The community of practice (CoP) is perhaps the most common type of (online) community. In a CoP colleagues come together to share best practices with each other. Medieval guilds, professional associations and in some instances, school classes are examples of communities of practice.
I recently joined Bind as a Community Management Consultant, but what does that mean? What is Community Management?
If communities are people who share a common focus, then Community Management is the proactive design, development, activation and ongoing cultivation of the community. It’s a professional approach, backed up by relevant data, to connect people around a common goal. It’s about building bridges and creating value.
During any kind of organizational change there will be a temptation to tackle the process with new procedures and technology. Which makes sense, since these are concrete and quantifiable elements. Attempts at sustainable change of this sort will however always fail. This is because people are the defining factor. And to win over people’s heads and hearts, these people will have to be your starting point.
No two communities are the same, but there are still a number of standard ingredients which are essential for any type of community to become a success. One of these is for instance the presence of a community manager. This article will tell you which other elements are needed.
Unfortunately, too many existing online communities fail to integrate in the organization facilitating them. It will come as no surprise that these networks lead a rather dormant existence. To allow a community to reach its full potential it is essential that it is thoroughly embedded in the organization. Only then will there be anything at stake for both the community participants and the employees of the organization. But what is the best way of doing this?
When we visit a client, we always hope that management will fully embrace online networks. Making a success of a social intranet or online community is so much easier when a director is fully on board and acts as a digital leader who leads by example and does not throw in the towel at the first sign of resistance. But what exactly is a digital leader, and what is it that they do?
Looking at an online community like Wikipedia from the outside, it might seem like a tightly organized group of millions of people working toward the same goal. But look more closely, and you’ll see all kinds of members working on a wide range of activities, with varying motivations. Collaborations, various networks, cooperations and coordinated activities run in parallel. For good community management it is essential to understand the differences between them.
An unmoderated social intranet will often lead to an uncontrolled proliferation of groups. With one client we even found groups made up of one individual, who was just using these groups as an additional hard drive for his files. One thing that good group moderation does is to ensure that your intranet does not turn into a graveyard of long-forgotten initiatives. Proactive moderation can make all the difference here.
Meeting the demands of the digital age will require a new way of working. Take for instance the decision-making process. Organizations no longer have the time traditionally taken up by this process through a decision tree. The future belongs to organizations which are made up of multiple autonomously operating communities forming part of the larger whole (so-called pods).
The larger and more formal the organization, the more resistant to change it will be. What this means for communities or social intranets is that, after implementation, it will still take a long time to change employees’ behaviour. So should the organizational culture be changed first, before investing in a social platform? No – this blog will show you that giving employees a social platform is instrumental in any large-scale organizational change.