Posts Tagged ‘Community building’

Bashing your head against a wall doesn’t always leave a bruise

3 March, 2010

I spent much of the second half of last year seemingly bashing my head against the proverbial brick wall. My objective was to get two online communities off the ground, I started from scratch, with nothing more than a general direction and a list of some people inside and outside of the business to talk to.  It frequently felt like I was on a fool’s errand, off on a wild goose chase, seeking a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow… ok enough of the clichés, it felt like it wasn’t going to work.

I spent an enormous amount of time and energy telling people about these communities, inviting them, showing them around and being super excited about them even though in most cases the members themselves didn’t seem to particularly care.

By the end of year I had started to make  progress, both were beginning to show the first signs of life…. then came Christmas and all of those signs vanished. Both were dead, or so I thought.

An amazing thing has happened in the last few weeks, momentum has returned, leaders have been identified and they are running with it!

The point that really brought it home to me, came up in a community leaders meeting this morning. Two of the members had been talking since the last meeting and decided that the community really needed a community charter!! My first instinct was to say “where the hell were you 6 months ago!!!!!?!” (see this post for what I was trying to do), but on reflection it occured to me that the community wasn’t ready for the structure of a charter, it needed time to grow  and to create it’s own identity, now after several months that is beginning to happen.

We’re only seeing the green shoots of life, but it is happening and that makes me smile. So to all of you community builders, persist, keep talking to your members and as long as you have laid the foundations you will see the rewards.

Oi You Lot! Collaborate Now!!

30 October, 2009

If only community building were so simple! I’ve spent the last couple of months working on the first two of what will hopefully be many online communities for our members. This has proven to be a bit of a  challenge for a few different reasons,  the one I want to talk about now is the concept of collaboration. For me and the other guys in the team at work, collaboration is what we do. We encounter a problem and we either turn around and say “hey waddaya reckon about this” or if we’re not in the same location, we jump onto the wiki or instant messenger (or lately google wave) and throw ideas around. If no one in the team is free we jump on twitter and say “hey tweeps waddaya reckon?”. Collaborating to get stuff done is intrinsic to what we do. Sure if we are on twitter we might not be quite as specific as we would be in the office but we still talk about what is going on with the twitterverse.

The thing is not everyone does it and (amazingly) not everyone wants to do it. For many people they don’t want to collaborate, they don’t want to participate they just want to be fed the info they need. I guess most people fall into this category but I admit to being caught off guard at how disinterested some people are at jumping on the collaboration bandwagon. So what the hell do you do about it? These are my thoughts… time will tell how effective they are.

Find people who ARE collaborators!

Well duh! I know this one is stating the bleeding obvious, but I reckon the best way to help people to learn how to be collaborators is to watch it happening around them. If the group we have at the moment is not loaded up with collaborative types then we should find some to help get the ball rolling.

Start with easy opportunities for collaboration

In one of the communities, my idea was that the community would collectively write a community charter. It didn’t happen. So I re-jigged the approach and organised a few phone hookups to discuss what they thought should go into the charter. During each session we also used a webinar to record notes, which helped to fuel the discussion. These sessions gave me with heaps of insight into the needs and wants of the community. I’ll take that away and turn it in to a draft of a charter, then ask the community to provide feedback. By adopting this approach the community members are commenting on something they have already contributed to which means it isn’t as scary, as hard or as time consuming as starting with a blank page.

Change the environment

This is kinda the same as the last point, if the members are not really jumping onto the online environment to collaborate, give them a chance to chat somewhere else. It could be like that example: a phone hook up, or even better if it is possible, organise an f2f meet up. Something as simple as catching up for a coffee can be enormously beneficial to encouraging collaboration.

Ok so that’s my thoughts. They are all pretty much following the conventional wisdom. So waddaya reckon?

 

Charting a course to community awesomeness!

27 August, 2009

I’m cheating on my blog posts again! But I wrote this for one of my recently kicked off online communities and thought it might be worth posting. What do you think? Am I on the right track? I will be very interested to see how the community members respond.

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I have been saying from the beginning of this project that one our key objectives for the community leadership group will be the development of a community charter. The charter will be vital to the community’s success. It is your (the community leaders) opportunity to agree on what you want this community to be. You will make this community into the thriving place that can create opportunities and provide support to yourself or other members. The thing is, this will only happen if you make it happen.

Some questions to think about:
• What is that you think this community stands for?
• Why is it here?
• When we promote it why would people want to join it?
• What can we bring to the community?
• What do you expect your fellow members to bring to the community?
• Most importantly what can you bring to the community?

Now you’ve have think about that let’s look at what this charter will actually look like. The great thing is that every community is unique so every charter will be unique, but I have a couple of thoughts to get us started. First I reckon we must keep it short; we don’t need anything that rambles on for pages and pages (like this post does!). I propose the following three sections.

Community Purpose

An example might be “to provide an environment for North Melbourne supporters to discus the horror of 2009 and how awesome 2010 will be”

The community will…

“Hear North supporters concerns about our list and provide constructive criticism for players that perhaps might seek new opportunities at another club next year”

“Help to generate opportunities for North supporters to car pool to games (and then donate the money to the club to set up a fund to lure Garry Ablett and Lance Franklin to Arden St)””

The community members will….

“Not be too harsh on players who have under performed”
“Will be supportive of other members and provide constructive advice”

Ok so clearly I have been a bit silly with my examples, but I hope you get the idea. Under each section we use bullet points to outline why the community exists, how the community will aim to support or provide value to its members and how the community’s members will provide value to the community.

So what is next?

There is a new tab at the top of the screen called Charter. It simply has the words “Community Purpose” on the page.

I would like as many of you as possible to click on edit on that page and add a bullet point describing what you believe the community’s purpose is.

Editing is anonymous so no one else will know what you have added. Please don’t remove anyone else’s points, just add to them. Don’t be afraid, all ideas are valid, the more ideas we have the better the result.

If you want to comment on this to tell me that the whole thing is a stupid idea, suggest another section of the charter or anything else feel free to comment under this post.

Next week we’ll work on the next section and keep refining over the coming weeks till the leadership group as a whole agree that the charter represents what we all believe this community is about.

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