We know that community is everything. It helps us find meaning in our work, it centers our relationships with people around us and connects us with others who share common interests. We see community every time we host a Signal conference, and we see it among our readers. 

The way companies engage with the communities they are part of matters to their employees, customers, and also their investors. What does “community” mean for businesses? It may be support for community organizations, disaster relief or even serving as a community “catalyst.” Sometimes, “community” even defines a business model.

But is community impact also good business? We asked David Young, BCG senior partner and expert on this topic, why companies should care about the communities they are part of. Bottom line is that it makes a company relevant to customers, creates employee pride and motivation, and builds reputation. 

Consider the story of Ruta N. Companies and public institutions worked together to reinvent Medellin, Colombia, as a center of innovation. This could only be done through a shared community effort that included many companies in Medellin and beyond. 

In the Netherlands, community is at the center of one firm’s business model. Dutch e-commerce company Picnic centers the shopping experience around scheduled neighborhood deliveries, similar to the door-to-door milkman in a bygone era. Bringing the neighborhood community together is an explicit part of Picnic’s proposition.

For our Signal Conversation this month we talked to renowned MIT professor Sherry Turkle, who is an expert on the effects of technology on how people interact. Her new book is focused on the power of empathy as a powerful ingredient for human relations, which is critical for thriving communities. However, technology and businesses are focused on reducing friction, which might come at the expense of building human connections and community.

We are grateful for the growing Signal community and hope that you will find inspiration to impact the communities you are part of. Until next month, when we will focus on the Future of Advertising.

Stan Joosten & John Battelle,

Editors-In-Chief, Signal360 / Co-founders, Signal P&G