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Ever since JiveWorld, I've been looking forward to the Power of Connection event tour, which officially kicked off in New York City this week.  What an apropos way to get things going, I thought, as the topic of connection, inspiration and collaboration never fails to be relevant.  I had the pleasure of helping our team put on the event and got to sit in on a few sessions too, seeing what the magic was all about.  Here's a little personal recap to give you a glimpse of what went on, or to encourage you to check out a future event (and there's many of those happening through the rest of the year). 

IMG_7037.JPGLucky to enjoy some good weather karma with a crisp, sunny NYC day, the event, held at the Westin Grand Central started with some meet and greets.  Welcoming old friends and partners as well as meeting lots of new folks, it was exciting to see all the great companies represented such as the Chubb/ACE Group, CA Technologies, PR Newswire, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, New York Life Insurance, Vineyard Vines and lots of others.  The positive energy in the room was infectious and it was clear folks were there to learn!

IMG_7041.JPGJive's CEO, Elisa Steele headlined the event with an awesome presentation that broke down exactly what the Power of Connection means to us today, and as it relates to the technologies we use each day. She of course explained how Jive was central to that as a hub of connection, collaboration and a key enabler to being more human and engaged in your place of work.  She teed up the other speakers for the day and really got everyone jazzed about the knowledge they'd be taking back with them.


The day continued with other excellent sessions and presentations from not only our own experts, but also our fantastic partners and customers such as Tim Wike, Principal, Shaper Solutions; howardscohen, VP of Social Web & Knowledge, Chubb; and Sam Creek, Advisor, CA Technologies. 


I learned something in each session, such as how the Chubb team uses their Jive-powered community, The Village to deliver strong unified work across the organization. It was also interesting to learn how instrumental Jive was in helping Chubb achieve better integration and working relationships with their new colleagues as a result of their recent merger with ACE.  One thing in particular that stuck with me was when John Benfield, AVP of IT Process at Chubb said "Don't discount personal communities and discussions because they help establish bonds between employees." In this way, having fun at work and finding things you have in common with others actually helps your people feel more engaged and in turn helps to support your core business functions. I live and breathe this each day at Jive!



The evening ended with a fun cocktail reception, where we really got to chatting and exchanging more ideas and stories.  We raffled off an Amazon Echo which was a big hit - congrats Teri Wayne


Overall lots of good vibes and connections were established and I especially loved seeing how the talented folks at these different companies have adapted Jive to suit their individual needs. It was nice to see the power of Jive through their eyes.

For those of your interested in learning more and attending a future Power of Connection event, the next one will take place on June 8th in Chicago. You can register here.

We all know that one of the key factors to success for an internal community is having active and engaged executives on the community. So it's no surprise there have been plenty of community conversations on how to get executives involved. In fact, there was an entire JiveWorld16 session dedicated to this topic, chock full of case studies and best practices:


Getting Executives Engaged video recording and PDF slides:

(compliments of JiveWorld staff and presenter Daniel Martin Eckhart)

Getting Executives Engaged


Getting Executives Engaged attendee notes:

(compliments of Maren Beckman)

Getting Executives Engaged


An Easy, First Step For Your Executive:

ThinkstockPhotos-82172822.jpgAside from all the great best-practices shared in the resources listed above, one of the easiest use cases to describe to your executives in order to get them more involved is blogging. It helps them connect with employees, share important and valuable insights behind company strategies, and open a dialog for honest and transparent feedback. Yet, despite the head-nods we get from our execs, they can easily get overwhelmed with how to blog effectively for an internal employee community.


I recently sat down with one of Jive's own executives , Robert Block, for this very reason. He shared some first hand tips for blogging on an employee community, from one exec to another. If you have any executive champions that are shy about jumping in, be sure to share this helpful and credible resource with them to help them get started:

How Executives Can Write Impactful Internal Blog Posts


The Like in B2B

Posted by rob-oracle May 11, 2016

If you are like me (and even if you are not), the concept of Like is, well, very social.


My friends post a photo or video of something memorable in Facebook and elsewhere and I'll Like it. But diving a bit deeper in these shallow waters has me pausing about the value of Like. Like, why am I really clicking Like? In these situations I can think of these reasons:


  • I really like what is posted - that's what Like is for? Like Right?
  • Wrong! I see cases where Liking is part of being in that inner circle of that moment, that moment being the act of posting something that may be memorable, but may be to demonstrate how clever we are? how creative we are? how inclusive we are? how current we are?...and this list can go on pretty much forever keeping to the spirit of the thought.
  • Wrong! I see cases where Liking is part of being noticed or getting recognition.
  • Wrong! I see cases where Liking is part of the popularity contest for what is posted. We even see blatant self-promotion in this case by companies (Like our page to get a free it-will-break-in-1-day-trinket) or by people (Like my comment so that I will earn something even though I'm not clear on what that may be)
  • Wrong! I see cases where Liking is a part of a kind of social threat: Like my comment even if you hate it because if you don't I will never Like anything you post.


These are just some examples and you really don't have to like any of them (and don't let that stop you from Liking them), but I list them because I, like, Like them so that (and I'm getting to it) I can make my larger point.


So, let's turn the table just a little and ask: Why do we see Like in a B2B setting? I start a discussion or ask a question or create a new idea. As we write replies or comments, sure enough, the Like button makes itself known. It would be logical to click Like if you really like the reply or just ignore it if you do not. You could also Like the reply for any of the social reasons I already listed and more that you likely have. Some bold platforms even have the Not Like or Thumbs Down icon to click, so ignoring both options must mean you are neutral or don't care one way or the other.


In a community I participate in, the use of Like struck me like a bolt of lightning. Someone suggested an idea and others chimed in with their opinion, myself included. It was a pretty clear cut idea and on the surface one person voted it down because of wording (as opposed to voting it up and suggested that the wording should be changed - that's what I did). When I realized that the idea could lose steam (bolt of lightning on its way) I went back and looked at the replies. Without realizing immediately why I was doing it, I started Liking all the positive replies. As I started hovering my reply, the system, of course, would not let me Like my own and that's when the bolt of lightning struck its target:


I like Like in this scenario because I want to influence the next reader that this is a great idea and they should vote it up plus also Like all the other positive replies!

The only missing connection is how do we know this happened so that we could see the influence of the Like in our metrics. I don't have a good answer (yet), but I have stored this experience in the think-about-it-compartment and will come back to you when I think I am on to something. Of course, if you think about it and put comments with your ideas in this blog maybe I'll Like your reply to influence and promote more discussion around the topic .


PS: Just moments after writing this I went back to the idea and, sure enough, more positive replies were entered and the Likes on the other replies I initiated is catching on because others are now also doing it for the same reason!

Communities have come a long way since the days of the forum and online bulletin board:


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Once considered a simple, low-cost tactic to exchange information online, a community has evolved into a massive, multi-functional deployment that requires a whole new level of sophistication and resources to support it. 


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Today's community is core to a brand’s digital initiative and can significantly impact multiple business functions. Like many community managers, you will rejoice for the huge opportunities this shift in strategic importance adds to your profession. But with this massive responsibility comes massive expectations for the success of your community and a positive ROI. If you don’t do your homework up front and map out a comprehensive community strategy and a realistic resource plan, you will find yourself in front of your executive team later down the road explaining why you did not deliver what you promised.


