9 Replies Latest reply on Mar 11, 2011 10:50 PM by FrankGebhardt

    Less is More.  Is this true in your experience?

    kdomen

      I thought about Gia when she talked about the Dunbar Numbers and I saw this article:

       

      People who work on mapping collaboration and patterns of interaction  between people have noticed that less is more. Historically, companies  were quite interested in increasing the amount of collaboration. Now  they are interested in targeting and limiting collaboration because  people are getting overwhelmed. We will probably see a return to the  more curated, facilitated collaboration environments

       

      http://www.technologyreview.com/business/32452/?ref=rss

       

      Are you finding this to be true in your organization?

        • Re: Less is More.  Is this true in your experience?
          jhoehne

          I'd hold off on saying this is true for my organization, but I believe its because it is part of a change cycle that the organization, business, entity has to go through when new technology is inserted.  After moving out of adoption, which may be little more than implicit approval and a chunk of funding, there is a "then what?" question that crops up.

           

          When I read this article, the part you quoted made sense to me. There's been a huge build up in social media and Web 2.0. You can't watch a TV ad without seeing the company's facebook URL, the same way you couldn't watch an ad 10 years ago without seeing the company's official website URL. With any expansion there's bound to be value added and non value added components.

           

          Now that enough entities have adopted this technology they are seeing that every last bit of "collaboration" is not immediately value added. I use the term collaboration very broadly. To me, just lurking in your company SBS isn't collaboration, but it might be to others. I see that example of lurking in your company SBS similar as the more modern/present incarnation of how a user used to check newsgroups, external distro lists, etc. There's no purpose other than to stay informed, which will pay dividends in the future.

           

          I don't see any of this as particularly problematic, it will help address the issue of overwhelming the population that is trying to get work done. It all boils down to the purpose. I would restate the less is more as "more purposeful collaboration."  Targeted or limited collaboration implies an easily identifable output or purpose.

            • Re: Less is More.  Is this true in your experience?
              Mlavoie

              I'd suggest that with any new technology there are the 'early adopters' (to paraphrase Gladwell), then a rush to get in on it.  That rush produces a great deal of content, some relevant and some not.  Ultimately, the users who find themselves either the producers or consumers of relevant content will stay with the technology.  I'm using the word technology very loosely here, to describe not a platform but a new way of collaborating.

               

              In that sense, less is more.  Although everyone might dip a toe in the SoMe water, not everyone will be able/willing to contribute or consume valuable content.  It's that drop off that leaves the 'real' users to build collaboration.  Although their numbers are less, the quality of their engagement is high.

               

              My two cents.

              • Re: Less is More.  Is this true in your experience?

                Hi,

                I agree with @Jon Hoehne<https://community.jivesoftware.com/people/jhoehne>.  In the book Switch, the advice on getting people to have a lasting change in their behavior is to start with small steps.  When we can present this as an evolution and not a revolution, we can lower resistance.

                Mike

              • Re: Less is More.  Is this true in your experience?

                Ken:

                 

                You make some interesting points, and it backs up the collective "gut feel" of the folks on my company's "collaboration committee".  This committee is a cross-functional group (IT, product/corporate marketing, engineering, support) who oversee the direction of our collaboration strategy.

                 

                We felt it was better to approach internal and external collaboration one use at a time, rather than a "big bang" approach.  We have about 6 different product groupings, and multiple sub-groupings within those.  Instead of building one giant honkin' community for all products (or trying to launch spaces for every product/sub-grouping), we picked one big rock and hit it hard.  We figured we'd learn a lot from our first community, and it would be easier to innovate and iterate than to try and get it all right on the first time.

                 

                We had the same experience with internal communities.  We had some early adopters who led the charge, and everyone's needs and success criteria were different.  We are launching internal communities/spaces on a one-by-one basis...again, to learn from our mistakes and to build internal word of mouth advertising.

                 

                I think there's so much you can do with Jive and so many different ways to build a community/collaboration area, that if you opened it up for everyone all at once and said "Go forth and collaborate", it would get a bit overwhelming for most users.

                  • Re: Less is More.  Is this true in your experience?
                    bjewell

                    Jim, with your controlled rollout approach, how did you handle the viral requests for a collaboration group/space that didn't already exist?

                      • Re: Less is More.  Is this true in your experience?

                        Brice, we made the groups put skin in the game!!!

                         

                        Mlavoie made the point that there are a fair number of "early adopters"...and since I work for a technology company, I'd say we have a pretty high percentage of those.  When we first started talking about internal collaboration, lots and lots of people said "Ooh, I want that too!"  Unfortunately, many of them had no real business purpose in mind - they just seemed to be following the shiny ball.

                         

                        We sat down with the early adopters on a group-by-group basis and asked a few key questions.  First was "What do you want to use this for?"  We kept asking until we got to a specific purpose (document repository, project planning, etc).  We then asked who the "champion" would be - the functional owner, if you will.  We then got into success criteria - what would a successful community/group/space look like for the champion?  Is it a reduction in email traffic, reduced time to resolution (for some support/engineering groups), better adherence to deadlines?

                         

                        Asking these questions gave us insight on how to shape the community, and it also forced the internal groups to think about why they wanted a collaboration tool in the first place.

                         

                        Quick side note - we've been doing everything with spaces up to this point.  We haven't rolled out group functionality - it's obviously there, just none of our internal users know they can create a group.  We'll educate them on that later, but we want to crawl before we walk.

