Notes in the Margin

On the intersection of web apps, digital content and social media

Communities, Teams and Organizations; Requirements Differ

Last week was the E2.0 Expo in Santa Clara. This week it’s KMWorld 2010 in Washington DC. The topics seem interrelated, so there must be a swath of people herding from one side of the country to the other in pursuit of the latest thinking on building social Intranets.

One attendee at KMWorld, Bill Ives from Darwin Ecosystem, reported on a session called 10 Principles for Successful CoPs (Communities of Practice).  The principles are listed below, but it brings up another question about the kinds of groups that might form for any Intranet.

  • Communities of Practice, according to Wikipedia, is “a group of people who share an interest, a craft, and/or a profession.” The principles below are directed at this kind of group, which tends to be cross-organizational and voluntary.
  • Work Teams, are more focused and tend to work towards a common goal. The small and diverse group working on the new Intranet, for example, is a work team.
  • Organizations are structural parts of an enterprise, and can be either horizontal (HR) or specific to a product line or market.

Each of these kinds of groups – and there may be more – has its own requirements for communication and collaboration. An Intranet designed to address all three of these kinds of groups needs to be clear on those requirements, and perhaps even offer different kinds of groups based on the interactions required.

From the blog post, here are the ten principles:

One – Communities should be independent of organizational structure. They should be based on the content.

Two – Communities are different from organizations and teams.  People are assigned to a team. Communities are better with self–selection for joining and remaining.

Third – Communities are people and not tools. You should not start with tech features. A platform is not a community. Readers of the same blog are not a community but that might be a byproduct.

Fourth – Communities should be voluntary. The passion of members should be what drives a community.  You should make the community appealing to get members and not assign them to it.

Fifth – Communities should span boundaries. They should not be for a particular group likes Sales or IT. There is a lot of cross-functional or cross-geography learning that would be missed then. Diverse views help communities.

Sixth – You should minimize redundancy in communities. Consolidation helps to avoid confusion by potential members. It also reduces the possibility of not getting a critical mass. Reducing redundancy also enables more cross-boundary sharing.

Seven – Communities need a critical amass. You need at least 50 and likely 100. Usually ten percent are very active so you can get sufficient level of activity with 100 people.

Eight – Avoid having too narrow of scope for the community. Too much focus can lead to not enough members. Stan advises people to start broad and narrow if necessary.  Or start as part of broader community and spin off if needed.

Nine – Communities need to be active. Community leaders need to do work, often in the “spare time” at their regular work. This means that the leader needs a passion for the topics so he or she will spend this extra time. There needs to be energy to get things going.

Ten – Use TARGETs to manage communities. TARGET includes: Types, activities, requirements, goals, expectations, and tools. Each of these issues needs to addressed and explained to prospective members.  Tools are necessary, but the least important component, so they are placed last.

KM World 2010 and Enterprise Search Summit 2010 Session Notes: 10 Principles for Successful CoPs – Darwin Discovery Engine Blog.


Written by tstaley

November 17, 2010 at 10:33 am

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