Wow, yesterday was rather exciting. Crocheters and knitters rallied through social media via Twitter and Facebook and on their blogs to mobilize against the slurs cast upon us by what is claimed to be a form letter by the USOC. (Read my open letter) Two things come to mind as I reflect on the incredible energy filled day of tweets, posts, and emails.
1. No one enjoys being marginalized. Knitters railed at this event and did so loudly, but oddly their anger at the USOC’s poor excuse for an first run on their apology (oh yes, they made two apologies), seems interesting. Because as annoying as it is to be treated dismissively, that is exactly how we in the crochet community have often been treated when we voice discomfort or annoyance at being left out of events. Even worse we get accused of being whiners and cheap for not buying products when they are not marketed to us, but when we pipe up we get told we’re over reacting.
I’m not writing this to fuel any kind of fire, I am stating it because it’s true and I think we have a rare opportunity. While things are fresh in the knitting community’s mind and hearts, I implore yarn stores and companies to think carefully about their image and messaging to crocheters. Remember, we’re loyal, if you treat us right, we treat you right, see how we came together yesterday? We did something collectively against a perceived threat, what if we could generate that kind of energy around a shared cause that wasn’t about survival or self protection but was about THRIVING together? Does that make sense? If we support EACH OTHER economically we are a powerful force! We have more than 30 million households combined, that’s a lot of economic power, that is about 1/3 of the US population that either crochets (17.4 million households) or knits (13 million households). What could it mean if you actually served up to our market? Wow, what a win/win.
2. The USOC missed a golden opportunity in it’s PR campaign. I kind of feel bad for them, after all they approached things just like corporations usually do, and yes they are a corporation under the 501 c classification (it means you can’t pay share holders or investors, you have to reinvest in your business), they operated under the “MINE” principle. Imagine this: What would it have looked like if they had merely asked to have their trademark respected by not using the terms without permission, but offered a partnership where by the community could have their games and support various parts of Team US? You know adopt a sport? What would their PR situation look like then? Instead of 2 million angry Ravelry users, some of whom are threatening to boycott the games and sponsors of the Olympics, they could have gotten at least the 2 million Ravelry folk plus more for doing something that was mutually beneficial.
It’s called PARTNERSHIPS and partnerships are cool because they are SUSTAINABLE.
The model of business the USOC was employing is the most common globally, it’s based on survival and corporate Darwinism, only the strongest survive. But when you partner with people you engage in a different kind of evolution, a modern interpretation, and you build together to THRIVE.
That’s what I teach businesses and not for profits to do in my local area. Instead of constantly worrying about what the other guy is doing or has or will do, I have them find out how to network and support each other in their communities so that they can thrive. It’s working really well, it’s not Pollyannish in the least, it’s a way to acknowledge our interdependence and inter-connectivity so that everyone does well as possible. It still requires individual efforts, each person or organization has their strengths and limitations, and to truly thrive is an individual choice.
But, imagine what would have happened if the USOC had entered into a partnership? There would have been no media storm and their spokespeople and PR folk wouldn’t have had to run to Costco for a case of anti-acid. (USOC I’m available as a consultant on partnerships, email me anytime.)