In my whitepaper, Get Execs To Say Yes, I discuss how you can prevent this uncomfortable (and career limiting!) scenario. Based on a Jive-sponsored study, I provide you with:



  • Highlights from the Keys to Community Readiness and Growth study by Leader Networks and CMX.
  • Best practices for launching a successful community
  • Essential steps for building a business case that will get your execs to "yes"


Whether you are launching a brand new community or trying to grow your current one, it's time to get the resources your community deserves!


Here at Jive, we pride ourselves on using our own product internally. Customers are always curious, "How does Jive do that?!" Jivers use the 3 Pillars of Jive - People, Places and Content - and we get work done each and every day. While Jive is built for getting work done, and we most certainly do that, we also have a very open and engaging culture - here are just a few of the many ways Jivers use Jive internally.





We have locations and Jivers not just all over the US, but all over the world! They follow and keep up with their colleagues and find people they are looking for, and do it fast. Each Jiver has their own profile with information about their department, an Org Chart, where they sit, contact information and a bio.

While all of these features are fantastic in keeping us informed and productive, they're also what bridges the location gap between offices. Jivers are able to meet and connect with each other in all of our locations, building relationships with one another by collaborating and joining groups based on common interests. "Sit in our Palo Alto office and are an avid cook? So is one of our Jivers in Boulder!" It's Jive's chatting around the water cooler to the next level.

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 4.10.52 PM.png Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 4.12.25 PM.png



Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 4.13.26 PM.pngWe're constantly creating, discussing, uploading, gathering information and ultimately saving time and getting work done.  We are blogging about strategy, and updating our fellow Jivers about what's going on within the organization. We're sharing our wins with clever status updates. We're collaborating on documents to share with our customers, partners and fellow Jivers.

Jivers are also using our fabulous integrations and bring in content from all sorts of integrated systems.  One example is the way we use our products hand in hand with other systems to seamlessly manage accounts. From the pre-sales stage of the sales cycle all the way through close, support, and management - we pull in data from multiple systems and streams to create a universal hub for account information. Our teams  handle content created using Jive and access  content pulled from other systems like Salesforce, Jira, OpenAir, and others to manage our information in a single place. This makes it easy for new people to ramp up quickly, and for current Jivers to get a hold of what they need to fast.

Jive has a  beer-loving culture, and we use our product to create and collaborate on all sorts of content relating to beer! We take polls and have discussions to decide which kegs will be featured in each office, and we do it all in places about Jivers sharing the best of the brew and their location.


Each place within Jive is a living thing - we use formal areas to collaborate and post content around office locations or business units, and less formal groups for focused interest and discussions like beer, biking, backpacking, and new hires.

A place can be a Group with uploaded information, documents, and discussions or a Project where you can set a goal and track the progress! One way we use this internally is to give our new hires all the information they may need to get introduced and ramped in the company. Instead of overwhelming new Jivers with information from a fire hose, we have a group where they can find all of the information, content and answers to any questions a new hire might have. We're making sure they have all of their new hire paperwork complete and initial questions are answered with a new hire orientation, but that orientation is structured around Jive.  New Hires follow this Place to have access even after the orientation to access all the materials and answers they may need to have a super successful start.

Places aren't just for finding information to get your job done, they're also about connecting with fellow Jivers on a topic they're passionate outside of work.  Jive Hikes and Camps is an excellent place to post a blog and share stories about recent hikes you've taken, upload your photos from your awesome camping trip, start a discussion and ask for suggestions for the best places to take a weekend backpacking trip!

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 4.14.10 PM.pngScreen Shot 2014-03-28 at 4.14.58 PM.png

In short- we use Jive in many ways, and we are constantly iterating on the design and structure of how we use Jive. Matching the culture of the company, the product is used very openly, and information flows fairly freely across groups in the organization. This allows Jivers to work without barriers and innovate, collaborate, and continue to improve Jive, and how we serve our customers.

Have any questions? I'd love to answer them in the comments below!

ThinkstockPhotos-122551106.jpgYou wouldn't build a house without architecture and design in place.  But that’s what many companies do when they decide to build a branded online community.  They select a technology platform and quickly move to the implementation stage without crafting the business plan, outlining the goals and measures of the community – and most importantly, understanding their customers’ needs and how the community will serve those needs.


If you want your online community to succeed, you need to do a lot of “pre-shoveling” – spending a good amount of time creating a foundation and frame for the community in advance of construction.  Here are seven questions you need to answer before you break ground:



1.  Who Will The Community Serve?

Too often, organizations don’t think about the audience they’re serving in enough detail to construct an online community that is beneficial to its members.

Understanding who you aim to serve is crucial to driving the how, where, when, what and why of your community For example, a company may say that the online community is intended for its customers and partners.  But, for a software company that has a SaaS offering and an on-premise model, customer needs are very different based on line of business.  Plus the needs of the companies’ partners are completely different from those of its customers.  There are different segments within your base, and you need to consider who is the most important to serve.

Sharpen your focus on the specific audience you are trying to reach.  Maybe it is your customers, but it must be customers for a specific product line, geography, functional title, or business size.


Never underestimate the importance of nailing your audience.  Understanding who you aim to serve is crucial to driving the how, where, when, what and why of your community.


2.  What Is That Audience’s Pain Point?

Once you have identified your audience, you need to understand what makes them tick.  What challenges do they face?  Where do they currently turn for answers?

Remember: You’re not articulating why the audience is critical to your organization – focus on the issues they need to solve.

You don’t need to address all of their problems.  Start with one or two of the most pressing, evergreen issues. Many large online community success stories began by solving a single business problem , and evolved into more complex solutions that tackle a range of issues.


3.  How Can An Online Community Make The Pain Go Away?

Map your audience’s needs to your business needs.  Let’s say you’ve identified that your audience needs to tap the wisdom of their peers to inform their business decisions.  And you’ve determined that your business needs more insight into customer challenges and experiences.  Voilà!  You’ve found the intersection of needs that an online community can address.

Aligning your business needs with the needs of your audience is a crucial step in building the business case for your online community.  It does no good to identify a business need that is irrelevant to the community.  Nor does it make sense to identify a customer need that your company can’t address.  Look for the sweet spots.


4.  What Kind Of Community Should I Build?

The next step is choosing the community model.  There are three types of online communities:


  1. Information Dissemination communities are built to share and gather information, but not to interact and connect.  This type of community is frequently used in regulated industries like pharma and healthcare.  It’s the easiest to build and has the lowest returns.
  2. Shop Talk communities enable their members to transact around an issue or question.  For example, when my printer won’t work, I go to the Epson community and another user, printdude201, tells me how to fix it – and I never speak to him again.  The point of these communities is customer service and call center cost reduction.
  3. Professional Collaboration communities allow customers or partners to interact with each other and the company within a private, gated community.  Thomson Reuters, for example, built a private community to serve the needs of legal professionals from small law firms.  These communities provide a win-win: members gain valuable access to the wisdom of their peers, while the company can spot trends and accelerate the development of new products and services in response to customer needs.  Tough to build and maintain?  Sure.  But Professional Collaboration communities deliver the biggest bang for your buck.


5.  Do We Have The Community Building Characteristics We Need To Succeed?

Online communities are not for everyone.  Your customers – and your organization – need to exhibit specific characteristics that make them “community ready.”  As a litmus test, you need to answer, “yes” to these questions about your customers, their problems, and your company’s products or services:

  • Are your customers eager to share information and experiences with other customers?
  • Are they willing to participate in offline user groups or in-person customer summits?
  • Do your customers gain major value by learning from the experiences of other customers?
  • Do your company’s offerings solve important problems for your customers?
  • Do you need to supply continual product enhancements to meet customer needs?
  • Do company revenues depend on product or service upgrade decisions by customers?


6.  How Will We Generate Content?

Content is the fuel that drives online communities. At launch, a community must already be stocked with valuable content.  You’ll need a content plan and editorial calendar to keep it well stocked for at least six months.

At about the six-month mark, your users should be contributing content – and a minimum of 40% of your content should be coming from members.

But your content job will never be finished.  You’ll need an ongoing plan to elicit, edit, and showcase knowledge and member-generated content in tandem with all of your company-generated content.


7.  How Are We Going To Measure Success?

You must determine your critical success factors or KPIs before you launch.  Many “measurable” metrics (number of members, time on site, number of posts) are too far removed from the business strategy, and member needs to be meaningful.

To demonstrate the impact of community on your organization, align community measures with the organization’s business goals and objectives.  Think in terms of increased customer satisfaction measures, higher NPS scores, improved customer loyalty, more rapid customer service resolution, and greater input from customers on product and service enhancements.


The most valuable thing you can do for your community (and company) is to measure success in business terms.


What’s true of building a house is true of building a branded online community: start with a strong foundation.  Craft a solid business plan.  Understand your audience and their needs.  And, most importantly, connect the features of your community to those needs.  It won’t be easy but, by asking the right questions up front, you will be poised to build a community that can deliver enormous benefits – to your customers and your organization.


This post originally appeared on Brand Quarterly. 

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HealthSparq, a wholly owned and incubated healthcare start-up within Cambia Health Solutions, has created a wellness community using Jive. HealthSparq's mission is to help people make smarter healthcare choices.


HealthSparq believes the best forms of information and support come from peer to peer and expert to peer interactions. Yet, people don't always know how or where to find help and support when dealing with health and wellness issues, not to mention gaining access to this help and support can be hard if you’re not already in a doctor’s office or medical center.

Jive gives HealthSparq the ability to overcome these obstacles and humanize the healthcare experience by connecting people to each other and people to experts online. The value HealthSparq brings to their partner health plan members is a warm and open community that offers education, knowledge, support, and expert resources.


Healthcare is challenging, and leveraging Jive, HealthSparq is able to welcome people into these facets of their community with open arms.  For HealthSparq, it is about improving knowledge about healthcare (or what HealthSparq calls Healthcare IQ) and increasing brand satisfaction. Achieving these objectives relies on building an engaged, secure, and collaborative virtual environment encompassing patients, peers, and experts. Employers using the platform can help their employees to better understand and navigate healthcare, helping lower the number of calls to customer service or benefits advisors, and creating a hub for centralized information around any health care topics of interest to members and employees.


HealthSparq's online community is monitored by 7 moderators, 6 experts (such as nurse practitioners), a dedicated community manager, and a product owner. This structure allows questions and discussions to be answered in real time by subject matter experts. It is truly all about the people, engagement, and dedicated resources that provides true satisfaction: getting people involved in the community and collaborating on their healthcare issues. There is an emphasis of partnership with HealthSparq’s health plan partners, rather than a "sell it and forget it" mentality. These concepts lead to better health outcomes and enhanced collaboration throughout the care process.


Healthcare can be overwhelming. HealthSparq's health and wellness community connects people to their health outcomes. Using Jive, HealthSparq has built a network that helps people better understand their treatment options, enables people to get one on one support with certified experts, and enables true patient engagement with their peers. It gives people the advice that is specific their to lives. People become less overwhelmed with dozens of sources of information with one central place to improve their health. Their wellness community ties directly into the mission of humanizing healthcare. Soliciting engagement at every step connects people to the community while rewarding engagement with content. Jive gives Healthsparq the tools to make healthcare a human experience.



GoDaddy Makes 5000+ Employees Feel Like a Small Team


We all know there's no question that Jive can play an integral role when it comes to employee culture. Granted, we still go back and forth when we ask ourselves the quintessential, "chicken or the egg" question for community managers: What comes first, the culture or Jive? One of my favorite JiveWorld16 sessions honed in on this question.


And the answer? It depends on who you ask. More on that here: What Comes First? Culture or Jive? (Employee Engagement and Communications Track)


For GoDaddy, it seems they had already established a sense of closeness and transparency that was easy to maintain back in their start-up days. But they were rapidly growing, on a global scale, and they wanted to maintain that spirit of a small team. So how do you make a company of 5000+ employees feel like a small team?  In anticipation of this challenge, they turned to Jive.



A Mosh Pit of Ideas


It's often hard for us to describe what Jive is to our company's and the role it plays in our companies' culture. As such, I've heard some really creative metaphors for Jive but GoDaddy provides the most fun one I've heard in a while: "Jive is a mosh pit the of ideas in our organization."


So here's a challenge to my fellow community managers: what metaphor do you use when you describe your Jive community?

Let's see how we creative we can get and give GoDaddy a run for its money.

Today's Tip: Collaborating on a blog post


What You Need

  • Jive version: current cloud version


Step One:

Create a document in a place (group or space) where all collaborators (including the person who will be publishing the blog) have access to the content.


Step Two:

Create engaging content in the document.


Step Three:

Once the document has engaging content and is ready to be published as a blog, blog author should:

  • Go to the document
  • Select Actions
  • Select Create a Copy
  • Select Blog as the content type


Ready to go?

Publish it!


Do you have other suggestions on how to effectively collaborate on a blog post? Share in the comments below.





Other blogs in this series:

Jive Tips & Tricks: Simple & Purposeful Places

Brandy Robert, Senior Manager, Proactive Service Delivery, Oracle Corporation and Rob Shapiro, Senior Director, Customer Service Experience, Oracle Corporation, have teamed up to implement ideas in My Oracle Support Community. The Your Idea Counts! series of blogs (tagged with ideas, ideation and your idea counts was co-authored by them and will deep-dive in to topics such as why idea generation is important today; ways to capture ideas; user and business impact; changing company culture to rally around ideas; and, of course, measuring idea ROI's, KPI's and other intangibles.


Do you really have the foundation for why ideas count and The Thinking Model? If not, review Your Idea Counts: How to successfully implement ideas in a global customer community Do you really understand why an engagement model is so important? If not, review Your Idea Counts: The Importance of an Engagement Model Have you put together an implementation plan? This is really important, so if you did not, please review Your Ideas Count: Implementation Planning and write one. Finally, did you consider gamfication, real-world rewards, ways to capture ideas and an established process (internal documentation) to lay out definitions, roles and responsibilities? Review Your Idea Counts - Go Live to make sure you are as complete as possible before you go live.


