I had a conversation with foreign ambassador who asked why do we share everything, and aren't we afraid that someone will take our procedures or solutions, incorporate it and then take "part of market"
First, it is a hard word, "part of market", we are not corporation :)
And second, "the market" of the street, part of city, whole city, country, region, continent and world is so much it could sustain 1000 more clubs with no problem, we estimate
There was a talk, when we started going outside the boundaries of our country, certain clubs (plural) showed concern that we would take part of their "market". Second concern was, with our quality of presentation, assets (creations, extra equipment etc.) and our logistical assets we would make so no one would want previous concepts and quality of exhibits.
From our experience, where we show, we do raise the bar regarding quality - which forces clubs to innovate and evolve, moving them from stagnation. And we see evolution as a good thing. Of course, evolving and upgrading what you can offer is not a must, and you should do as we do - only as much as you feel like it, but those who aspire to work with professional institutions, evolution is a must, and there is no way around it, unless you somehow convinced the decision makers that you are pinnacle of evolution. If this is the case, we apologies for breaking that concept, but it is a false concept, so... maybe change concept and be honest? :)
and regarding first concern, that we will take "slots" from other clubs - there are so many malls, museums, schools, faculties, local community buildings etc. that we could do one event per day, and we would need years to finish just our country :) So, opportunities are out there - you just need to put some extra effort to find them, or create them. And second, with quality presentation and superb event, we influence both venue and visitors (who could be decision makers from other venues), to desire to make something like this for themselves. The "buzz" is spreading, and requests for events grow, when they are presented with quality event, with quality content, quality activities and quality execution
How to parley with decision makers on high level of company hierarchy, you can find article I wrote in Share&Care
So, you can be, as community, what you desire to be. If your desire is to be quiet, small club that does same space in their local games club every few months, or you decide to be a huge event managing machine that does few events in the same time, every Friday of the week - you can be. And BOTH of those choices are good and valued enough - the value of this choice is not in quantity or impact - it is in amount of joy you and your members get from activities you do
Meaning, don't be loud or silent because TLG or others clubs think this is best for you - YOU decide what is best for you, and do it. Success is not measure by numbers of events, quality of events or numbers of assets - it is measured by the amount of joy your activities bring to your members - trust me, this is the only measure for a community.
I have also noticed one thing, when I started training, my sports club was young, and there was one few years older, with more experience. We pushed so much to win matches with them, but we were constantly loosing first year - during second, we were equal, and during third, we were unbeatable. What we achieved in three years they needed ten. But then, when we were the best, we started stagnating - as we didn't had anyone to hone our skills against, and new club, that we trained, beat us within one year :) They had someone to compete with - so they evolved, as we stagnated :)
Same goes for AFOL clubs. If there is someone in the neighborhood that push innovations, new procedures, new concepts (new stuff on events). People usually know that something is possibility, but only when they see firsthand that someone has been able to do it, they gather courage to try it themselves.
So, in start, we were taking ideas where we saw them, and we implemented them, and we were average. Then we started updating those concepts, and also coming up with our own - and we become excellent, and now others were coping ours. So, we make some concept and exhibit, on next exhibit, other clubs have it to - so, for us to stay fresh and special, for next exhibit we need a new innovation.
This is concept that kept us on top, when clients were considering who to choose for Fan Zone.
But some of our concepts and procedures were complicated, and if you were to skip one step, it would have ruined the end result. The example is promoters - few years ago we experimented with visually stimulating promoters, and we had an aesthetically pleasing promoters on our event.
So the club from region did the same on their event, but it was total disaster, as they skipped a step: we have chosen promoters among our members, and this was not publicized anywhere. They rented promoters from promoters agency
So what happened? Our promoters where AFOLs, who were engaging with visitors, made tons of crazy happy pictures were love for the brand and happiness of being there was recognizable. We also took their own clothes and printed on their personal clothes our club logo and name. It fitted them perfect, and they looked and behaved perfect
The other club rented promoters who knew nothing about LEGO, same amount of aesthetics as ours, but lack of interest. They roamed cluelessly trough creations, and VERY fast lost all interest to being there, usually roaming outside the venue, through the rest of the mall. Those who were present, it was evident they are waiting for clock to ring four o clock, so they can go home. Add the fact they printed general shirts that were to large or too small for some promoters, and it all looked forced and artificial. And the impact was huge. Visitors noted that beauty is secondary and unexpected part of our appeal, which was a nice surprise, and noted that the other club rents people based on their looks, which they condemned, especially as it was kids show.
