One of the best sources of practical knowledge on online community building is Anecdote from Australia. In Building a Collaborative Workplace, they discuss three types of collaboration – Team, Community and Network. As they say, “Our purpose is to provide an understanding of the type of culture required to support collaboration.”
Anecdote’s collaborative framework:
Peter Bond’s article, which I referred to in 2005, on Communities of Practice and Complexity is still worth reading to see how communities can be viewed from a biological perspective and that communities don’t have to continue forever:
This suggests that the process of CoP development be approached as if they were transitory organisational phenomena that may act, but only for a finite period, as the source of the motivation for change and as the vehicles for change.
My 2006 post on the failure of online communities has some good comments and is worth a read if you’re thinking of setting up an online community. I also posted on an unsuccessful community of practice case study. Even with these failures, some think that we may be hard-wired for collaboration (good comments on this one).
Last year I used the Company Command model for a community of practice prototype. The advice on who to get involved in building it was useful:
- Initial Core Team of two or three people who desire to share knowledge.
- Early Adopters who are members of the community that you are serving, especially those who are already well-connected.
- Mavens with deep knowledge in an area that is valued by the members.
For anyone interested in the technology, I discussed how to select social network platforms as we were conducting our Work Literacy workshops. A wider variety of tools are listed on Robin Good’s Mind Map of best online collaboration tools.