Community-Led Growth

The Cyclic Framework for Community Development

by Gavriel Shaw
Director, Cyclic Media, Inc.

Serendipity becomes a forceful teacher...

I grew startups for myself and clients but never considered it through the lense of 'community'. 

I thought communities were hippy communes or Facebook Groups. 

Then as Head of Marketing for a FinTech in 2017 we grew to 1.5MM users in 10 months where I learned the power of customer community management when our service provider's license left us without product for 3 months! 

Today, a tool-kit gleaned through a myriad of personal and professional experiences over some 20 years has resulted in a framework that can adapt to any type of community, formal or playful, large of small. 

In hindsight it now seems obvious. The heart of growth is community.  Align and shine. 

The 3 Pillars of Community Growth


Align with values and interests. Things that community members care about and will ensure they care about eachother.


Provide worthwhile content, that is a pleasure to consume. A unique angle. Personality.


Create ways for community members to involve themselves with ways to contribute or gain personal growth. 

Blend those 3 pillars to ensure community-led growth by adapting the 4 phases of the Cyclic Community Framework below

Cycle 1: Insight Workshops


  • Collaborative whiteboard meetings
  • Community polls/surveys

Use fun gamified exercises such as the now popular 'sailboat exercise' to collect initial thoughts on direction, status, risks, and strengths. 

Formalize these into a collectively shared vision of current reality contrasted against a current view of desired reality. 

Cycle 2: Design Sprints


  • Structural Tension Charts (ref's one, two)
  • Silent Solutioning
  • Dot Voting

Most of us are unfamiliar with the space or patience required to curate and colate divergent ideas. 

Only then can convergence with alignment begin to manifest. 

Design Sprints allow ideation and reflection without firm decision making until a clarity emerges, which we capture as a community-driven PRT.  

Cycle 3: Experimental Consent



  • Key Result Areas
  • Fractional Role Specs
  • Accountability Consent

Using the sociocratic governance definitions of consensus and consent, see how well the community can function without friction via consent-based decision making. The ultimate form of individual autonomy. 

To get there, use an experiment-focused culture with extremely well defined micro-roles based on specific overarching key result areas. 

Cycle 4: Test & Learn Framework



  • Growth Scorecard
  • Hypothesis Versioning

Design a scorecard by which the community measures progress, and focus on the spirit of learning to adjust hypothesis that support objectives. 

Make it about their Objectives and Key Results, just as much as the organizations. Let them lead the charge into new frontiers of adaptation, learning, and experimentation. 

Once this framework is experienced... and while the exact tooling and steps may vary from community to community... you will forever hold the conviction of Cyclic Community Development.