Collaborative Advantage: How Organizations Win by Working Together by Elizabeth Lank
Collaboration across organizational boundaries is often critical but difficult to achieve. This book explores the structures, processes, roles, skills, tools and techniques that enable people in different places to achieve a successful joint outcome and build advantage through collaboration. Written by an experienced practitioner who has facilitated many collaborative efforts, it includes practical case studies to illustrate key points.
Q: What makes for a successful community of practice?
A: Three keys are:
- A compelling topic — The members and potential members must be passionate about the subject for collaboration, and it must be relevant to their work.
- A critical mass of members — You usually need at least 50 members, with 100 being a better target.
- A committed leader — The community leader should know the subject, have energy for stimulating collaboration, have sufficient time to devote to leadership, and then regularly spend time increasing membership, lining up speakers, hosting calls and meetings, asking and answering questions, and posting information which is useful to the members.
Question for the readers of this blog:
On the Internet, there are several examples of wildly successful social networking programs that encourage people to sign up, fill in personal details in their profiles, and invite others to join their networks. 85% or more of college students use Facebook, lots of musicians use MySpace, and nearly 5 million business users have signed up for LinkedIn.
Is there a potential for a similar “killer application” within organizations — one which would result in a large percentage of employees voluntarily signing up, filling in details about themselves, and linking to other employees? Possibilities include nicely-formatted personal home pages, easy-to-use personal blogs, and other internal social networking tools.