About the Orbit Model

The Orbit Model is a tool for organizing, visualizing, and measuring communities. Since 2016, the model has fostered thousands of conversations about what makes communities work and how to grow, strengthen, and measure them.

Who's it for?

The Orbit Model is for community builders, advocates, founders, entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, and anyone seeking to organize a network of people toward a common goal. The Orbit Model community includes technologists, entrepreneurs, academics, data scientists, community practitioners, and people from many other disciplines.

Model origins

We created the model to scratch our own itch as community leaders at high-growth companies. As leaders, we had to report metrics and secure budget. In many cases, budget in high-growth companies is awarded based on a department's ability to support sales and create revenue. Marketing's job is to fill the funnel for sales. As community and advocacy are often associated with marketing, these teams are also asked to use the funnel to plan and justify their work. It's easy to see where the thinking comes from, but it's wrong, and it leads to a lot of headaches and unproductive conversations.

"How many leads did we get?" is not the right question to ask to determine if a community meetup was a good investment. The answer is nuanced and takes longer to unfold. Treating a community like a funnel will drive people away because it upsets the balance between value creation and value capture. If members feel like targets or transactions, their intrinsic motivation to participate will cease.

Community is existential. Today's customers expect companies to have a thriving community and take it as a red flag if they don't. The potential impact of community teams has never been higher! Realizing that impact still depends on a community team's ability to organize their work, explain their thought process, and show the business impact. We created the Orbit Model to help teams and individuals do exactly that. We hope you'll benefit from it and help us continue to make it better.

Project leadership

The company Orbit stewards and sponsors the advancement of the Orbit Model project. Orbit was founded by the creators of the model, Josh Dzielak and Patrick Woods, in 2019 to make it easier for companies to put the principles into practice. Dozens of people have contributed to the project since, in the form of ideas translations, and feedback from using it in the real world.

With the model now widely adopted, we are seeking other industry leaders to take a more active role in shaping the future of the project. If you're interested in getting involved, please email us.

Orbit Model history

  • June 2022 - Major updates, new website
  • July 2021 - Updated Orbit Level names
  • December 2019 - Talk about the model given at DevRelCon
  • November 2019 - Orbit Model put on GitHub
  • September 2019 - The company Orbit is founded
  • June 2019 - Orbit for developer relations blog post published
  • May 2016 - Name "Orbit Model" used for first time
  • November 2014 - First whiteboard drawing