Bijgewerkt op: 8 mrt.
Building company communities is fun, and developing the final product is great. But the best part is the online collaboration with the team during the projects. We learn so much from them.
First, it's important to tell that we work on our projects using our community as a project space. We do it because communities are a nice space for collaborations. So we are learning by doing. Building a company community creates innovation and transformation simultaneously. We learn to organise our hybrid processes, become agile by working on distance, and exchange what we learn in real-time. Therefore, you can consider online collaboration in the community as a good investment by itself! Some projects were independent communities, and others were communities hosted in ours. Localminds.nl and Mentilocali.it (focussed on the Italian market) These are the projects we learned from.
Join us is a Dutch foundation, they reduce loneliness among young people between the ages of 12 and 30 and decided to create a community for them. Therefore they asked us to help them with their strategy. They have a small core team working on the programs. They rely on the support of a wide group of professionals collaborating with local municipalities, and their 'clients' are individual persons.
Impact Nation is a joint venture with ABN AMRO, The Next Web and Impact Hub and Circle. They offer a 100 day program to help companies develop their sustainable goals. They asked us to create their community to understand if it could add value to their services and business proposition. They have a small core team composed of specialists from the three companies and deploy their program on specific predefined moments during the year. Their clients are companies and suppliers.
From their site: If you desire to develop transformation initiatives that can involve and satisfy clients, employees, shareholders, and the entire planet, Peoplerise is the right traveling companion for you. They asked us to help them in their digital transition and create a hybrid market strategy using a community as a starting point. They have a highly-skilled core team and work with international professionals. Their clients are mid and big-sized companies and multinationals.
Prysmian is a multinational company with more than 120 plants and 40.000 workers worldwide. They are leader in the cable systems industry. They asked us to organise a workshop to better understand digital transformation, and since then, we have worked in several communities to share knowledge, incentive collaboration, and develop digital skills for different departments. As a multinational, they serve different markets and many clients.
Before moving to the learnings, we want to make a small reflection on the three kinds of communities you can create. Company communities can be created for an internal purpose, connecting with the supply chain or connecting with clients. A combination is possible, of course. In some cases the community is used to enhance collaboration on distance, in others, the community is where companies discuss with their clients. For each sort, you need a different strategy.
The new office
Creating a company community and onboarding colleagues is comparable to asking them to move to a new office without leaving the old one. So the first thing to take care of is to let them truly understand what's in it for them. Then, of course, there is a collective advantage, but the personal prevails when people are invited to change their habits. So ask the members what their experiences are, talk about their difficulties, and ask what they like in using the community. Make these conversations public to make sure everybody can access them.
Who is who
Like in real life, try to individualise the influentials, the problem-solvers, and the decision-makers as soon as possible. You will need them all to help you engage the group. Spend particular effort in explaining what their personal and collective advantages are. Influentials help you in contaminating the rest of the group and gaining trust. Problem solvers will help you pick up the work in progress, and decision-makers will speed up things when the discussions seem not to lead to actions.
Be one or be none
We have then experienced that gathering several companies in a collaborative internal community is a bridge too far. All though there might be consensus from the stakeholders, it's very hard to create online processes that fulfill the needs of every single company. Considering that a community is not a mere communication channel but a representation of the organisation itself, you can imagine the challenges.
Let it go
Be brave enough to let things happen or not happen. We know it isn't easy, but a vivid discussion about sandwiches is more important than one reaction to a strategic question. Discussions generate discussions, and an active community is more attractive to people.
If there is already a group to onboard, do that as soon as possible. A group is such because they presumably are connected by a shared interest. Shared interests nurture communities and are a means to an end. In a company, there are several shared interests to take into consideration. For example, a project is a shared interest, learnings too.
Kill your darlings
Since Covid forced us to find solutions, many companies started using instant messengers as communication tools. They are very effective and popular but can lead to some problems. The conversations will spread over too many different channels, and people will get lost somewhere in cyberspace. After an excellent motivation talk, you should consider closing them. Of course, the team will hate this decision, but it may be one of the best you can take in the onboarding process.
It would be best to address the responsibility to manage the community to one or several people in the organisation. Being a community manager is not an easy task. Suppose there isn't know-how in the company, onboard a specialist in your community for a few months until others can learn. It might be that the community manager you are looking for already works in your company.
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