A couple of quick thoughts...
- Do as I say...First, for groups you are personally involved and created are they all open/members only types? If you have some that are not, maybe work with your team on getting them to be open as a) it sets a good example, and b) it will help you work through the arguments you and your team members (who will argue no one can see our secret sause) will have.
- Find a great example of the value add- Search your open groups for examples of cross team interaction with people that otherwise would not interact. So we had a case where someone asked for product ideas and 10 people from various areas of the company chimed in. There had to be 30 diferent responses back and forth among this informal working group. a few months went by and a new iphone app was born leveraging the ideas from people all over the company....it was a nice use case and people said Wow!! I bet if you look, you can find where you have x-team interaction that had some benefits and can make the case that this just doesn't happen when you are hiding behind your private group.
- Is it really a top secret? - I recall reading that 8 out of 10 emails could be posted on the water cooler and are not revealing anything that isn't generally known around the company. I'll have to give thought I where I saw that. I do recall doing a poll after reading that to see if people would "take a test". I challenged them to look at their last 10 emails they sent to determine if they truly needed to be these private or small group emails or would be fine if anyone saw them. I got a mixed response but I do think it gets people thinking. The test they should use is "as you look at each of the 10 emails, if you accidentally left it on the printer in the hallway over night are you losing any sleep?"
- Create a Public and Private groups? One strategy we implemented that seemed to work was recommending both a public and private face. So maybe you don't want to have everyone see everything...so what if you have an open/members only group regarding the topic/project etc.. and do most of your work out there. But then also have a private or secret group for just that 10% when it really isn't appropriate for all to see a certain post. So some may say, "sounds like extra work". The value goes back to point 2. If you can get people to entertain the thought that your public information could either be a) beneficial for other to know about or b) they may have some insight for you, then the extra work might be worth it. Plus over some time they may ditch the smaller, secret group once they get comfortable with the model.
hope this is helpful,
sorry for the delay in response Tim. I think the key is to start with teams that are in fact interesting and buy-into the power of transparency. They will be motivated to keep more info public (internally public of course). As for people gravitating back to private. If we are all on to something and transparency does have business benefits (such as non-team members contributing or giving feedback that the info was helpful to them), then the team won't go back to all private because they will see the benefit. But they will likely need to give it some time to see those benefits. But stick to the willing first to lead the way and be sure to capture those great examples so you can market to others.
Social Edge Consulting
When we started, our stated policy was to be open unless a VP signed off on the need to confidential. There are a number of articles on collaboration and innovation which point out that it is not the original idea but the refinement and exploration where we get real innovation. The stated and unstated reason that people wanted to go private was the fear of saying something stupid. Pointing out that that already can happen in a meeting, phone call, or email and the fact that as the author, they can edit or delete it, knows the support out of that argument.
For those that did go private, they are responsibility for access control. Anyone that tries to access there area and is unable will need to contact the owner.
There are still real needs to have limited access but those are not the normal working community. We also pointed out that people with knowledge and skills which can be of value to solving their issues can only help if they can see the question.
I am the ECM at my company, and we are getting ready to rollout our first ever implementation in Jive. Our current wiki has mostly open spaces, with a very few small exceptions. We are fortunate in that two of our company-stated values are Openness and Teamwork (workign collaboratively), so we feel we have strong reason to strongly recommend open groups. So, maybe in your case it isn't so much about persuading them to stay open, but being very prescriptive about what should be private? We plan on creating specific criteria that should be met before we allow a private group to be created. This is the only gateway to creating a group at all-- open and member groups have no requirements and anyone will be able to create one.
Also, from what I understand, having a private group means it would show up in search results, but not be viewable--- do you have any metrics in place to show how many times someone searched for a private group? If the number is high, then this might help convince folks that, yes, people are out there who are interested & could possibly add value by participating. Just a thought.