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June 06, 2008



Chuck, your situation reminds me of that movie "Force 10 from Navarone" where they set off that explosion at the base of the dam. Launching your platform was your explosion - heard by a few but not by many. Then each crack & spraying leak was each community, some bigger than others. Now the patience part kicks in - it may take another year or two before your old "barriers" actually burst open and collapse - great movie!

On a side note, I also work in high-tech and we seem to be having more success with awareness (we're about a year behind you) when we talk about a conversations network with a variety of conversations channels versus talking about communities. The term "communities" is hard to define and explain to people and hard to fit into the rest of the collaboration tool suite. I've found that it's much easier to position a "conversation network with channels" among things like email, text chat, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings. We still have a ton of hard work in front of us (we're currently planning the launch / planting the "charge") but it looks like we'll be going with conversation channels instead of communities. Discussion channels would obviously work too.

Chuck Hollis

Ken, I'm really starting to like you!

First, the analogy is great -- vivid visuals really work for me!

You thoughts on "conversations" vs. "communities" caused me to think a bit, and share my thoughts on a recent post.

Had I had to do it again, I'd probably start my focus on conversations vs. communities -- simply more expedient.

But as I mentioned in the most recent post, I still elevate communities to the topmost rung in the value hierarchy.

Next time I do this? Start with conversations, but be ready to escalate to communities when you see the opportunity.

BTW, even though we started with communities, we've got PLENTY of conversations!!

Matthew L


In talking about the “Win-Win Challenge” I see a danger here. Let me start with a “win-win” story.

Two sisters are at home and both desire an orange. When they get to the kitchen there is only one orange left and the sisters both state they must have it. In an attempt at finding a “win-win” solution they split the orange, thus both get what they wanted, right? Most people would call this a win-win outcome because both sides got, at least part, of what they wanted they got it in an equitable manner; even split. Now, what if I told you the rest of the story? The first sister went upstairs to her room with her half orange and contently pealed and ate the orange, tossing the rind into the trash. The second sister stayed in the kitchen, pealed the orange, tossed the fruit in the trash and proceeded to use the rind to make zest for a cake she was baking. Now do we still believe that the solution was truly a “win-win?”

The danger I see here is we assume the broader community will “see the rewards” of contributing freely. I’m not so sure they will, especially with the older generations. In some cases yes, but will the majority of them function this way especially in a large corporate setting? I doubt this. Also, we need to further understand what they hope to gain. We need to get the “sisters” talking and giving feedback about what they expect, how they expect to get it and how we can deliver these items to them so they turn around and contribute to make it a 2.0 scenario instead of a 1.0 as you mention.

Does this mean focusing on the organization of groups and pushing them, or, as you say, perhaps we need to let them form naturally and spend our time nurturing those wild flowers that spring up?

Have you done a focused effort like this within EMC and if so, what are the results you see? Or, does it really just boil down to the community leader and the topic, regardless of how the community/ conversation is started?

Chuck Hollis

Hi Matthew -- yes, I follow where you're coming from.

Generationally speaking, our most prolific contributors are 30-something (or 40-something) middle management or senior individual contributors.

They have plenty to say, they're confident in their abilities, and -- frankly -- I think they're looking to show off a a bit. The younger ones frequently don't have a lot to contribute -- even though they participate, and the older ones aren't comfortable with the whole sharing thing quite yet.

We see many people jumping and figuring out that they need a community, and the party just starts. We seem to see this more from the engineering side of the house.

Others need a LOT of hand holding. They want to, they need to -- they're just not comfortable with the whole thing, hence the need for a directed resource.

And, as you point out, we have to sit down and think through what's in it for the community sponsors, what's in it for the community participants -- getting to that "win win".

Small, closed groups that reside in a single organization have their choice of tools and methodologies. Larger, open groups that are looking to spread their influence are drawn to this particular platform, so we're looking for this sort of "need".

Finally, my goal here is acceleration of the benefits, so we're trying to do different things (with varying degrees of success) to shorten the natural proliferation curve.


Wow. Really great ideas. Keep flowing the thoughts.

ann torres

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