"Clear Is Kind. Unclear Is Unkind.": How Waze Built a Community of Super-Fans

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Sep 17, 2023

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"Clear Is Kind. Unclear Is Unkind.": How Waze Built a Community of Super-Fans

In today's fast-paced and interconnected world, effective communication is more important than ever. It's not just about being polite or avoiding conflict; it's about creating trust, engagement, and shared purpose. As BrenΓ© Brown says, "Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind." This idea applies not only to personal relationships but also to leadership and organizational culture. In this article, we will explore the importance of clear communication and how Waze, the popular navigation app, built a community of super-fans through effective communication and engagement.

Leadership and Communication

Brave and courageous leaders are essential for fostering an environment of clear communication. Avoiding tough conversations, such as giving honest and productive feedback, can diminish trust and engagement within a team or organization. When leaders prioritize clarity and openness, they create a culture where people feel safe to express their thoughts and concerns. This, in turn, leads to higher performance and a shared sense of purpose.

Waze's Journey to Success

When Waze started in 2006, mobile navigation apps were virtually non-existent. The founders, Ehud Shabtai, Amir Shinar, and Uri Levine, faced a significant challenge in acquiring the necessary map data to offer a valuable service to users. The cost of licensing existing maps was prohibitive, and obtaining raw data was almost impossible. However, they had a unique idea - to crowdsource the mapping process.

Waze leveraged the power of community to build their map. They encouraged users to drive around with the app open, allowing their GPS data to be captured and used to create a map. Volunteers would then manually label the streets, adding crucial metadata. This process required a small group of highly engaged users who were willing to invest their time and effort. To motivate participation, Waze implemented a gamification platform, rewarding users with points and virtual goods.

Building a Community

Waze recognized the power of community in their success. They understood that a small percentage of users would be actively involved in shaping the map, while a larger percentage would be enthusiasts. By appealing to the intrinsic motivation of the 1% and gamifying the experience for the 9%, Waze created a sense of belonging and participation.

Additionally, Waze fostered emotional connections with their users. They showed traffic reports from nearby users, even if they were not directly relevant. This created a sense of camaraderie and solidarity among users, as they knew others were using the same app and contributing to the collective knowledge.

Lessons Learned

Waze's journey teaches us several valuable lessons about building a community through effective communication:

  • 1. Prioritize Clarity: Clear communication is essential for creating trust and engagement. Avoiding tough conversations or feeding half-truths only diminishes relationships. Leaders should strive for openness and honesty.
  • 2. Harness the Power of Community: Building a community of engaged users can lead to success. Identify your super-fans and empower them to contribute to your product or service. Gamification and recognition play a crucial role in motivating participation.
  • 3. Create Emotional Connections: People want to feel a sense of belonging and purpose. Find ways to foster emotional connections with your users or customers. Show them that they are part of something bigger and that their contributions matter.

Conclusion

In a world where communication is key, leaders and organizations must prioritize clarity and openness. Waze's success story demonstrates the power of building a community through effective communication and engagement. By valuing clarity, harnessing the power of community, and creating emotional connections, Waze was able to create a loyal following of super-fans. Take these lessons to heart and apply them to your own leadership and communication practices for greater success.

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