                          • Re: Less is More.  Is this true in your experience?
                            DGarber

                            That's interesting. We currently have 4 Spaces and 70+ Groups.

                            • Re: Less is More.  Is this true in your experience?
                              FrankGebhardt

                              Jim,

                               

                              most what you said hits familiar ground for me. We too are a technology company but we also have the manufacturing plant on the same campus. Hence we came from a strong business case (breaking down silos, sharing of information, one point of truth instead of email copies, finding the expert instead of "I used to call Jim", etc...), aligned the Jive structure to the business strategy and pre-seeded the space structure accordingly for 2 levels. Then we started started with a pilot group, adjusted the structure accordingly and opened it up to the whole organisation together with a massive training campaign.

                               

                              We had lots of early adopters and lots of "I don't care - I used to do it this way" attitude. But we allowed Groups for everybody. That took a few sessions with some senior managers overcoming the 'control everything' thinking. Our initial governance team (similar structured to yours) changed over time to address a number of items

                               

                              • bring second wave adopters in
                              • identify growing areas and those that stagnate
                              • deal with inconsistencies in the space layout (some simple rules helped a lot to reduce confusion - I wish you could define the standard space layout)
                              • discuss information confidentiality - for example a standard user cannot identify who can view or edit content he is posting in any given space.
                              • clutter management - outdated information, wrong information, data in the wrong container, duplicates, similarities, etc ..
                              • space and group administrator training (not just the technicalities but being a gardener for their space/group)

                               

                              So we had tremendous growth in spaces (50) and groups (120) within 6 months. Since then it has stabilised and we are consolidating at present.

                               

                              In hind sight, I'd agree less could be more and one can target specific areas and bring them aboard. However, we would have missed some amazing developments and the informal learning that happened in some areas. Overall, I'm quite happy how it developed. Although, we could have made our life easier using a simpler space structure.

                               

                              cheers

                              Frank

                        • Re: Less is More.  Is this true in your experience?
                          pmccarthy

                          We have 5 spaces and about 150 active groups.  We have about 40 dormant groups where people created them in the beginning as topical points of interest versus just creating a discussion on the topic in the space that enables the everything miscellaneous category.  We decided on approaching spaces as areas where we either wanted to push content to the community or use for programs that supported adoption by encouraging people to share things about their connections.  We have found this successful so far for sparking the interest and have them come back to the community each day.  We are still tweaking the pages and working on the leadership one at the moment.

                           

                          The breakdown which seems to work for us, after a year of tweaking, is as follows:

                           

                          Spaces:

                          Our Culture:  This is where we have our core values, life at the company and life outside the company, stories provided by anyone willing to contribute on how other employees represent the core values, a welcome to the company blog where managers post the welcome email there instead of the companywide alias, a farewell blog where employees can say goodbye the right way, and an additional highlight on our corporate social programs for community outreach.  Managed mainly by Community and HR, but 80% of the content is driven by the employee base; specifically through inviting them to share core values stories and recognizing others.

                           

                          Innovate:  This is where we allow employees to submit ideas, discuss other's ideas, look at the progress from Labs and innovations that are driven by internal means.  We created a form here and people submit their ideas which then get fed to a team that enables others to connect with the idea person to help bring it to life.  We just launched this, so its in early phase but its seemingly popular and on par with the other spaces so far.

                           

                          Success:  This is where we have a space that is for blog entries and documentations around success, whether sales, service or internally oriented.  We used to get an email every other day on the companywide alias but we have been training everyone to come here and post the entry--and of course, follow the page and submit their own stories.  Ironically now we're getting more of these each day because everyone wants to give kudos--it was an idea that we knew we wanted to do, but we were surprised how popular it became.

                           

                          Spotlight:  Our community manager features stories (mostly video or article) about the business and employee spotlights.   These entries are featured on the homepage first, where users can watch/read the intro and then click through to the page for more information.  This is our most popular area of the community at the moment, mainly driven from the employee spotlight features that we have done on video.  (I'll share one at some point).

                           

                          Talk:  The everything miscellaneous page, where people can post anything they want when they can't find where to post what they're thinking.  Our Community Manager moderates and moves content or features it in other areas (groups) where people who should see it and can contribute on it, will have it presented to them. 

                           

                           

                          Our strategy is to encourage connection first, then push the content from the enterprise in other areas.  So far, its working.  Since we relaunched on 3/1 with the spaces above and maintaining the groups as organic, user-driven, teaming mechanisms for agendas, departments, etc. we have seen overall daily average participation in the community increase a whopping 83% in the last two weeks compared to the previous 7 months daily average.  I've yet to dive into the content creation numbers, particularly around documentation but when I eyeball the graph from the admin panel I already know the answer to that one too.  Btw, thanks Kathryn for the invaluable planning insight. 

                           

                          Now to maintain this we have to start working on the documentation management, classifications, and knowledge management.  We're getting more "where do we put this and how?" questions--know a good e-librarian or knowledge manager...I'm hiring? 

                           

                          To answer the original question, I do feel that less is better.  Previously we had about 10-15 spaces and we sort of allowed the rampant topical groups.  People didn't know what was important, where to gather, and feedback was that it seemed like a lot of noise.  Centralizing it around core components is important and for us, it seems to work pretty well so far.