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During the course of her five years with Jive Professional Services, Carrie Gilbert has guided dozens of Jive customers through the process of defining and implementing their community strategies, drawing on her extensive professional and academic background in interaction design, technical communication, and usability. In this piece, Carrie shares her insight on how and when to make a splash with your rollout strategy. Carrie also invites you to drop by and say hello to her and her team at the New Customer Experience booth at JiveWorld 12!




Summer may be drawing to a close, but that doesn't mean you can't sneak in one more trip to the pool before fall officially takes hold. You are faced with two options as you stand on the edge of the pool: gingerly dip your toes in as you adjust to the cool water, or jump right in with a big splash. So too are your options when rolling out your new Jive community: ease in one department at a time, or go for the company-wide cannonball. Which one makes the most sense for your organization? The answer is typically based on the types of activities you plan to facilitate with your Jive implementation and who those activities impact the most. We'll be exploring the company-wide approach in today's post, and then looking more closely at the departmental rollout next time.


The Organization-Wide Rollout


In many cases, this approach can just as aptly be called the company-wide rollout, but in particularly large organizations, it may sometimes take the shape of a division- or BU-wide rollout. This is a particularly effective rollout strategy for launching what might be called "horizontal" usage models—any situation where the target audience of the activities you're looking to support are effectively the entire organization.


Examples of horizontal usage models include:


  • Informing all employees of a change in their benefits, soliciting questions and comments, and providing ongoing updates to plan information
  • Sharing Marketing templates, guidelines, and general updates with all customer-facing employees
  • Building momentum in preparation of large company events (such as All Hands or Annual Kickoffs), staying informed during the event, and continuing the dialog afterward
  • Connecting with like-minded individuals across the organization via relevant communities of practice (frequently related to a technology or discipline)

Benefits of Making a Big Splash

"All-in" campaigns can be more effective than a more gradual approach since they generally lend a certain heft or official-ness to the message being communicated—especially when they are scaffolded with messages from leadership. This can make it easier to show employees this is something they should pay attention to (not just more organizational "noise"). In some organizations, it's also easier to coordinate and obtain budget for one large campaign than for several smaller ones across individual units. Additionally, a company-wide rollout can often piggyback onto other programs or tie into value or mission statements. This can provide a clear context for the community's positioning and help ensure the broader audience is listening. And, since you are likely not the first one to launch something to your entire organization, you can take advantage of existing precedents of what works (and doesn't work!) for communicating out a new platform or program to your workforce, which can inform your approach and prevent missteps. Finally, when implemented effectively, there is an unquestionable momentum that results from a widespread rollout campaign that can be quite powerful.


Things to Consider Before Sitting in the Splash Zone

While all the benefits can make a company-wide rollout very attractive, there are a few caveats around this approach as well. You typically have one shot at communicating something out to the entire organization. So, you need to make sure you nail it the first time out. (No pressure, right?) That means you need to be prepared to deliver value to every new community member out of the gate to avoid a scenario where they log in, see nothing relevant to them, and do not return. Also keep in mind that while this approach works well for horizontal usage models, those models frequently lend themselves to more "consumption-centric" engagement. So your expectations and success criteria should reflect that. For example, if you post a debugging tip in the Java Developers community, while it may provide a lot of value, it won't necessarily result in each recipient of that tip posting their own ideas.


Next time, we'll take a similar look at the departmental rollout and explore how to take the best of both approaches to define the right rollout strategy for your Jive community.


Have you conducted or are you planning to conduct a company-wide rollout of your Jive community? If so, share your story in the comments below!


Creative Commons image credit: "Pool Splash" by Joe Shlabotnik