A community of knowledge

A community of knowledge – my definition – is a group of people united by sharing information about a common interest. It is literally ‘two (or more) heads are greater than one’. As our design world fractures, and specialist tasks increase, communities of knowledge will become – my prediction – even more important.

I’ve several communities of knowledge and I love each one.


My breakfast for designers (called Design Yak because the first café we met in was called The Yak) is a community of knowledge. We’re a collection of creators of all kinds: designers; writers; content creators; photographers; strategists and podcast producers, who meet once a month to talk shop over breakfast. We share skills, knowledge, wins and challenges. We support each other emotionally (through births, major birthdays and deaths) and physically (through shared resourcing).

It works because we’re the same but different. It means we can look at the same problem from many viewpoints

Pre COVID we also ran breakfasts in Sydney and Perth … there’s absolutely no reason a designer can’t start their own breakfast yak in their building/suburb/town/region. All it took was a few (OK a lot) of emails and some organising. Hit me up if you want more info. The benefits far outweigh the emailing.


I’m a member of a few Slack communities of knowledge. In every single one, every single week, gems of knowledge are shared. Software, products, resources, and readings are regularly discussed. Shout out to my Bravely Managing family who share the most valuable information. Examples include photographers perfect for a specific brief, software to measure time or my absolute favourite – help needed to source a printer for chopstick wrappers!

I recommend joining and contributing to a Slack community or start your own with some mates — they are indeed communities of knowledge


Our monthly roundtables are perfect examples of (online) communities of knowledge. Yes, they’re centred around mentoring but the participants share knowledge about their business, about their methodology and about their solutions with us and with each other. Infact one of our roundtables met without Greg and I for one participant to share her knowledge of Streamtime with the others. (Or they’re planning a mutiny – we’ll know for sure if we’re locked out of the next meeting). They are true communities of knowledge.

We have monthly zoom meetings and continue the conversation on Slack. Online is perfect when participants are spread from (quite literally) the west side of Australia across to New Zealand.


I’m also an active member of Never Not Creative. The Discord channel is a constant source of knowledge around never not being creative; about never not pushing for more value and respect; about protecting our mental health and about my personal bugbear: unpaid internships. I’m on a committee of like-minded people who support creative businesses offering internships and protecting graduates wanting an internship. Any creative is free to join – the more, the greater the community of knowledge.


And finally Design Business Council, a business Greg and I founded to share our knowledge. We share our research in writing; by networking, mentoring, and teaching. We gather and harvest the knowledge of many, collate and then share to our community.

Take away

  1. None of it is brain surgery but it’s very satisfying (and really efficient) to share and learn from others.
  2. I thoroughly recommend joining or building your own community of knowledge.
What do you think? Got any problems/questions? As always, happy to discuss further, just email.

Carol Mackay

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These articles talk more about working in the creative industry:

  1. Postmortems – something I first heard about from our friends at Portable
  2. Using knowledge from the health industry to learn more about project management
  3. I’m talking to recruiters across Australia to build knowledge about ‘what’s a fair wage?’

About Carol Mackay

After 30+ years running a graphic design firm, Carol pivoted from client-focused projects to consult to the design industry.

Carol’s special power has always been an ability to use design to translate difficult to understand or complex messages. She believes design brings clarity to complex issues. From clarity comes understanding, and understanding leads to knowledge.

As a designer she used those skills with clients like The Magistrates, County and Supreme Courts; Ombudsman schemes and Emergency Service agencies. At DBC she uses the same skills to help designers de-mystify the complexities of managing a small business.

Outside of DBC Carol mentors graduates and is an active volunteer at Never Not Creative, a community of creatives pushing for change in the creative industry.


An archive of Carol’s previous career is at mbdesign.com.au.
Current work can be viewed at designbusinesscouncil.com and designbusinessschool.com.au.

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