I am often asked: How is my forum doing compared to other forums? There is no simple answer to this question, and apple-to-apple comparisons are difficult. However, you can examine your forum by asking these questions:
- Membership: Do we have the number of members we want, balancing the desire for optimal size, peer quality, and diversity of perspective?
- Attendance: Are most, if not all, members showing up on time to every meeting?
- Scheduling: Do we get our meetings on the calendar at least three months in advance? Are members willing to make forum a priority commitment so that scheduling does not become a huge time and emotional drain on the group?
- Leadership: Is our moderator responsive, engaged, and committed to the group’s success? Have we selected an assistant moderator, both to help now and to succeed the moderator when his/her term ends?
- Presentations: Are members willing, even eager, to explore their toughest issues and highest aspirations in forum?
- Retreats: Does our forum schedule an annual retreat to go deeper, reinforce best practices, add to its toolkit, and recommit to the shared forum journey?
Ask yourself these questions, and you can then qualitatively assess your own forum on a 1-5 scale: 1 (in real trouble), 2 (weak, needs support), 3 (doing pretty well), 4 (strong and high functioning), or 5 (very strong, transformational).
You still won’t know how you compare to other forums, but you will have a basis to take action inside the forum and get the help you need from outside. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions.