We all talk about encouraging collaboration as a way of working in our organisation and across organisations.
It’s a difficult task. In a recent APM Knowledge SIG that I took part in we looked at Collaboration, co-operation and competition – project environments through a knowledge lens.
With some great example of how different organisations are encouraging collaboration.
But the fun started when we asked the audience how do you kill collaboration in an organisation?
And how do you do it at different levels in the organisation?
We asked for them to come up with silly, crazy, insane and a few sensible answers to this question.
And here is a summary of some of the responses:
1.Refuse to use common systems
2.Hide behind rules
3.Be unwilling to share experience/knowledge
4.Be unwilling to stay informed
5.Lack of communication / commitment
6.Claim responsibility for other work
8.Allow no time to collaborate
9.Insist on email only for communication
10.Have no team meetings or briefings
11.Be a mood hover
12.Have a lack of emotional intelligence
14.Constant Team restructure
15.Have no strategy
16.Create a blame culture
17.Using unhelpful metrics
18.Reward wrong behaviours
20.Discourage social interaction between colleagues
21.Create the fear of failure
One thing we did note is that there will be a lot of cross-over between the levels. But the impact of the behaviour by people at the different levels will make or break collaboration in the organisation.
What other ways could you suggest would kill collaboration in an organisation?
It’s not very often that you can say to your members you can be a little bit bad for a while. But this is what we tasked them with for this month’s online Chat
Normally you ask for advice on how to make thing better. But for this one we asked how you make things worse.
Loosely using the concept of “smart failings” by Victor Newman we asked the members of the Online Facilitators Community on the Knowledge Hub if they could come up with 25 ways, online facilitators can make a group fail.
This is what they came up with:
- Bombard users with direct messages
- Don’t allow anybody to join
- Randomly delete members from the group, particularly most active members
- Be rude to anyone who posts – trolling and flaming
- Don’t allow any content to be created in the community
- Setting up a new group without testing the idea of it with potential members
- Not having a plan of ideas and activities
- Don’t invite anyone
- Set up such a complicated structure with so many different threads
- Don’t allow people to PM each other
- Tell people off or disagree with them publicly / belittle them for their lack of knowledge.
- Consult with members but do what you want rather than what they want.
- Have lots and lots of rules
- Use terminology only a small number of members will.
- Exclude members from communications just because they can’t attend or take part in particular group activities.
- Politicising it
- Email documents and other content directly to members so that they never have to visit and interact with the group.
- Never respond to any questions that have been asked by members of the group
- Keep referring people to other sites to get the answer.
- Go on Holiday for two weeks and turn off all the functions so no one can post for two weeks.
- Disappear/leave the group without any warning and go off and start another group without planning it and in fact invite the same people and make the same mistakes all over.
- Invite people who you know will never participate or view but it looks good that you have them as members.
- Make the most junior member the lead facilitator and do not support.
- Upload all your content on the first day
- Delete posts of members who you deem to have less interest in the topic.
This is only 25 but there must be so many more.
As we now know 25 ways to make them fail. I wonder how many we have done by mistake.
A big thank you to, Coryn, Dimple, Gill, Julie, Richard and Stacy for your great suggestions and examples.
You always know that a get-together has gone well when you get kicked out of the room and everyone is still in in-depth conversation as they are walking out of the room and still chatting in the corridor and lift.
Tuesday 17th Feb was our first face to face get together of Online Facilitators across the Knowledge Hub and a couple of guests.
This will hopefully be the first of many, as there are plans for other meet ups in Scotland, the South West and the Eastern Regions. Look out for more details for future meet ups.
Maybe if there is interest we can run a regular one in the London area every quarter.
Back to what happened during the meet up… The discussion was based around the biggest challenges that you face for your group / community / network. (You can choose which one is appropriate to you)
The topics included:
- Increasing contributions
- Turning ‘lurkers’ into participants
- Knowing what technology to use and when
- Packaging useful resources
- Keeping the momentum going between face to face meetings
- Moving past just facilitators posting.
So what did we talk about?
- Welcoming members and helping them take their first step into participating.
- Asking good questions that will get members involved, rather than just providing information.
- Creating regular activity and planning content and activities.
- Using the wiki to repackage key resources. E.g. New members or those who just want the answer.
- Creating a network of key relationships in the group to move past just facilitators posting.
- Adding fun/social elements to your group’s activity plan, eg. competitions, recognition rewards, photos, and questions of the month.
- The culture and expectations of members and testing out different approaches to get a feel for what works well.The all-important purpose statement for a group to help plan content and activities.
Plus a lot more which I’ve probably forgotten. You had to be there!
There were also a couple of great ideas that I feel we can look at in more detail.
- How do you encourage more people to dip their toe in the water? (Getting first time contributors sharing their initial issue or challenge with a question for the group.)
- Learning from teams that use a number of groups to manage their programme of work and the different stages involved.
Lastly a big thank you to Melissa Whittle from Geoplace for hosting our first meet up, and for all the people that came along and contributed. You made the get together worthwhile.
From research conducted Nonnecke, B., Andrews, D., Preece, J 2006 suggested that only 13.2 % of those questioned had no intention to post from the outset.