Idea Valuation (a.k.a. Reporting or Analytics)


5th_blog_idea_valuation.pngFinally, it's time to talk about idea valuation (also known as reporting or analytics). We need to have concrete evidence to show the value of having ideas and that it is working to support the greater goals of the company and its customers. The problem, as with many other aspects of communities, is that it's not the easiest to prove. We won't even try to pretend we know all the answers on how to prove value, but there are a few things we can share and we hope you will heavily comment in this blog so we can, in turn, learn from you!


Proving that ideas are resonating, that they are important and that they are relevant is an uphill climb. It goes without question that an executive is going to ask the tough questions and we had better be prepared to tell a story. As anyone would think, there are basic metrics; metrics we might step up or elevate to be called Key Performance Indicators (KPI's); and, metrics that are modeled to demonstrate a Return On Investment (ROI's). Surveys, both external and internal should also be considered to either fill gaps of knowledge or acquire data not otherwise attainable. We assume this is already in place for you, so we are not going to address it here. If you don't have these, consider creating a customer success survey to specifically capture customer feedback.


Basic Metrics


We won't spend a lot of time here because the basic metrics should be obvious. At a minimum you should track ideas created, commented on, voted on, liked, shared and bookmarked. Used in conjunction with user data, geographical data, and any other meta data that has attributes which can be reported on will give you a fundamental dossier of fundamental activity. There is no attempt to minimize what this can offer you as these can and will tell you part of the story, it's just that they are not in the class of "why do I exist?" or "why should I invest?" categories.


Key Performance Indicators (KPI's)


Once we get past basic metrics, we have to grapple with the next level of complication to assess if a measurement we want to gauge falls in the category of really important -or- is so important that it will actually tell a part of the story that demonstrates a return on investment. On one level this will be subjective when considering your company's goals and objectives. On another level, we might argue that there is important and then there is important!


For us, which may or may not agree with your thinking, we like to group the following as KPI's:


  • Percentage of each stage. Oh, it's really tempting to demote this to a basic metric but consider some of the things this might tell you. For instance, would a high % of a stage called Not Considering represent a disconnect between your company and the user base? Or, would a continual high % of Active or In Progress indicate that your product or service has a quality problem? A wrong market target problem? A niche problem? Your stages are a transparent roadmap to your users, based on their feedback, and as such is a KPI.

  • Idea coverage. This is an interesting one and can be used in 2 ways. When you have many communities it can be a % of how many communities are using ideas against the actual number of communities you have. This can be especially important and relevant when you have 100's of communities (as we do). It's analogous to a community measurement we pay attention to, namely community coverage to gauge what part of 100% of product/service are represented by one or more communities. It may not always be appropriate or warranted to have ideas in a specified community, so the advice here is that the baseline has to be adjusted to not count those as a part of this measurement.

  • Percentage of committed ideas. If you take all the ideas that have a status which represents a firm commitment (for instance, Implemented + In Progress + Under Review) and divide this by the total ideas you will have a number that can mean you are successfully (or are not) engaging your customers in the future of your product or service. There is also a "read in between the lines" factor with this measurement because it could also represent whether or not having ideas on the product or service is resonating or attracting your customers to use it.

  • Age of active ideas. How long is an idea in an active stage such as Active, For Future Consideration and however else you define a stage that is open without commitment. To make the most sense out of this measurement, you would typically want to bucket each active stage with some period specificity such as < 1 month, < 3 months, < 1 year and > 1 year (just an example). In some respects, the age of an active idea is also an expectation you are setting with your customer which obviously could be good or bad relative to your ability to deliver, but also relative to the cadence of your releases. This is surely something not to ignore in either case of good or bad.

  • Selected views. We often pooh-pooh the concept of reporting views as anything more than basic, but consider some aspects of what views could be telling you. For instance, looking at delivered stages (Delivered + Partially Delivered), over a period of time this might show you an important trend and one that is influenced or impacted by your release cadence or your active participation with your customers --- a potential diamond in the rough.  Things to look for and consider would be cases where there is a high # of views, but maybe a low corresponding number of votes or comments.  This could indicate that the idea is not resonating with the users, though something triggered them to view it, so this could require further investigation or thought.


Return On Investment (ROI)


  • ER efficiency. In the beginning, this is arguably the most important ROI. What you need to measure this is a snapshot of your tracking system(s) as a baseline to measure. For instance, if customers log a ticket (we'll use this generic term to describe the technical support call) to express and document their idea that then transforms or is bridged to a tracking system where you keep "enhancement requests" (ERs) then you have the baseline measurement for 2 types of ER efficiency - one each for the ticket and enhancement request itself. Going forward, you will continually compare the creation of ideas to the # of tickets which if successful will show # ideas created going up and # of tickets (cases) and # enhancement requests going down. The goal with these trends will be to see # tickets reduced to 0 and the # enhancement requests going down to the number of enhancement requests you are actually committing to be done (i.e. no more noise, no more duplication, no more historical backlog!).

  • Ideas implemented. Here, you will measure what % of the ideas created were implemented, i.e. Ideas implemented % = (Delivered + Partially Implemented ideas) / total ideas. A successful ideas implementation will show a high percentage but what that high percentage is needs to be determined for your business relative to the product or service. For some, it could be 90% or more. For others it could be 75% and yet others it could be 50%. The point here is that you will need to put a stake in the ground (which, of course, could change as the business, products, services and customers change) on the advice of executive/senior management. This stake in the ground is also an inference for executive buy-in.

  • Releases implemented. While this could be a KPI, we position it here in ROI-land because initial implementation of ideas might need the support! Once you establish that your releases regularly incorporate ideas in a mainstream capacity, demoting this to a KPI might be ok. Obviously this measurement is: Release implemented % = (Delivered + Partially Implemented ideas) / total # release enhancements. This could also be called or seen as time to market.

  • Increased # users because of ideas or since ideas were implemented. This might need some fancy footwork or a survey. Inspect the user growth side-by-side with idea participation (creates, votes, comments, likes, etc). Your platform will need to be able to track by user and participation. Assuming you can get that, does the growth per user represent the increase in idea participation? It's a tricky correlation and you may be better off having a survey asking about coming to your community because of the ideas implemented there. If you can prove it on the platform or with a survey, you definitely want this in your bag of ROI tricks.

  • License or subscription renewals. Optimistically you will show growth of license or subscription renewals, but there is also cancellations to consider as well. The thought here is to measure this as a % of ideas, although which part of ideas will be up to you. We can see looking at this based on created, active, delivered and all three of these as viable.





We hope that this list of KPIs and ROIs will get you thinking about ways to have more insight into the idea exchange and its success. The list is not exhaustive and will probably evolve over time as we become more understanding of the model, the process, and the customer response.  Above all, we hope that these measures will give some insight into the community engagement.  It is not until the conversation begins do we get a clear and fruitful understanding into our product and service experience. Until then, we can only partially understand and know what the market demands and understand how the market is changing.  Something that would really help is a "sentiment engine" to harvest and translate what is happening in the idea discussion. With a tool such as this, you could probably measure some level of positive or negative sentiment from within the comments.  These have been developed for various social channels but do not appear to be mature enough to bet on the ranch. However, it does not mean they can't provide valuable insight into topics that are important to the customers and users.  They could even help to trigger further engagement by the product or service owner.


