A facilitator of a community “Hosting team”
Impact HUB Tokyo is a co-working place where Impact Makers get together. Various initiatives are created in order to facilitate collaboration between members. In Part 1, we covered how the design of the space, facilities, and furniture can support innovation. However, no matter how amazing the space is or how many strangers are gathered together…that alone isn’t enough for innovation. In order to new approaches, the “software” needs to be added to the existing “hardware”. In other words, there has to be a system that helps foster relationships between members to become a networked community. For this post, we will introduce the Impact HUB Tokyo’s “hosting team” that curates, supports, and nurtures this community ecosystem.
The Impact HUB Tokyo’s hosting team acts as a community facilitator. This role has multiple facets, but it could be divided roughly into two types. The first one is the role as the administrator to ensure that members using the co-working space can work comfortably. A host is crucial to help minimize distractions for members who want to focus. For example, the responsibilities can range from booking meeting rooms, to explaining how to use facilities and trouble shooting equipment for members. A host is there to help address issues so that members don’t have to break the flow of their work.
Community is bound by “why” not “what”
Another key role for the hosting team is facilitation to proactively nurture an active community. Communities can exist without a host, but a host can help identify appropriate initiatives, foster positive energy, and inspire the community with new ideas. One of the hosts who specializes in cross-cultural communication, Misaki Iwai, describes the role as follows:
“A host is like catalyst for the Impact HUB Tokyo community. We support new members so that they can be get used to the environment easily. Our role is to bring the right mix of people together, the way chemists invent new compounds. Through our daily interactions with members, we know their priorities and challenges and connect them to the relevant Hub members at the right time. If members have the same challenge, we may create events or offer a team learning session.”
While doing these things, they have also observed how the community responds and realised that there is one more essential condition to produce innovation. The members in the community are bound together not by the what, but by the why.
“When people first get to know each other, what do they do? What position do they hold at work? What is their appearance like? In other words, we tend to focus on the “what”. Of course, collaboration can happen based on the “what”, but in order to go deeper, and have collaboration become innovation — for this challenge, my opinion is — And I really like this — people need to be brought together with a shared *why *[purpose].”
Collaboration can happen even at the what level. For example, if a company wanted to improve their design, they would ask a designer, “What am I missing, or what can I do?” in case of a company who wants to enhance their design, if they agree with the approaches proposed, then they can collaborate to improve the product. Once you’ve started collaborating, in order to create deeper and large-scale changes over time, there needs to be a process of continuous innovation.
On the other hand, the discontinuous quantum leap process* is complex and cannot be approached in a straight forward manner. Members who still have many uncertainties, but have issues they cannot stop thinking about may talk to other members about their ideas bit by bit to refine their ideas. The people who end up working together are connected not for utilitarian purposes, but rather by a shared sense of passion, and are able to collaborate and produce results that they couldn’t have imagined alone.
The hosting team understand the importance of process for innovation and takes time every day to have casual conversations with members to get a sense of their personal “why”. When they see commonalities, they connect people who seem unrelated on paper. Misaki describes the process as an iceberg.’What we can see is just the top of iceberg, and we can’t see bigger parts under water. A host’s most critical skill is the ability to see under water and connect the members at the right time.’ The hosting team at Impact HUB Tokyo is supporting community beneath the surface.
This piece is a translation from Impact HUB Tokyo’s original post “Impact HUB Hosts’ STORY Vol.2 HUBのメンバーシップとホスティングチーム（前編)” with permission.
Writer/Editor: Ishikawa Koumei (石川孔明)
Translator: Yuki Fujimoto
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