Imagine being lost on a deserted island with no hope of being discovered with only a volleyball named Wilson to keep you company. There’s a reason pirates used marooning as a form of torture. It’s a miserable existence (if you can call it that) that usually doesn’t end so well. But yet that’s what becomes of most corporate knowledge. It’s left on various file servers and websites across the enterprise with little hope of discovery or rescue (aka. reuse).
Community managers have a tough job. They deal with lots of different stakeholders trying to find that elusive “middle ground”. They incessantly cheer on community activities and push adoption of collaboration best practices; but when it comes to validating their position through tangible and quantifiable metrics it can sometimes seem daunting. Is the best measure user participation? How about community size? Each of these seem like great things, and they are, but typically organizations don’t have a lot of tolerance for soft measures that don’t directly impact the “bottom-line”.
Along For The Ride
The amount of control a community has over process and direction within a project has recently come up in a situation I’ve been involved with and I think it’s a great topic for a post since it strikes at the heart of many company’s trials and tribulations in creating vibrant communities. The real question in these situations is not one of control but of trust. Can you just be along for the ride and let someone else influence your project even if you don’t agree with everything they do?
Flock Theory and Leadership
I have to admit that I’m a bit of a collaboration and community junkie and as such follow some obscure topics. One topic I’ve had on my radar for quite some time is Flock Theory. Flock theory tries to describe the self-organizing and emergent aspects of human behavior. Succinctly put, behavior in some cases is not a property of any individual person (or bird), but rather emerges as a property of a group or social network (flock). This concept can be used to describe aspects of both collaborative teams and open source communities. I’m not going to analyze the merits of the theory but I do want to introduce its concepts which I think have implications for team/community productivity and possibility even individual information relevance.