Whichever way you view measures of success, you won't have anything to measure if you don't get started! We hope that this blog series has given you some ideas of your own as to how you can align more closely with your customer base. We truly believe that starting conversations that appear to the collective audience will truly help to drive better product affinity and uptake. We hope you have learned from us, and in turn we would like to learn from you.  Our list is hardly comprehensive and this is where you come in. So, in being consistent with our approach in this blog series:


Final Action For You: Please join us to further develop how to measure ideas by adding your comments here! We are certain that we can all learn from each other and if enough comments are made we will be happy to collate everything in to one more blog in this series to reflect your feedback!


Your Idea Counts - Go Live

Posted by rob-oracle Feb 16, 2016

Brandy Robert, Senior Manager, Proactive Service Delivery, Oracle Corporation and Rob Shapiro, Senior Director, Customer Service Experience, Oracle Corporation, have teamed up to implement ideas in My Oracle Support Community. The Your Idea Counts! series of blogs (tagged with ideas,  and ideation and your idea counts) was co-authored by them and will deep-dive into topics such as why idea generation is important today; ways to capture ideas; user and business impact; changing company culture to rally around ideas; and, of course, measuring idea ROI's, KPI's and other intangibles.


Do you really have the foundation for why ideas count and The Thinking Model? If not, review Your Idea Counts: How to successfully implement ideas in a global customer community. Do you really understand why an engagement model is so important? If not, review Your Idea Counts: The Importance of an Engagement Model. Have you put together an implementation plan? This is really important, so if you did not, please review Your Ideas Count: Implementation Planning and write one.


Can you now say you are prepared and followed our suggestions and actions? Great! Time to Go Live!


Rewards & Recognition


What you do (or not do) to reward and recognize your users' involvement in ideas is entirely up to you. To that end, it is both an optional as well as an ongoing practice. We place it here because we recommend that you employ your formal gamification system in a stepped and evolving manner beginning with when you go live, so read on.


While the implementation of the idea exchange by itself should be enough to recognize those who put forward great ideas that are then embraced and delivered, there is something to be said for more formally laying out a concrete and systemic approach. Both rewarding and recognizing can be a key element to awareness, adoption, expectations and most importantly to participation. There are two dimensions to this which can be used together: gamification rewards and real-world rewards.



Here are some thoughts we have to reward and recognize users that can be done in the context of gamification software (i.e. automated):

  • Making a great comment(s) in helping to shape or deploy the idea
  • Replying to a comment to embellish the insightful portion of the discussion
  • Idea(s) created
  • Idea(s) voted on (note that this is different than "voting for" - here, the author of an idea has his/her idea voted on by others)
  • Idea delivered or partially delivered
  • Voting on an idea, although here we caution you to be careful. In our experience, we have seen users gaming this aspect and so we would discourage you from rewarding the user with badges/points every time he/she votes on an idea. Instead, we found that by raising the bar for when the user receives the reward mitigates any gaming while still recognizing that voting does have a part in the development and delivery of an idea. What we did was award a one-time badge with very low points (50) based on the user voting a high number of times (100). While you can follow what we have done, what is more important is for you to consider the same line of thinking and arrive at an award that makes sense for you. If this leaves you unsure, delay this reward until you have a better feel for how users see voting.
  • Note: Other rewards for liking, bookmarking, sharing links and the like are not good candidates because we view them as thoughtless and mechanical, thus have no intrinsic or contributory value. In fact, gaming a system just to secure any kind of reward or recognition is a likely outcome with these.


Real-World Rewards

In addition to what can be automated, going outside the box of gamification software, you could consider some elements that most users would consider to be a higher value than badges and points (and yet still use the gamification software to highlight and record the rewards and recognition) such as:

  • Invitation to speak at an event
  • Develop and/or lead a webcast or other social media engagement
  • Free admission to your next corporate or user group conference
  • A low valued physical gift such as a cap, pen or t-shirt with your company's logo or product (note that a high valued physical gift could be construed as compensation or against a government, country or corporate ethic policy)
  • Become a product champion - Invitation to be part of a larger interaction to discuss additional ideas or thoughts on the product roadmap...or maybe even to be part of a beta test of the improvement or part of an early adopter program.


We would advise you to consider starting slow and building rewards and recognition as your idea implementation grows and matures. There is no need to rush and being thoughtful about what and when you implement this part will likely make a difference. For instance, at the very beginning, consider only giving badges/points in the key areas. The obvious one is creating an idea and in our communities we made it a series from creating one (which is a repeating reward) all the way to 500 in rational steps (i.e. 10, 25, 50, 100, etc). The other ones are commenting on an idea, having *your* idea voted on (which is not the same as voting on an idea), an idea delivered or a partially implemented. Really, that's enough to get you going. Thereafter you can start adding as you feel it is warranted for more badges/points but also for arguably more important considerations such as leadership and sharing opportunities (invite to speak, lead a webinar, write a blog, etc) and recognition as your "idea champion".


As mentioned in the beginning, administering rewards and recognition is an ongoing and evolving aspect of your ideas implementation. You'll get a feel for what is right based on all kinds of feedback from users to developers to your own community management team. Making small changes can usually happen without a lot of fanfare. Making big (or bigger) changes should probably come with some kind of communication either before (if more feedback is needed) or at least at time of implementation so that users understand your changes and why you are making them.


Action for you: Write down all rewards and recognition you think are relevant to your new idea exchange. From that, build a road map of what you will do, if anything, at the time of go live, in 3 months, in 6 months, in 1 year and beyond.


Ways to capture ideas (both the art and science of using community)


When launching ideas in a community, we recommend starting with some existing ideas and seeding them into the community before go live. Sure, you can start the community fresh from scratch, but think about the missed opportunity of immediately engaging with the users.  What about that list of items that has been pushed to the side time and time again because the thought of going through the list and extracting out what is truly important or needs focus will take more time than you have. Are the ideas even still relevant? Do you tend to focus more on the recent and less on the sustained? Well, putting that list into the community as ideas can help you quickly determine what the users find interesting and important. Suddenly that list of 20 could become 5, and what a win to then accept 3 of the 5 for inclusion in the next iteration of the product or service. Examine the possibility of that instant gratification a user would feel knowing that their feedback and interests are part of the larger conversation shaping the way forward for your offerings!


Action for you: Identify existing and relevant ideas, no matter their source, to seed in your new idea exchange.


