This post specifically addresses the path that companies can take in order to create internal online communities. I’m listing the points that apply to 91springboard.
Geographically dispersed employees can set up informal “watercooler” communities to help them feel more connected to one another and to the organization.
There is a natural pairing between online communities and the role of the business communicator. Business communicators know how to effect change management strategies, create awareness, and develop successful governance, educational and communication policies.
Many online communities fail, in spite of large investments, usually due to the human element—they require attitudinal, behavioral and cultural changes among users. Those that succeed help solve concrete business problems and use strategies to secure the support of both senior management and employees.
Evaluate your organization’s capacity for online collaboration.
Evaluating an organization’s readiness by asking how employees handle their offline collaboration. Do they look to one another for conversation and solutions, or is the organization a hierarchical and bureaucratic kind of environment where everyone has a fixed job? If the culture does not support collaboration in the first place, then creating an online community will not change that.
This one takes into account the point @aseem made about involving EXCO in the community early on
Secure top-down executive support.
Company leadership must visibly back the effort and provide enough people, money and time to get the community off the ground. Our panel of community managers advised gaining executive level support by framing the project as a solution to a specific business problem. Those spearheading the effort need to demonstrate in a tangible way why the community is needed and the benefit it will bring to the company.
The panel identified executive “FUD” (fear, uncertainty and doubt) as a major barrier. Managers often worry about employees using such platforms to waste time, post inappropriate or confidential content, or give bad advice. Panellists recommended addressing these fears directly and involving key stakeholders (IT, HR, legal, corporate security) in the community’s early planning and the development of policies and procedures.
At this point, I think that the employees who will do well on the forum will be further motivated by getting greater visibility among the organization. More patterns will emerge once we launch it and see real engagement.
Secure employee support.
In the long run, the most compelling reasons for employee participation in the community need to be personal. The community should provide opportunities for recognition, visibility, connecting with others, learning and sharing knowledge. Powerful enticements might include the chance to talk one-on-one with executives and innovators within the company, or access to curated, high quality content not available elsewhere. “Make it about them,” advised one community manager from an international organization of speech therapists. “Provide content or access or other benefits they could not otherwise get.”
“Go low, slow and in the flow,” Murray says. “Start small. Offer something that is valuable, addresses a real user pain point and makes life easier. Focus on work that people are already doing. Don’t ask them to do anything extra.”
I think once the moderators are added here, the initial few days of everyone getting familiar and posting topics is more or less a pilot program.
Run a pilot program.
A pilot program offers an opportunity to engage senior-level leaders in the planning process and to address their concerns. Such programs give everyone the opportunity to see the benefits and potential of the new channel and how it will work in their environment.
Develop guidelines and governance to fit the organization.
Research respondents described a wide variety of governance models. The Ubuntu open source community, according to Bacon, follows a “benign dictatorship” model, with explicit roles, a chain of command and processes that offer governance while providing a structure for member input.
there need to be explicit community guidelines that spell out mores and acceptable behaviour, as well as company policies regarding originality of content, quality and intellectual property. Anonymous posts should never be allowed.