We have an office in San Jose, CA, so part of the INXPO Team is excitedly rooting for the San Francisco Giants in the 2012 World Series. A common trait of these teams is a great manager: Bruce Bochy of our hometown Giants and Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers. And while championships are won by the players on the field, managers can play instrumental roles, as well. There’s a similar dynamic with online communities and their associated community managers.


Let’s consider internal communities today – and five ways internal community managers are like baseball managers.


1) They put people in a position to succeed.


Whether it’s a baseball team or an online community, the manager doesn’t directly control the final outcome. Instead, managers select the right “players” and then put them on the field in a position to succeed. In a baseball line-up, the manager decides the starting line-up and makes critical decisions about pitching changes. In an internal community, the community manager educates users and familiarizes them with tools, features and tactics to help them make the most of the community.


2) They ask management for the right players.



Image source: MLB Franchise Notes: Giants Extend GM Brian Sabean Two Years - SportsBusiness Daily | SportsBusiness Journal | SportsBusiness Daily Global


In the Major Leagues, a baseball manager has an ongoing conversation with his General Manager and ownership about the current year’s team, as well as next year’s team. They’ll tell management where they find gaps, along with particular needs (e.g. more power, more speed, etc.). In an online community, the community managers have an ongoing conversation with managers, directors and VP’s to promote the community – and, to recruit their subject matter experts to provide content and conversation within the community. A baseball team without the right players is like an internal online community without the right contributors.


3) They make the right strategic moves.


On the baseball diamond, the right moves can make the difference between a win and a loss. Make the wrong pitching change or the wrong decision on a hit and run – and it can make you a villain (instead of a hero). For internal community managers, it’s important to define your strategy and stick to it. The strategy should be aligned with the business objectives of the community. So if an objective is to enhance organizational learning, a strategy should be put in place that helps to achieve that objective.


4) They win by taking the right chances.


A baseball manager may call a “suicide squeeze” to get a runner in from third base. There’s a chance it backfires, but there’s also a chance that it makes the difference in a close game. An internal community manager decides to promote the online community by dressing in a scary Halloween costume. He could get laughed at and ridiculed, or he could garner 25 new users into the community. Success often comes when you take the right chances.


5) They acknowledge the key players.



Pablo Sandoval: a key player in Game 1 (Image source: Sandoval's 3 HRs lead Giants to 8-3 romp in opener)


Whether it’s the post-game locker room or press conference, baseball managers will acknowledge the key players who made a difference in the game. In an internal community, employees should be recognized for their work, their achievements and their activity (within the community). Define an MVP award – no, not “Most Valuable Player.” For you online community, it’s “Most Valuable Poster.”




Best wishes to the San Francisco Giants – many of us here are pulling for you. And best wishes to your internal community. Get inspiration from Bruce Bochy and Jim Leyland and get that community of your’s into your internal World Series!


Fielding Your Own Team


Want to find out how the INXPO !App can help your internal community thrive? Join this (INXPO) Jive Group - or, feel free to contact me. My profile: Dennis Shiao.