What are the risks of starting an internal community without thinking through effective community management? [Quora]

The question on Quora is expanded to ask:

When launching an internal community platform, it’s often quite tempting to get lost in the technology implementation. Now it’s definitely quite important to provide an attractive first release of collabware, but what role does community management play in making the roll out effective? Or is community management secondary to the software release?

Certainly one must look at the factors that constitute successful communities within any organization of people:

  1. Identification of how the “community” can be grouped into teams.
  2. Means for teams to communicate clearly and effectively.
  3. Diverse contributors attracted to the community to both get involved and build on the goals of the community.
  4. Fostering of environmental conditions within the organization conducive to pursuing those wider goals.
  5. Definition of the scope of each team and the support mechanisms to help team members understand that scope.
  6. Explicit, common expectations of conduct.
  7. Related to #6, A means to both follow and assert governance and direction.
  8. Related to #2, Establish communication channels between a governance body and those whom they govern.
  9. Related to #4, Foster a culture where members of the community can engage in debate and discussion with their governing bodies.
  10. Recognition and commitment to the process of culture that continually seeks to inspire, motivate and enthuse the community based on future opportunities, candor and openness of the governance.
  11. Clear, objective, mature and acculturated approaches to solving conflict and contention, as well as decision-making when faced with deadlocks.

I’m re-iterating points laid out by Jono Bacon(http://www.jonobacon.org/), who is the author of a tremendously helpful (and CC-licensed for free download) book called “The Art of Community.”(http://www.artofcommunityonline….) I would also highly encourage reading the works of my favorite Communities of Practice people, like Jane Bozarth and Etienne Wegner, but Jono Bacon is a working Community Manager for Ubuntu and his book is an excellent “nuts and bolts” guide on how-to organize and continually develop online communities.

My first experiences at building communities inside organizations (outside organizations are slightly different animals) I can identify my failures to meet the demands of some of these factors and how they affected the success and longevity of such community efforts. For example, with direct relation to #7, part of having governance in an internal community requires the voracious sponsorship of organizational leaders. Many organizational cultures, in part or whole, are still very “top-down” so without advocacy on the part of a group’s leadership, there is little chance that formal identification with the community will occur.

Related posts:

  1. Learning and Knowledge Community Catch-up
  2. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Organizational Social Media Needs
  3. Simple Governance for Learning Communities

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Aaron E. Silvers

Interesting that the link didn’t make it through from the post on my personal blog. At any rate, thanks so much for linking the Quora thread. I’m finding Quora so incredibly valuable for getting perspectives on my hunches and what I think is wisdom. It’s always nice to have something I post get voted up, but the best parts for me are when things get comments and push-back to improve. I live for those threads.