Since social media have been making its first steps inside enterprises and the context of enterprise 2.0 has been emerging, everybody has been talking about communities. As a matter of fact there’s no better tools to facilitate exchanges within communities, a very orld concept that was given a new youth by this “social revolution”. But this focus on communities, sometimes, makes things more complicated than expected.
Whether they could be communities of practices, of interest, of knowledge, of purpose, communities are supposed to make information and knowledge sharing easier in order each of their members get the most of the other’s and, at the end, everyone gets more than what he gives. Obviously, it’s a key issue for many companies but it’s still hard for them to measure it’s real value. As a matter of fact, the value of intangible is a field where financiers have still a lot of work to do and the fact companies makes things more complicated by forgetting to align knowledge with action.
In an operational point of view, organizations, for which it’s already hard to put numbers on the value of their community and determine the ROI of what improves them (so they ask their providers to take care of that although it should be their own job), often make mistakes when they have to select the communities on which they will focus.
First, becaucse they still are not very talented at identifying the real communities et often mistake those they would like to exist and those that really exist and need help.
Second, because focusing on the traditonal concept of community they loose sight of another kind of group that need this kind of tools and is not a community in the strict sens of the word but that is often forced to conform to a norm that does not fit its needs. It’s about the people who need to work together, in many cases in an informal way since it’s a resort when formal structures reached their limits. The best example was what was done at GE where what prevailed was “the need for people to deliver a process“. You should also have a look at this comment by Chris Jonhson.
This kind of group doesn’t form, can’t be managed, don’t necessarily need the same tools functionnalities as a traditional community. It may be quite disturbing for companies because it implies they have to take into account the way people acutally work, admit they need more freedom in the way they get organized….but it’s surely more lucrative because it’s easy to measure the impact of these new practices on operational processes and then to answer the “ROI question”.
Enterprises may aim at exchanging knowledge to improve everyone’s expertise or “technical and utilitarian” information to get things done. These two approaches are sometimes complementary but are very different in the way they have to be addressed. Applying to one the recipes that work for the other makes things more complicated and may prevent companies to get the more obvious and expected benefits.
CommunautÃ©s, communautÃ©s-de-pratiques, Entreprise 2.0, rÃ©seaux sociaux d’entreprise, rÃ©seaux sociaux professionnels, rÃ©seaux-sociaux, roi