Monday, 28 June 2010

Enterprise 2.0: Communities aren’t sites, they’re people


    The first session on communities at the Boston E 2.0 conference was part of the Black Belt Practitioners workshop on the first day:


Community Roles and Adoption Planning (Stan Garfield – Deloitte, Luis Suarez – IBM)
  • Stan is community evangelist for Consulting at Deloitte Touche where he leads the SIKM Leaders Community with over 400 members globally and Luis is Knowledge Manager, Community Builder and Social Computing Evangelist at IBM
  • Communities behind the firewall are groups of people who share specialty, passion, interest, roles, concern, set of problems. Communities are living organisms so very difficult to manage
  • Community members deepen their understanding of the topics by interacting, asking questions, sharing knowledge, reusing ideas, solving problems together, developing better ways to do things
  • People join a community to share, innovate, reuse solutions, collaborate, learn from others


Luis Suarez started the session by explaining that whereas some people feel every group is a community, this isn’t the case.  Communities need a shared passion about a common interest.

Most of the session was the taken up focusing on Stan Garfield’s Communities Manifesto and some of the key points from this, eg that communities should be independent of organisation structure – people shouldn’t be forced to join, so that members want to be part of the community.

I particularly liked this slide examining the differences between communities, organisation sites and teams:



Luis and Stan also provided suggestions for community building programmes.

Firstly, you need to find a compelling topic.  This needs to be made interesting.


Most importantly, communities need to be facilitated, actively nurtured – they won’t necessarily expand naturally.  People set up communities and 2-3 weeks later find them dead - people wonder why.

We need to ask them have you engaged people?  Have you provided the opportunity for the community to have community activities?

Communities need to be nurtured ever day, every hour of the day, by engaging with them and providing a plethora of activities - including physical activities.  Web 2.0 tools aren’t enough.

They need good content to ensure good health but this is only part of the solution.  You need to focus on connections, and help people connect with each other.  Connecting people with content and other people.  Focus on the interactions between people.


One key question is who is going to lead the community – and this could be several people  - these need to have passion for topic and time to build and sustain it.

When selecting a leader it’s useful to watch peoples’ communications.  Who are the hubs / connectors / mavens?  Who do people trust? – go to for advice?

But note, the best conversation leader may not be best facilitator.  So they’ll need coaching and up-front training.  And you can then have a community of community leaders.


Another interesting point was that lurkers are valuable.  Without them, we often wouldn’t have a community.  And they may eventually move from being passive consumers to active producers.


Communities generally manage themselves, ie the “we” eg if people post inappropriate content.  It’s not something the community manager needs to get involved in.


You can never communicate enough about a community, eg communicate to the community what is happening in the community.

And cross-pollinate across communities.


Note, because of the differences on the slide above, particularly I guess the lack of a clear purpose, managing a community takes more effort than managing a team.

However, it is potentially more valuable as well.  Communities provides a reason to stay in the company – they reduce attrition rates.


Of course, as Luis and Stan noted, communities have always been there - for decades.  We all have a very natural need to participate in communities – we want to bond with people.

But I’m not sure they’re often that actively created or managed in most organisations…


I thought this was a really engaging and interesting session.  While the presenters were talking I was thinking about a community that I’ve been ‘managing’ recently – called ‘Moon Shots’ this is a ‘community’ of 250 management regades bought together by an interest in Gary Hamel’s writings on management innovation.

Only it’s not really a community – a result of me not really managing it.  So I’m probably not going to continue it when ning changes its conditions next month. 

Yes, I’ve got the passion, but I’ve been a bit short of time.  And I’ve never really thought that much about my role - so these guidelines from Luis and Stan would have really helped as well.



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Technorati Tags: Stan Garfield,Deloitte,Luis Suarez,IBM,community evangelist,SIKM,Knowledge Manager,Community Builder,Social Computing Evangelist,manifesto


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