Detail of process


As we discussed in a previous installment, you want to keep the process simple. Already, you are embarking on a shift in mindset and way of doing things. It is imperative that you make it easy for your customers to create and present their ideas as well as the management of the ideas.  Moderation is what can help to simplify all aspects of idea creation and generation. When using a community, keep the presentation simple. We discourage against using templates as they can give you the opposite effect of the open interface you are working to achieve. Guidance can be given on things to consider capturing when presenting an idea, but refrain from putting the customer into a predefined box. Let their ideas come in as they may. Sometimes we struggle with expressing our ideas. If we throw the customer into a rigid environment where they are more concerned with release and version details, it can take their attention away from what they are trying to express. There is also another issue with predefined input in that you can inadvertently (or not) transform your community in to another incarnation of a ticketing system. We have overcome this challenge by creating a "free-form template" where we ask the user to copy, paste and fill in the details for the idea being created. See an example of what we use attached to this blog.


With moderation, you can begin to explore the idea, clarify the idea, and turn it into something that resonates with the larger community audience. Some ideas will be better than others. Good moderation is what can transform a simple idea into a more detailed understanding of the user's business challenges and what features or functionality can be enhanced to give them a more robust and universal product or service. Moderators should exist from various aspects of the business (support, product management, development, etc.) and be knowledgeable about the product or service being discussed. They don't need to understand the details of each piece, but should be able to discuss intelligently as it relates to the users business flow. Moderators can ask questions, as well as share their knowledge which can enlighten the user more about the product or service design and intentions. Moderators will build relationships with the users and begin to collectively examine and share insights around the product as they become intimately aware of the business challenges and asks of the larger customer base. In fact, moderators can help to identify those key ideas based on their interactions and use of voting or comment information. Remember that as moderation matures, a single idea can explode into multiple distinct ideas. It is a good practice to try and separate these ideas such that we do not get distracted from the original idea presented. There are a variety of ways that you can link ideas and collate them into something of meaning, while still letting the idea stand on its own merit.


Once moderation of the community is established, you need to incorporate some level of assessment with the ideas. While we understand that ideas will naturally rise and fall against voting and participation in discussions, one of the biggest measures of success is in the acknowledgement. Like we discussed in a previous installment, this does not mean every idea requires a response, but the users are certainly looking to see your participation and assessing the ideas is a big part of this. Keeping the users up-to-date on the status of the ideas helps to set expectations. If an idea is not part of any future planned direction of the product or service, be transparent and say it. Marking the idea with a status that is representative of this truth will let the customers know that 1) you have reviewed the ideas, 2) you have considered the idea, and 3) you don't currently have any plans to offer that feature in the near future. It's direct, but certainly more positive than leaving the customer waiting in the dark for months or even years wondering if anyone ever really took the time to look at the idea. It doesn't mean you are shutting the door on it forever (though maybe you are), but it says that today and now it is not a possibility. We've heard all kinds of responses for why we shouldn't tell a customer 'No', but we would say that there is a direct correlation to perceived lack of feature functionality and customer experience. When we leave the customer sitting in the proverbial black hole, you can bet their perception of the products and service is instantly tarnished.


Another thing to think about is how you will track the life cycle of the idea. We talked about keeping the status up-to-date, but you need to consider the process of how you will track the idea from a state of accepted (where you have agreed to take the idea and create some sort of solution for it) through the coding cycle and eventually through the release cycle. A lot of companies utilize internal tracking systems to manage their coding and release cycles, so there is a portion of time where the idea is not as clearly visible to the customer from an update perspective. This is where frequent interaction between the moderator and internal systems can be useful. We won't pretend to have the best solution for this process, but we will stress the importance of keeping the user up-to-date. Something as simple as an update sharing the solution for the idea, or some level of expectation as to when the customer can expect to see the solution can be helpful. Even if it will take a year, some loose commitment allows them to move forward and focus on the great aspects of the current features and functionality.


Once the idea has a solution, and the solution is offered as a feature, it's time to let the user know. Make sure to update the idea status with some indication of delivery and share with the customer where and how they can acquire this new solution. In cases where you may have taken multiple ideas to come up with the solution, it is easy in a community environment to link them together. This let's the users see the background to the solution and how all of the ideas and discussions played into the process of getting this idea into something concrete. It also tells other users that you care, you listen, and you are out there to make the user experience the best that it can be!


Action for you: Document a process you want to employ to serve as internal documentation. Include definitions, roles, responsibilities and accountability. From this, you could also consider writing a more brief (and less revealing) document for customer consumption about how ideas will work in your community. You will find both to be quite indispensable over time.


Here is something for you to remember our key takeaways:

Going Live With Ideas.png

SOCM2016 Draft Cover Shadow.pngWhen The Community Roundtable launched in 2009, the idea of measuring the markers of community success was unheard of; community management was considered an art that couldn't be taught - or measured.


Seven years later, many platforms have developed sophisticated analytics capabilities for their communities, giving community managers dashboards and annual reports with which they can measure and benchmark the activity and output of their communities. Jive has invested a lot of effort to providing dashboards and other insights that make it more possible than ever for you to measure the value and ROI of your community.


So why do you need to spend 25 minutes taking the State of Community Management survey?


Because platform-driven data is powerful but it only tells you one important part of the story - the output. It doesn't tell you much about how you invest your resources to get that output - your community management approach.


For the last six years, we have been tracking the management behaviors that make for successful communities. How critical is strategy? Does executive engagement really matter - and from whom? How do content and programs fit together to drive engagement? Does the community management work you do outside the platform translate to community success? How do policies and governance affect the community? Do strong value statements derive strong engagement? What are the most effective times to be higher-touch with your members?


The list goes on and on. And the better the data and benchmarking you can get out of your platform, the more powerful this other information becomes - the data that is the lifeblood of the State of Community Management survey.


We’re taking a closer look at the data from the Jive customer segment of our 2015 survey population for a custom benchmark report to be presented next month at JiveWorld 2016 - and come chat with us about the research at our booth.


3 Reasons to Participate in TheCR’s State of Community Management 2016 survey


  1. Improve your strategic perspective: Upon completing the survey, you will automatically receive your maturity score by the eight competencies in the Community Maturity Model which will help you understand your program's biggest strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Gain stakeholder confidence: by involving stakeholders in completing the survey, it will help you and them understand the scope of community management responsibilities and start having the right conversations about what to prioritize and invest in.
  3. Be credible: By contributing to the most widely read research about communities, you are contributing to the broader understanding of the community opportunity, which gives you more credibility and career opportunities.




So what are you waiting for?


Take the survey today!


We’ll even give you coffee or let you donate $5 to No Kid Hungry.

The clock is ticking and we are in the final countdown to the submission deadline for the JiveWorld16 Digital Transformation Awards. I’ve personally submitted to the awards twice in the past, and while I’ve been selected as a finalist, I’ve never won. But despite the slight sting of missing the limelight of the winner’s circle, I wouldn’t hesitate to participate again and again and again. Why? Because regardless of who’s selected as winners and losers, it’s always win/win.


Why should you submit?

Aside from the potential accolades you’d receive if you win (and there are plenty), there’s actually a much greater value proposition to participating, in my mind. This is your opportunity to look back and reflect on the social transformation you have personally ushered your business though. Having a documented story not only serves as a submission to this awards contest, it also becomes hard evidence, a case study, to share internally with your leadership team or share externally with peers and communities of practice. This asset will help articulate and prove the value of your community.


