This will be even more sparse than the previous session notes, as I was dual-hatted to update the conference wiki for our breakout…

Questions to be addressed in this session:

  • Where should community management team sit in an organization?
    • Very dependent upon context, look to where the resource streams are coming from. Whoever provides the investment will want some ownership of the process.
    • Wherever it starts, the emphasis and interest will cross organizational boundaries due to politics, shifting alliances and investment profiles internal to the organization. In some business cycles, the marketing organization has the lion’s share of investments that may shift over time.
    • One large firm has developer communities, which are managed within the developer organization. They matrix in marketing or writing talent to assist in community growth. This community leader model means the leader is working across the firm to ensure his community gets the resources and talent it needs.
    • One firm with internally-focused communities is managed from within the strategy group, which provides top-level leadership and visibility. They are early in the process, and user traffic is being driven by the new ERP rollout (see my paystub, etc.).
    • How do users know what other initiatives (blogs, portals, wikis) are related to or in conflict with the community initiative? Where do they place community content, and how do they identify this as opposed to file shares, ERP systems, etc.
    • Cross-functional governance appears to become more important as communities proliferate. From an employee point of view, I will belong to multiple communities. How else to get common look and feel, common experience, etc.
      • Questions of infrastructure abound, but some communities are successful even existing only as listservs or mailing lists.
    • Group is converging on the idea of an overarching steering (advisory) committee (or community!), perhaps not engaged in management of communities, but advising regarding common infrastructure needs, best practices, rules of the road, etc. Techpubs example.
    • One firm has steering committee and operating committee, whose combined efforts help provide the prioritization among the “necessities,” (SSO, search, community autonomy, etc.)

      • Separate conversation about SSO: Lacking central enterprise SSO, one firm leveraged the login information from their community forums to *be* the corporate SSO.
  • What do we do when international divisions want their own community, in their own language and addressed to their local community? When are they separate and parallel, when should they be centralized? How do you coordinate across these?
    • Multi-lingual challenges. The technology issues aren’t the big hurdle, but multi-lingual translates to different localized requirements, investment sources, etc.
    • Some success in finding international champions, who establish their own community sites in their own language for their needs. Content is not aligned in this model.
    • Projects have their own community pages, and these can be done in different languages – but we don’t try to establish search or discovery across sites of different languages. So locally owned is easier, still challenging to do on an enterprise level.
    • Ideally, some community members should be available to the same community interest across languages. How would we do this?
    • One firm is seeding new communities with a snapshot of like communities from the English site.
    • It may not be a desirable goal to have one overall community. We may be better served recognizing the different languages, cultures, approaches to similar problems; and not trying to homogenize these by making it one corporate site just translated into different languages.
      • This may be true for support communities, but if you’re talking about distributed coding, then separate repositories do not make sense. The code will not change.
    • SSO and shared profiles remain critical, there is no way to move identity across these sites.
    • Who monitors to make sure the questions on the international sites get answered? Local management ensures this.
    • Issues may be global, but solutions may be local. Integrating across these communities remains highly manual. The primary focus is not integration, but helping provide global solutions through local communities. One firm uses HITL to do “thread management” instead of “community management.” When they find a promising thread in one community, they make it available to others.
    • Adoption curves for various community tools appears to vary across nations. But there is still a flow, at least within a certain U.S. firm, with the main U.S. site – where the critical mass exists.
  • Placeless vs place. Embedding community functionality into the main website, “placeless” interactions. When should these be brought into the overall community framework? Marketing, management and technical issues.
  • Do we separate communities of practice apart from use of collaborative technologies?
    • One division is to break it into externally facing and internally facing
    • Another example is project focused vs practitioner support for internal groups. Governed differently, but using same technical infrastructure
  • Brings up overarching question of governance and support.
  • Communities should grow up organically, but corporations still to plan top-down taxonomy for communities.
    • Changing communities are easier than “killing” them. An existing community that has fallen quiet can be re-purposed, or subsumed into another community.
    • When change is needed, or refreshment, bring in new leadership.
    • How to kill? Do you first make it read-only, then archive, then finally delete?
    • Perhaps you can maintain a large community model, and recognize the lifecycle of
  • How to govern communities in an era where records management is becoming more of a risk to firms? Related to this: policies to protect health-related information.
  • There is a culture clash between the old model that emphasized secure exchange of information and the openness of the culture associated with social media. Irony is the rules that are casting a chill over these for a are designed to enable openness of process and content – to improve visibility.
  • Some experience with firms who have stifled community interaction, etc., in fears of being open to risk.
  • Firms who have a set governance structure, have done better. Those who have set up communities without thinking through the governance and strategy have faltered and experienced backlash.
  • Even within large firm, or same organization, the governance varies based on the targeted audience. And that is intentional, necessary
    • One approach is to establish and maintain a cross-functional governing body or steering group. Allows for many governance models, but enforces overall corporate strategy
    • Enforces good practices as well
    • But this top-down decision model can also be seen as a problem. Better to set the environment so that a community can evolve.
  • One firm has evolved from this old model of a proprietary view of information to a more open-source approach allowing for emergent communities
  • Another firm sets up rules of the road, but allows for externally hosted solutions, and lets the community decide the platform – these are all customer facing communities. Problem here is that while the community has maximum flexibility in establishing its experience, it appears to be more expensive than a single solution that also would permit SSO, and identities across communities.
  • What do you do in a firm that is engaging in M&A? How do you “integrate” or “assimilate” the existing communities in these firms?
  • How to get to SSO, integrated search, etc.? Need to maintain this throughout the acquisition cycle?
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