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December 09, 2008



I am going to have to spend some time with this but a great start. You've written before describing how these approaches help produce leadership that is transformative rather than transactional. (for example, http://chucksblog.emc.com/a_journey_in_social_media/2008/11/a-really-open-conversation.html )

Does the management of the organization have to be pre-disposed towards transformational leadership or can these tools flourish in an organization that is typically transactional in its mode of leadership?

Anne Marie McEwan

What would I delete or change? Nothing.

What would I improve - not a lot, except perhaps to include some illustrative stories, interview snippets to suppport some of the observations on p31, for example.

What would I add? Might you be interested in knowing how other businesses have gone about effecting culture change, new ways of working etc? Not that you would learn much more than recognition of patterns of responses and outcomes.

Really like the concept of social media proficiency, and it being so clearly linked to people and processes. I also like the the idea of practicing proficiency before going beyond the firewall.

The description of contextual factors (size, increasing structural fragmentation, implications for cross-function and cross-boundary communication etc) is what I would expect to see. I am really impressed by the candid points raised in Responding To The Challenge. The situation described is very common but seldom so honestly declared.

Zooming forward to page 31, there's are some equally candid and tentative observations on cultural evolution towards openness.

I am sure, since this is a draft, that this key outcome will be included in an executive summary.

Thank you for such a detailed and interesting paper, and also for giving me the opportunity to comment.

Chuck Hollis

Thanks, Anne Marie, for the feedback -- you're the first!

I certainly could add more illustrative stories -- dozens of them, if readers would tolerate it.

Part of our corporate culture is to be very transparent and open about our shortcomings. If anything, I was on the polite side of the scale.

Thanks for the feedback!

John Tropea

Hi Chuck,

I have posted about top-down CoP creation, which seems to be in contrast to your bottom-up creation???...I'm gathering at EMC|ONE that people can create their own communities (I'm refering to page 21 of your paper)
But I'm not so sure, as I recall an earlier blog post of yours referring to a community request form (actually we based our form on this)...is this still the case? (as this would make it top-down creation)

On one hand I like the idea of bottom-up creation because if people see the "create" button they will do it. Instead if they have to request a community they may never get round to it (time and formality is an obstacle)

Also if they do it themselves they may be more inclined to create small groups, rather than feeling communities are a formal and large thing.

There are so many work emails I come across about pilots, fixing a process initiative, etc...and these people are using email rather than a CoP. I feel they may use a CoP if they did not have to wait and go through a formal process, and rather just create them themselves.

In saying this our CoPs are not very task oriented like Basecamp, even though they have the same tools (blogs, forums), Basecamp is designed for tasks.

Does Clearspace handle tasks well?

You mention overlapping CoPs and that those CoPs can work it out on their own and merge. As Dave Snowden says it's better to have a few CoPs on the same topic if it means people feel confident to share, compared to a bigger CoP where they don't trust each other, even though it's the same topic...people like to have their own comfortable house and crew to hang out with.

One caveat is, if it's a Business unit(team) using a CoP, then there should only be one CoP for this.

We feel if people create their own we will be littered with inactive CoPs due to people not knowing how to use them. We could mitigate these with putting them in an inactive directory (to separate them from the rest).

Then our job would be to monitor new CoPs, and say "we noticed you created a CoP, let's set up a meeting so we can set you on the right path on how to use the tools, best structure your community, and how to facilitate and sustain a community (people need time and passion to run a community)."

At the moment we are having this discussion (along with the request form) before the CoP is created. Then we create it and give them tips to run a pilot, so it gives them time to learn the tools, and populate it before they open up.

What I like about our creation approach (top-down)is that before the community is created a lot of things have been thought out on structure and scaling, the last thing we want to do is merge and split CoPs later, as migration is a headache.
It's also gives them a good chance for adoption the first time, as sometimes you don't get a second time.

The only reason I would encourage bottom-up creation is that we would see more informal CoPs, as the user can instantly create one with a click. Our task would be then to have a meeting immediately so we can set them on the right path.

Perhaps this is a good hybrid...bottom-up creation (empowering the user), but then catch them as soon as they come out the gate. Not sure how viable this is if too many CoPs get created to keep up with.

With top-down creation we may be a bottle neck (slower creation, or no creation-as people decide to request another day, but never do), but at least the CoP is thought through, comprehended and started off on the right foot.

Right now our CoP platform is not as easy to create as a Facebook group, it's a bit more robust, so the design has also led us down the top-down creation.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Here's my blog post:


Thanks, Chuck! I really found this interesting reading and it's something that has been missing in terms of hands-on how-to for organizations to adopt this kind of technology. Much of your recounted experiences/challenges/wins match my experiences in working with similar organizations and their launches into social media. Thanks again for sharing!

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