Classifying a Community

Photo by Eric Ziegler

Defining categories of communities can be done in many many different ways: e.g.  by size (small, medium, large, humongous), types of people in the community (internal employees vs. external clients vs both), etc.

There are so many different types of communities that to be honest, it can scare away even the hardiest of requester for a new community. Last week I talked about the first step that must happen with requesting community managers, setting expectations.  Inside that post, I mentioned that some well intended requests come without knowing much about what a community could do for them.  So to help them understand what is available, I have often used the following examples to help the types of communities they could build

  1. Pushy Community – Not much of a community, but still there is the need for them in enterprises (hopefully rarely).   Success is defined as people reading the information)
  2. Interactive Pushy Community – This is the first real level of a community, where the push of information is accompanied with the ability to like, rate, and comment with the posts.  The community can’t post new messages, but they can interact with what is posted, allowing them to engage with the content and the content creators.  Success is defined as people read the information and interact and engage with the content. 
  3. Interactive Community – The community is built so that the community members interact with each other, collaborating on documents, asking questions, getting answers, and sharing information with each other.  Sometimes email is used to get the community re-engaged or to get the word out on the most important of information.  The success of the community is defined by people almost fully interacting and engaging in the community and occasionally relying on tools outside the community to interact with each other. 
  4. Collaborative Community – The community is built so that the community members interact solely using the collaborative tools available, collaborating  interacting, engaging with each other within the community. Success for this community is when the community members use the tools available to exclusively collaborate with each other and do not use external tools to collaborate.  (e.g. no email).
  5. Inter Collaborative Community – The community is built much the same way as the collaborative community, but instead of just collaborating within the community, the community members collaborate inside the community and with other communities and groups.  This community knows they are successful when each of the community members are always using collaborative tools in their day to day interactions.
You can classify communities how ever you would like.  In the above examples, I have laid out some examples of types of communities and how the communities would work, with the hope that when I describe these to an unknowing new community manager, they can pick a type and drive their community to success. 
How would you classify communities to a new community manager?  Would you use the same descriptions or would you describe them differently?  If you used the above example, would you add or subtract from the list?  For each of the above types of communities, what would you say make these communities successful? 

from Eric Ziegler’s blog

Storytelling for a New Era

At Change Agents Worldwide, we celebrate every company, every vendor, every pundit, every movement that seeks to change the world of work by introducing new ideas and technologies that will deliver a better answer for the Future of Work.

To that end, we applaud Yammer for creating this video that communicates the benefits of working in a more collaborative, more transparent workplace.

Kudos.  Keep ’em coming.

I am Lucky

Love what you doI often tell my kids, “Everyday I learn something new. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be enjoying life and living my life to (what I consider) it fullest.”

I am extremely lucky to work at a job where I don’t learn just one new thing every day, but often I learn many new things. I have the opportunity to work with great people, new technologies, old technologies and some in between. I get the fun challenges of trying to make them all work together. I have the opportunity to take look for ways to improve how I work and to help others around me to improve.

I am lucky.

I often tell the people around me, if you don’t enjoy what you are doing, go do something else.  It is not considered quitting, it is called living your life.

So my question to you, “Do you enjoy what you do?”

Paradise Lost?

Never, ever, think outside the box
Never, ever, think outside the box (Photo credit: Mrs eNil)

From its not-so-humble beginnings, introducing social concepts to the enterprise has been met simultaneously with disdain and excitement.  Vendors have led the charge in creating market awareness for the consumption of social software platforms and their related consulting and technical services.  And even though some still doubt whether a real market exists for social software, and I sometimes agree, social collaboration is no longer a radical, revolutionary idea.  It may be time to redirect the conversation away from vendors under pressure and give it back to the people who will benefit most from the change: the rank and file who slog to work every day.

The pace of real adoption and engagement has been slow.  Case studies that held so much early promise have become mired in the latent bureaucratic morass that is corporate life.  Justification for social collaboration initiatives today revolves around the same incentives that have served enterprise software well for decades – higher productivity, faster profits, reduced expenses.  In the maturation of the sector, we’ve lost the early human capital fervor that fueled this category (circa 2006).  The spirit of deep and profound change and the opportunity to significantly rewrite the rules of modern work has dissipated with the increased pressure to tie social adoption to concrete, short-term business outcomes.  But this emphasis on Excel-based decision-making misses the point on social inside the enterprise.  After all, it is about something larger, something transformational.

I think it’s time for the “mass of men leading quiet lives of desperation” (Thoreau) inside the corporate labyrinth, shackled to the economic incentives and rewards that rule them, to take back up the mantle for change.  The key will be the same challenge as it’s always been to change ingrained behaviors: why bother?

Here’s why: if the philosophy of social with its associated new social behaviors are adopted within an enterprise, the propensity for a richer (better quality employee experience), more loyal, more engaged workforce will make work endlessly more interesting and immensely enjoyable.  This emotional bond to work where rewards come in the form of a variety of intrinsic motivators (including but not exclusive to financial rewards) will deliver innovation, improved business processes, and fresh ideas.  This “stickiness” to the job will ultimately benefit shareholders (too).  The problem with enterprise social is the Catch-22 associated with instigating this change.

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