Friday, March 28, 2008

The Community Is the Platform - Part 2

In the last post, I talked about the importance of focusing on communities as the context for collaboration and knowledge sharing. How do you accelerate community building in your organization? Here are some ideas:
  1. Community Portal - Create a convenient, helpful central page of information that helps others discover, explore and engage your community. Include elements like:
    • Identification Info - meaningful description of community context and purpose, links to core community artifacts.
    • Communications - engaging news about community activity and contributions.
    • People - highlight who is involved in your community.
    • Exploration Tools - intuitive links, search and other navigation to help visitors find valuable content.
    • Self Help and Interaction - FAQs, Q&A, and discussion forums to help the community find answers and kickstart collaborative contribution.
    • Orientation - online training and help to remove barriers for new visitors, paving their transition to community contributors.
  2. Knowledge Base - create a highly accessible, interconnected repository of knowledge. It needs to accommodate both formal and emerging information. Leverage collaborative technologies to speed up the collection of emerging content.
  3. Social Info - make human expertise and social relationships highly visible. Emphasize social information on all community artifacts and communications.
  4. Facilitation - ensure success through upfront investment in knowledge professionals to:
    • Creatively help others "bump into" your community through deploying a wide variety of promotional techniques, particularly directed at unfamiliar audiences.
    • Maximize the impact of the community portal.
    • Design and automate metrics to gauge community health.
    • Actively remove barriers to collaboration.
    • Stimulate the knowledge lifecycle by helping others transform implicit knowledge through the steps of communications capture, artifact incubation, and collaborative content improvement, creating a continuous stream of reusable and valuable explicit knowledge.
What Are You Waiting For?

The good news is that many organizations already have tools and infrastructure that support the above suggestions. Where there are gaps, excellent open source and low cost solutions are available. By matching these technical capabilities with effective community development skill sets, a new level of collaboration and knowledge sharing is just around the corner.

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