But sitting down and reflecting back on your life as a community manager can easily get overwhelming with details. So, here are some tips on how to simply pull together a compelling story:


Define your challenge statement (Think: Point A to Point B)

Look back at the past year and how you spent your time as a community manager. What initiatives did you focus on, and more importantly, why? Answering the latter question will help you develop your story into a “cause and effect,” “before and after,” or “Point A to Point B” solution. Some examples might include:

    1. We wanted to increase employee satisfaction and productivity
    2. We set out to increase engagement with our prospects and customers
    3. We needed to improve our customer support experience

How did you get from Point A to Point B?

Now that you’ve established your challenge statement, how did you go about solving it? Sure, key Jive product features might have played a large role in this (and be sure to embellish these if you want to catch the eye of the judges). But we all know, as community managers, that they are other keys to success. Things like navigating through political landmines, gaining consensus across key business units, uncovering user mindsets and personas, influencing user behaviors, and driving user engagement all play a critical role in successful communities. The better you can articulate this part, the more strategic experience you can prove.


Results can sometimes be the trickiest part. You’ve busted your hump for the last year so what do you have to show for it? Hopefully you have performance dashboards to look back on and compare quantitative results. But sometimes, the qualitative, anecdotal feedback gives us the most satisfaction. These results are the most important part of documenting your story, because it demonstrates the actual proof of why you love your job, and why your business should continue to invest in your programs in the future.

Some examples of results might include:

    1. Adoption of our new Jive instance was overwhelming with employees. Employee satisfaction results increased YoY.
    2. Our community blog was selected as one of the best industry blogs of the year. And traffic from our community to our gated assets increased xx%.
    3. Today, more than xx% of questions asked on our community have correct answers. And of those answers, more than half were provided by the community!


Walking through these three steps will not only make you a shoe in for the Jive Awards, but more importantly, it will provide you with a tangible story to feel proud of. And not to get too mushy, but that’s the bigger WIN in my mind. Share your story with your leadership team, share it with your peers, and share it out in the world for other people to admire and learn from.


  Click here for more information about the JiveWorld16 Digital Transformation Awards and instructions on how to submit. You’ll need to include some screenshots of your community too. But be quick about it! The deadline is February 5, 2016.

Brandy Robert, Senior Manager, Proactive Service Delivery, Oracle Corporation and Rob Shapiro, Senior Director, Customer Service Experience, Oracle Corporation, have teamed up to implement ideas in My Oracle Support Community. The Your Idea Counts! series of blogs (tagged with ideas, ideation and your idea counts was co-authored by them and will deep-dive in to topics such as why idea generation is important today; ways to capture ideas; user and business impact; changing company culture to rally around ideas; and, of course, measuring idea ROI's, KPI's and other intangibles. This blog is part 3 in the Series.


You now have a better foundation for why ideas count and The Thinking Model (or at least you can go back to your actions and our first blog Your Idea Counts: How to successfully implement ideas in a global customer community) in tandem with why an engagement model is so important (or, again, you can go back to your actions and our second blog Your Idea Counts: The Importance of an Engagement Model). So, now it's time to address governance. Before you ask - no, not rules or bureaucracy. Rather the preparation necessary to begin tactical steps to implementation:


So, how does one get started?  What does the path look like for a company looking to get closer to their user base in an effort to really hear and understand what their customers are saying? It’s time to start defining where focused attention is required.  Businesses need to understand how to best use their resourcing for the highest impact activities.  It’s time to let the customer base help you parse through all the things people would like (in the social context) to the things that affect their buying or their subscription/renewal decisions.



Getting Executive Buy-in


It is imperative to get executive buy-in from your development team or stakeholders for where the focused improvements will center.  Idea generation is all about improvements leading, in some cases, to innovation and better design.  Whether we are making a more universally acceptable product, improving on business flow, aligning to new standards and regulations, or designing the next new product, the development team is ultimately the manager and decision maker of these ideas in their implementation.  Without their buy-in and commitment, then all you are doing is collecting ideas.  What you want to do is let the ideas foster growth and change that will allow the company to compete in a market where winning means staying ahead of the next great idea.


But how do you get this buy-in?  Sell them the idea!


Pull out your Sales 101 material and get to work.  Your stakeholders have to know what's in it for them.  What is this new way of life going to generate for them in terms of growth and opportunity?  Think about this from a company perspective.  By offering an open forum for the capture and discussion of ideas, your company is better positioned to determine if...


    1. This fits into the strategy / road map for the product's future or maybe this is the start to a new offering
    2. This is something that could be offered today - often referred to as a 'Quick Win', that really does make the appearance that we care about our customer experience
    3. This allows for a more universal application of the product
    4. Would a change in this area increase customer success, making customers happy and more apt to purchase additional goods and services
    5. This change would allow for more revenue generation
    6. This change would give highest impact for lowest cost spent to develop
    7. This change, in a support environment, could deflect cases/tickets as well as reduce noise in a bug tracking/enhancement system


Of course, develop an elevator pitch!


Action for you: Test the waters or even get your ankles wet. Seek a quick conversation with an executive's direct report or an opportunity with the executive him/herself at a lunch, conference, dinner, etc. Put the elevator pitch to work! There is always an opportunity or one that can be manufactured.


Define the Plan


You will need to come up with a strategy for starting the conversations.  This is important in that you can start off slow with idea generation, focusing only on the new ideas or you can choose to jump-start the conversation by seeding previously presented ideas to the users and getting their insights. Maybe your company has some ideas about things they would like to do with the product, but due to resourcing have to put them on the back burner.  Well, what if through idea discussion, you could discover 1 or 2 ideas that users feel passionately about?  This can give you a focused understanding that would allow you to incorporate these ideas into the next design or code release, thus showing the users the seriousness by which you take their feedback.  This shows commitment to users and in cases where the addition or change is easily incorporated and becomes an easy win for the company.  In talking about strategy, you need to think about your goals and objectives for implementing such a plan.


The business goals for this project should focus around implementing a community solution to capture product or process specific ideas and feedback.  By embracing this type of community setting and openly allowing for the sharing of ideas, you begin the basic process of brainstorming which allows for aspects and ideas to scope the original idea into something worth consideration.  You also allow for the nuances to be brought forth during the discussion.  The open forum also tells a story about what the users consider about the topic.  Is it something that draws on people's emotions?  Is it collectively of interest?  Or, is this just a fleeting idea that can be parked in the idea bank? When ideas fall into the larger idea bank with little to few votes and no discussion, it does not deem them uninteresting or of no value.  It simply speaks to the here-and-now and what the customer base is looking for or considering as a solution of their own business requirements.  What is the goal?  What is it that you want to ascertain from this new type of engagement?


