Not everyone is a fan of the attention-grabbing tendencies of Slack. Also, some communities seek a different focus. In 2019, Judy Rees evolved more of her training around remote facilitation based on Clean Language and wanted to build a community around that focus.
With the pandemic in 2020, her services were in high demand. Judy and her husband Steve launched Rees McCann as a boutique consulting firm but were asked by many if they could learn more of her techniques (myself included). The launched a licensing program where people co-trained and then delivered the training, but there was something missing to keep everyone connected: community.
In the summer of 2020, they launched the Remote Together community to support licensed trainers and customers on remote facilitation, team building and large-scale event design all with the foundation of clean language. We discussed options and they moved forward with Mighty Networks based on my recommendation.
I assisted with some of the original community curation which included introducing people to the community, providing some initial events for community members to meet, and interacting with the community to gauge what needs were expressed. Judy and Steve continue to launch new courses and groups on their community today.
Need help with your community?
Building community is part of what I do naturally. I enjoy keeping up with the technologies, trends and models for community building. In some way, I am always building community. If you need help in this area, contact me.