E-Collaboration; Steve Denning on CoPs; Creating a Knowledge-Sharing Environment
Based on facilitation and research of 100+ business process-focused organizational development projects, this text examines the relationship between e-collaboration technology use, business process improvement success, and knowledge sharing effectiveness.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1 — Introduction
- Chapter 2 — Some History
- Chapter 3 — What is a Business Process?
- Chapter 4 — Data, Information and Knowledge
- Chapter 5 — Business Process Improvement and Knowledge Sharing
- Chapter 6 — The Effects of E-Collaboration Technologies on Groups
- Chapter 7 — The E-Collaboration Paradox
- Chapter 8 — Successful Business Process Improvement Through E-Collaboration
- Chapter 9 — Some Realistic Recommendations for Organizations
- Chapter 10 — Using MetaProi to Improve Business Processes
- Chapter 11 — A Close Look at Twelve Business Process Improvement Groups
Steve Denning has been very active over recent weeks on various listservs, discussing different aspects of teams and communities and specifically how narrative techniques can help dealing with them in ways that command-and-control approaches will never be able to accomplish.
Q: I would like to know your insights on building people-to-people networks for increasing knowledge sharing and participation: how to go about it, using discussion forums, and other ways to create a knowledge-sharing environment.
A: There are many ways to go about this. Here are some that you can use to create, build, and sustain communities.
The first thing to do is to decide what topic you wish to address in a community. Pick a compelling topic that will be of interest to many people in your organization. The potential members must be passionate about the subject for collaboration, and it must be relevant to their work.
You need a committed leader for the community. Volunteer to be the community leader, or identify someone else with the right attributes. 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.
If communities already exist in your organization, then get the answers to these questions:
- Is your topic already covered as part of another community? If so, offer to help the leader of that community.
- Is there an existing community that is focused on a related topic? If so, approach its leader about expanding it to include your topic.
- Is there an old community that is inactive but could be resurrected or migrated to form the new community? If so, ask if you can take over the leadership, or harvest the membership list to start the new one.
The community will need a critical mass of members. You usually need at least 50 members, with 100 being a better target. Try to take advantage of existing networks:
- Is there an existing team that could be the core of a new community? For example, is there a team whose mission aligns with the topic for the new community? If so, these can be the initial members.
- Is there an existing distribution list of people interested in the topic? If so, use that list to invite people to join your community.
- You can use Social Network Analysis to identify people who are linked but who may not be part of a formal community. Then invite them to join your community.
Once your community is established, publicize its existence to help recruit new members:
- Write and submit articles to existing newsletters that reach your target audience.
- Use existing networks to inform possible members about your community.
- Send a one-time broadcast message to the entire population containing your target audience.
- Request that links to your community be added on all relevant web sites.
- Offer an incentive to join, e.g., a member will be chosen at random or the 100th member will receive an iPod or equivalent gift.
Create one or more tools for the community to use:
- Threaded discussion forum
- Collaborative team space
- Web site or portal
- Blog or newsletter
Keep the community active:
- Hold a regular conference call with a scheduled speaker.
- Hold periodic events such as face-to-face meetings and training sessions.
- Post at least once a week to your forum. Include a summary of a community event, a useful link, or a thought-provoking topic to stimulate discussion.
- Look for relevant discussions that are taking place in email exchanges, public distribution lists, or outside of your organization. Then redirect those discussions to your forum, copy or link to the key points, or summarize the highlights.
- Regularly suggest to those with questions or interest in your topic that they join your community and use its tools.