    • Create and track ideas
    • Allow customers to do the leg work by conversing, among themselves, the merits or demerits of a proposed idea
    • Allow customers to vote on ideas most beneficial to their business
    • Allow customers to collaborate and share each others ideas vetting out the applicability to the larger audience
    • Provide an open and flexible forum where the product or service owner can participate in the conversation
    • Provide a mechanism to solicit feedback
    • Change the paradigm for how we entertain ideas
    • Provide an easy to use tool and process for idea collection


So, essentially what we are proposing, exploring, and defining is an idea exchange in its simplest form.  An idea exchange is nothing more that the presentation, discussion, voting, and planning of new concepts and ideas in order to improve a particular process, flow or technology.  We must evolve the idea exchange into an integrated process flow by investigating and investing in available tooling.  The idea exchange is intended to facilitate this end-to-end flow in order to identify ideas, improvements, and alternatives all while offering transparency to future inclusions and product line roadmap discoveries.  Feedback is, and always will be, important from a company perspective.  It's a measure of how we are doing with currently positioned products, services and processes.  However, looking beyond the transactional and ensuring the customer conversation is represented proportionately across the customer base, we begin to understand at the deepest levels our products, services and processes.  Often times we view feedback as labor intensive and tend to push a lot of it into the depths of the abyss in order that maybe if we ignore it, maybe, just maybe, it will correct itself.  Is it that we lack transparency to educate the customers on what is being requested?  Are we translating the feedback and ideas today into our own understanding and applying our own defined methods for resolution?  We ask these questions to raise your attention to the need to begin thinking about things differently.


What are the risks to this consideration of adopting an idea exchange?  Probably the biggest risk to implementation is adoption.  Adoption by the customer, who is going to be very keen on seeing quick and immediate acknowledgement and response, is the greatest risk to this plan.  That's why having a well defined and well communicated plan is important to your project.  The second greatest risk is having the customer's attention and exchange, but not having the internal organization engaged.  The next sections will speak to these things that are so very important to the idea exchange's success.  You must identify the stakeholders (those who will be responsible for the interaction in the community), set expectations, ensure adequate and proper engagement, ensure the named parties are committed to the process, and lastly communicate!  By adopting a new plan and incorporating a community solution you can begin to make engagement, collaboration and your process less labor intensive.


Action for you: You guessed right - develop your plan.


Set Expectations (SLAs defined internal and external)


You need to set some level of expectation with your users.  Users need to understand that vetting ideas (creating, voting and discussing) does not warrant response or inclusion on every idea submitted.  Some people simply won’t be interested in some ideas and they will go ignored, and that is okay.  In fact, it can be a very positive thing as by vetting the ideas with the users, we are hopefully reducing the noise generated by large numbers for very small and tactical items that really don’t change the scope, the process or the reality of using the product. Activity within the idea discussion tells a story to the product owner, but it also tells the users a lot too! It shows the users how the products and services are being utilized by the larger customer base and becomes a great way to educate users about its use and expectations.  It also removes redundancy as the community allows for the larger customer base to search, filter or sort based on categories, topics or keywords.  Another benefit for a company with a large footprint is that often times a user may not be aware of all product offerings and how they tie into their specific footprint, and so many times products are viewed as 'feature lacking' while in fact the feature is already there but not documented in such a way that the user can make the leap to understand what is available.  Note that a community setting allows for more solution offerings than just an enhanced product.


Internally, you must set expectations as to what is reasonable in terms of the engagement. We can tell you now that customers interacting in a community setting are looking for one thing...acknowledgement!  Customers know that these ideas need time to mature, to draw in interest, to weigh on the minds of other customers or to even wait for a customer to catch up in the use of that product or service in order to truly understand if they are passionate about it.  Customers are not necessarily looking for immediate turnaround on these ideas. Rather, they are looking for acknowledgement by the product or service owner.  Something as simple as a clarifying question, a note to consider or a comment relating to the topic just tells the customer that we care and are aware of their presence.  This all aligns with the concept of engagement and is so critical to the success of the project.  Note that you may have different teams who work on different schedules for product improvement release.  This is okay.  By letting the customer know what to expect, you aren't leaving them out there guessing at what may or may not come.  If the customer knows that you only review and accept improvements on a calendar cycle, then they are better equipped and patient with the community discussion.


Action for you: Add this to your plan.


Get Engaged!


Engagement is critical to the success of idea generation.  The thoughtfulness and discussion is what can turn a good idea into a great idea.  Referencing a comment from our earlier blog, bad ideas can transform into a good or great ideas.   It is important that the product owners become a part of this discussion because as implied before, there is often times much to be discovered about the use and implementation of a product, and let’s be honest here documentation is often times vague and lacking to solutions beyond the basic.  The reality is that business today is having to do more with less.  Less resourcing is dedicated to maintaining and enhancing products and services, so we have to get smart about how we collect information and process it.


Not long ago, Brandy was involved in a discussion around ideas with a developer whose opinion she greatly respects.  The conversation was based on how we could begin to understand more accurately, customers expectations and business challenges.  In that conversation he said something that struck Brandy to the core:  "Customers make terrible software designers."  Wow...think about it.  We don't think he could have said it any better.  It is not to underestimate the customer or their use of the product, but simply to make a point: for some, we are in the business of software design, and that it is when a company truly understands the customers business challenges and problems along with their expectations of our product or service that put us in a position to design great products!


Finally, and we have said it often but bears repeating, it is critical that the product and/or service owner(s) participate. This is very key!


Be Committed!


It’s all about delivery. You must deliver on some items. What you need to discuss in your planning is what that commitment looks like.  Will you deliver on 10%, 20% or more of the ideas generated, or will you take the position to deliver on those ideas that completely change the landscape of your product offerings?  How will you draw in your audience?  What will success look like?  In a future installment of the series, we will talk about success, ROI, and KPI’s that can help to guide you on this journey.  But, for now, let’s make the agreement to be committed. Let's listen to our users to define the problems within the scope of our product and service offerings. These are potentially holding us back from gaining better market share, producing happier customers and making our brand the one discussed in professional meetings, around dinner tables, with friends, families, and in our schools and universities.


Commitment must be thorough and comprehensive. This means that the product or service owner(s) follows through on all aspects of managing the idea exchange environment including status.


Communicate, Communicate!


Last, but no least, let’s toot our horn a little bit.  When you actually implement an idea, tell everyone (and don't forget your user groups!) about it and when it will happen.  Use it to your advantage!  Be more transparent with your customer which in turn gives them reasons to remain loyal.  Give them what other product and service providers may not be giving them.  Let them feel confident that their voice is heard, their ideas are welcomed, and that you are ultimately striving to make a better product or service. There are many rewards that come from this effort.


Speaking of rewards, this is where leveraging a gamification process or system comes in to play to both recognize and reward users for their contribution (creating ideas) and participation (commenting, voting, etc), not to mention their idea being fully or partially implemented. We will talk more about this in our next blog installment.


Action for you: Add this to your plan.


Here is something for you to remember our key takeaways:

Ideation Implementation Planning.png

Happy New Year Jive Community!


There are so many neat things you are able to do in the Cloud version of Jive and I love that these features are making my enterprise community management job at Jive so much more simple, engaging and fun.  With Tiles & Pages and introduction of Call To Action Banner Tile in 2015, we are now able to create simple, beautiful and purposeful mobile friendly places within minutes.  Does your place need a face lift?  Check out my video blog for some new ideas.



Tip: Simple & Purposeful Places









Applicable for:

  • Jive version: Cloud
  • Community Managers, place owners/administrators with space admin or group ownership rights


Thanks for tuning in, until next time!

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