Saturday, May 31, 2008

Measuring Collaboration

Your company does not need to be very large before it starts grappling with two significant problems that plague the knowledge economy:
  1. How to maintain and improve effective teamwork between people that are often separated by geography or time.
  2. How to share timely and useful information across the organization, reusing existing knowledge and channeling emerging experience.
Photo Credit: PMThink! Blog
Technology Helps

Fortunately, Web 2.0 technologies and emerging communication practices are helping slow the growth of these corporate tumors. However, it takes more than just technology to reverse the trends. Effective design, initial content seeding and proactive facilitation are critical factors for re-firing in the innovation engine.

Is it working? There's only one way to know... metrics.

Measuring for Success

A successful community generally has two hallmarks: a high level of interaction between the participants, and a growing body of valuable content. That's a wonderful end-state, but how do we assess the current state of collaboration? Here are some criteria critical to success:
  • Discovery - How easy is it for others to see what your community is currently doing or intends to do?
  • Participation - How easy is it for others to contribute to the community?
  • Promotion - How do you help others connect with your community and stay informed?
  • Production - How valuable are the contributions of the community?
Of course, you can replace "communities" with "team" if it fits better with your model. Here are some questions you might use to evaluate these aspects further:

Discovery

  1. Do you have a central community info portal?
  2. Is your portal web accessible?
  3. Can your portal be viewed by anyone?
  4. Is the purpose and identity of the community clearly stated?
  5. Is the current activity of the community visible or obvious?
  6. Is it clear who is facilitating the community?
  7. Is it clear who is involved in the community?
  8. Is it easy to explore the content of the community?
  9. Is significant content emphasized and accessible?
Participation
  1. Is it obvious how someone would start a discussion with the community?
  2. Is it obvious how someone would join a discussion in the community?
  3. Is it obvious how someone would stay informed on news and activity?
  4. Is it clear on how to gain the basic knowledge that would help someone engage?
  5. Is the tone and language welcoming to potential participants?
  6. Do you monitor community interaction levels and trends?
Promotion
  1. Is your community linked to other important areas visited by potential participants?
  2. Do you have a process to identify and follow up with visitors to your community?
  3. Do you have a published communication channel for your community?
  4. Do you monitor and manage subscriptions to your communication channel?
Production
  1. Is it clear how the community provides value in the larger context?
  2. Do you monitor content usage?
  3. Is there an obvious way to submit feedback and suggestions?
  4. Do you have a process for canvassing or interviewing your stakeholders?
  5. Do you have a process for implementing continuous improvement?
Jump the Hurdle

Armed with the right questions, make it a priority to put in place measurements that demonstrate how you can benefit from your efforts to empower collaboration.

2 comments:

Yves Caseau said...

I just discovered your blog ... I could not agree more with the theme of your post. I started working (& blogging in French) a few years ago, but just opened an English mirror site:
http://collaborationsociometry.blogspot.com/2008/05/sociometry-of-collabotative-desktop-use.html
I am especially looking for references about measuring/monitoring content usage.
Cheers,

-- Yves

HTL said...

Thanks Yves, your work looks very interesting. When considering metrics, there is always the danger of measuring volume instead of value. By having an effective view of the community and their goals or needs, I have found it helpful to envision valuable end-states and design metrics that stimulate synergistic behavior. "What you measure is what you get"

Here's a few additional ideas with respect to measuring content usage:
1. Make your social network explicit. Not all nodes are equal. Focus on stakeholders by value priority.
2. Capture metrics on who is accessing content, make sure your system let's you see both what content is being accessed and who is accessing them.
3. Pay attention to trends. I've found it very insightful to ask questions on why some content is becoming popular or conversely losing popularity.
4. Consider ratings. This is more relevant to social network mapping than to content usage because of the 90-9-1 rule. I'll be blogging more about this dynamic later this week.

-- Howard