As many of you know, I'm the internal community for Jive's very own interactive intranet, Brewspace. My job is to design, implement, and operationalize strategic use cases for Brewspace, with a strong emphasis on enhancing employee communications and engagement. My day-to-day consists of tuning into and supporting our community, attending meetings to ensure business alignment, creating high-value content that teaches our community members or communicates a company-wide campaign/announcement, and pulling performance metrics and reports for executive summaries. To all my fellow internal community managers out there, this sounds familiar, right?
Then you're probably familiar with the following interaction with a certain type of community persona; the ones who are team managers, program owners, and department leaders. It starts off with a direct message, a 1:1 meeting request, or, god forbid, an email:
"Hey! How do I go about setting up a group? I want to create one for my team (or project, or whatever). And can you help me make it look good?"
*sigh* This is always a tough one. Because we all know that it's quite easy, almost too easy, to create a new place for team and project collaboration. It's certainly not hard to figure out, and once they do, they assume that launching a place is all about how it looks. In the beginning, not many people are considering beyond the look and feel... It's interesting how often I get the initial blank stares when they are asked about the audience, it's purpose, and how a place should be maintained and nurtured.
While I've offered 1:1 training's and consulting for anyone who owns large scale use cases and program, I also decided to create some self-help documentation and templates to help guide Jivers through the process of setting up a new place, and more importantly, setting their expectations regarding the ongoing commitment required once their places are created. Because after all, making it look good is only the icing on the cake.
I've decided to share this consulting process and these training assets with you, the Jive Community, in hopes that they might be relatable and valuable to your own interactive intranets.
Consultation vs Self-Help:
When helping community members self-centralize and create places for team collaboration, it’s important to understand when to step in and offer 1:1 assistance. There’s a fine line between doing everything yourself and expecting your community to help themselves. The former ensures governance and consistency, but can easily consume all of your time. The latter could easily turn your community into the wild wild west, full of places that are unmanaged, ineffective, or unused entirely.
For Brewspace, I opt towards consultation for any major use cases like company onboarding, strategic alignment initiatives, department portals, ideation for company wide cost savings innovation etc. In those use cases, I typically sit down with a program owner and ask:
- What is your goal?
- What 2-3 major activities, engagement can the user expect from this community?
- How much resource do you have to commit to an editorial calendar, content creation and the ongoing moderation?
- How frequent do you want to surface your community activities at the company wide level?
This first phase takes the longest because it forces people to think about the tactics of the program itself rather than thinking about how a place should look. Once I have answers to those, I'll recommend either to implement their program in an existing Place within the community, or create a new Place. I'll then create a wireframe, take a stab at the initial design, then request feedback until the stakeholders are happy. We'll then launch it and I'll create a data sheet for it for other Jivers to learn from for their initiatives. By investing 1:1 time in the marquee use cases and creating these data sheets, I can scale this training and support material to anyone else who is interested in creating their own place on Brewspace.
In reality, there’s no universal formula for knowing how much time to spend creating places yourself versus teaching your community to help themselves. Every community will be different. But in both 1:1 consulting and self-help, the key message that I keep reinforcing is: It's not only about launching a program but about the ongoing engagement.
The Result: Places with Purpose
To help provide you with a running start, I’ve shared all of the data sheets I’ve created for my own community members to help them create places with a purpose. You can use these as a starting point when creating places that support department communication and collaboration or simply guide people to see if this is something they are ready to sign up for.