There aren’t any steps. I’ve never really liked
“STEPS” lists, because they are too generic (unless you are putting
together the Space Shuttle, or something like that). It is as if they
will take you to the holy grail.
Steps imply that they must be done in order – in sequence. Yet each community is in its own phase. They have their own unique strengths
& weaknesses & culture. There isn’t a One-Size-Fits-All
method. It is impossible to come up with a list of steps that will
cover them all.
Instead, here are 10 things you must do (or not do) when creating a community.
- DO gather (virtually or in person) the community together (or a portion of it) and look at it from a performance improvement
perspective. You can’t go in thinking that an online community will
solve all of its problems. How much better to be able to go in,
recognize an area that can be improved, and then be able to provide a
solution, whatever that may be! If not provide it, then recognize what a
potential solution could be and who to contact. It could be training,
process re-engineering, dealing with cultural issues…
- Don’t just target the GenY or Millenials. Those who are older get this just as much as they do.
- Don’t ask them to blog, or tweet, or use a wiki. They won’t know what to do with it. Well then, how do we help them use these new tools?
- Work the tools into their workflow. If it is an extra chore, they won’t use it (this seems pretty intuitive, but is forgotten in
practice). Make it a part of how they work. But don’t focus on the
- Focus on the people, the culture. Usage of the tools will follow. Help the people “work out loud.”
- Don’t create communities hoping they will join. Make sure you have a plan! (Again, that seems obvious, but…) Throwing something out there
will rarely work. Be strategic, yet flexible enough to allow the
employees to set the agenda.
- Do set the example yourself. Use it. Show others how it can be used in the real world. At NASA we
are in the middle of development of our enterprise social solution. How
do we communicate? Using the tool and principles of transparency. I
can’t tell you how effective that has been in showing others the value
and how to use it practically. Oh, and I have avoided a ton of meetings
and emails as well.
- Do dare to be different. Don’t go with the flow which will only lead you back to the same results the organization has always achieved.
You MUST go against the grain – not to be combative, however. But when
people challenge you, stand up with them (not ‘to’ them) and help
educate them, allthewhile having a smile on your face. Some will laugh
at you and that is okay. Just smile, knowing that they will come back
later and use the very thing they mocked.
- DO focus on TRUST. I can’t stress this enough. Talk about it in your meetings, online, on the phone, all the time.
- Help others understand the difference between personal and professional uses – internal and external uses. They are very different (although they
can bleed into each other, but keep it simple with them for right now).
Beat that drum loud and hard.