After a year or two of "Game of Thrones" we realized that using resources to leave impact on TLG or other clubs is waste of resources, and we focused EVERYTHING we had on structure and logistics.
This "shift" made us being always few steps ahead of others, as they needed time to implement new solutions and new ideas we already had, and during that time we upgraded or innovated.
So why share?
At one point there is fatigue of material, and innovation progress starts to slow down. Also, we are one and the same group of people, who think in a same way, great for starts, but to evolve more, we needed to add more diversity
And best way to do this is to bring other clubs around us to the same level, and they would evolve in their particular ways, ones that we can study and emulate
Extra is that evolved and accomplished communities (and persons) are more understandable about issues and struggles we are experiencing, and discussion is much different. Compare it with a person that has a kid and one that doesn't, the second can't really understand struggles of the first one, but also joys.
Sharing also has one extra benefit - people love it, and it makes friends. Friends add to social benefits, one of the most important ones - now, we are not Beokocka, community of AFOLs, we are Family, community of AFOL communities. And the joy of social interactions multiplies exponentially.
This is why we share our resources, and give all our assets for use, for free. And also go into details how to do something - it is in our interest that you evolve and become better, as it indirectly makes us better.
This philosophy goes to other countries we make exhibits, we believe people should cherish the opportunity to learn something new, and meet someone new - I know we do, as we travel a lot.
Funds are important for evolving - you can have a great idea, but if you do not have funds, you can't realize it, or you would need a longer time period to achieve it. How to offset that? Strong structure and logistics produces events that are better and better, and within few years, you will become expert in event managing, with strong base, great assets and enviable logistics - and people will hire you to manage their events, even if there are no LEGO bricks involved. You can always influence them to put in a workshop or play area, why not. Keep the Fair Play guidance on mind, though. When funds arise, do as Norway does - invest smartly, and limit the use of funds on only fun and evolvement. Balance the two, as the evolvement betters the fun, and happy and content people are better at evolving and innovating. It is our estimation that Beokocka will have one million euros of available netto funds for investing in structure, logistics and bricks within next ten years. Imagine that, a bunch of hobbyists, all with other regular jobs, doing things only when they desire and what they desire, and netto, when all expenses are paid. Imagine the good you can do with that amount of funds, healthy atmosphere and innovative bunch.
So, how to achieve this?
We suggest kicking out hierarchy and protocol in club. You are all equal in the sense you are all hobbists who have chosen to be there. Decisions are made by discussion. That means they are ALWAYS unanimous, as only facts and experience guides you, not desire to be somewhere in hierarchy. Support each other, even outside the club sphere, in real life. Make socializing events. Travel together to events. Make exhibits just for fun, with idea to strengthen your social bonds within a club - this will make you a unified force that will hold together through any issue that can (and will occur).
Then, start investing in structure and logistics. Go with basics - table cloth, club T-shirts (do not print, embroider on cloth, choose quality clothing) etc. Then go to lighted displays and banners (be sure to have IP guidelines on mind, so no minifigs, LEGO logo and similar - I would suggest printing your creations with your logo club - if this is expensive in your country, send me a HiRez picture and we will print it, you will pay just basic material (cloth and colors). There are so many options that you can utilize, like drawing tables, activity gadgets browse LAN for inspiration. There are topics of mine focused directly on visitors interaction and sharing knowledge, and there are Academy topics with helpful info also. In time, you will change aspects, change concepts, but that is ok.
There are many aspects of evolving to a certain level, and Beokocka is not, by far, the most evolved community, so listen, learn, ask and have fun while doing all that :)
For us, being content and accomplished while being socially active, and all that with ton of fun, laughing, dancing and just chit chatting is the goal. Traveling is also a benefit, meeting new cultures, new approaches, new people.
You can achieve anything you put your mind into - just be sure to know what you desire :)