Historically participation levels have followed a pattern.
On Wikipedia it is suggested that participation levels will follow the 1-9-90 rule. This is based on the idea of creator, contributor and lurker.
Socious suggest its 10-20-70 whereas Community Roundtable (with full time facilitation) says it can get towards 15-30-55.
So what happens to all the rest in the middle? What can we do as facilitators to increase participation and member engagement?
That’s what our latest online chat focused on. How do we engage members especially the new ones?
We asked four questions to help guide the discussion. Below is a summary of the discussion.
1.What are your key elements of your acceptance/welcome messages that help engage new members?
- Introduction to the group
- Introduction to the facilitators
- Reminder to set up notification
- Direction to key content
- Direction to key discussions
- Links to welcome pack
- Link to walkthrough video
It was also noted that a large percentage of groups with low activity and low participation rates, did none of the above.
2. When and how do you follow up with new members?
- Follow up after a certain period of time to ask if they need help (time dependant).
- Follow up after first participation.
- Encourage a second participation as quick as possible after the first one.
3. How do you help new members participate without feeling overwhelmed?
- Tip from an external community was to provide a hotline number for members to contact the facilitators.
- Include your email address in your group description.
- Simple message reminders asking for help or input to discussions to all members.
- Encourage people to people interaction. Don’t hide behind FAQs.
4. How can other community members help engage new members?
- Encourage a buddy system between members from the same or close by organisations.
- Build a core group of members (Champions to assist new members).
- Member referral. And the person who referred the new member will be the buddy and introduce them to the group.
A big thank you to Ken, Melissa, Yvette and Dimple for taking part in the discussion who provided some great insights.
This can also affect the discussions, content and activities that the facilitators have up there sleeve to stimulate activity.
Quite often, you run out of ideas or don’t know where to turn to get that spark of inspirations.
This is what our latest online chat focused on. We asked 3 questions over an hour and this is a summary of the discussion.
Q1. What are your favourite online/ offline resources that spark ideas and content for your group?
- Chatting with members and other facilitators to gather ideas.
- Looking at newsletter and publication on the subject area
- Twitter chats on the subject area
- Influential bloggers from the subject area
- Looking at content curated sites such as Storify and Scoop.it
- Other online communities (e.g. LinkedIn or professional bodies)
Q2. What types of activities have been really successful in your group in regards to gaining responses, comments or likes?
- Competitions (Fun and work related)
- Forum discussion asking for advice and help
- Forum discussion sharing experience of an activity, review or process
- Online chats (Question based or Ask me anything)
Q3. Do you have a plan of content, discussions or activities to roll out with your group?
- Yes, it’s regularly updated at team meetings so we have a plan of action that can be rolled out
- Yes, starts of as ideas on a post-it and gets refined over time to allow changes and new ideas to come in depending on the members needs at that time. Mostly based around discussions, activities and communication with the members
- Yes, initial based around a work programme.
- Yes, running regular activities like online chats, group messages and updating members.
No I’m not talking about the 80’s Norwegian band. But the moment when members of a community start to believe that you do not need to be an expert to write a blog.
A number of facilitators of communities that I have spoken to would love to have more member’s blogging about the subject area. But when they speak to them, they are a little shy and do not believe they are expert enough to write a blog.
So this is a little idea that you could try out with them to show how easy it is.
There are a number of blogging styles that you will see when you start to read.
Event blogging is one of the easiest and if very common place. You even start to see some people rushing trying to be the first to post a blog after the event. (Maybe that’s just some of the events that I go to)
Event blogging is– sharing impressions, opinions and insights from and event of seminar with others who may or may not be able to attend
So what’s the simple way to do this? Well next time you are at an event with a number of your members of your community ask a few of them if they would like to fill in the A-ha moment. I came across this idea at one of the Henley KM Forum but never thought to use it in this way.
When you approach your member say that as a key member of the community we would love to capture your insights from the event so we can share with the wider community.
At the end of the event quickly take a photo of what they have written down. And now you have a range of insights that can be shared with your members of the community.
Hopefully, a simple example like this will show your members how easy it is. And maybe for the next event, you may even have some volunteers.
We all only have a limited amount of time when it comes to facilitating our group. From previous research the average was around 4 hours per week for some of the most active groups.
And The State of Community Management report backs up that the correct types of action by the facilitator can really increase participation rate.
So what are those tasks that you need to do and have to do to maintain and active and thriving online group?
Well that’s why we had an Online Chat all about.
It’s been mentioned many times that as a group facilitator we have to wear many hats to get the job done.
Get Satisfaction has a great infographic called Inside the mind of a community manager to demonstrate this.
But what is the secret to balancing such a variety of activities and roles and what are our hacks for productive task management?
During the discussion we tackled three questions. For group members you can access the full discussion here.
Here’s a quick summary of the discussion
What does your average week look like? Do you have a routine of facilitation tasks to manage your group?
- Some facilitators didn’t realise that they had a routine. Until they thought about it.
- The routine changes slightly depending on how busy the group is
- Tasks range from accepting and declining members, keeping an eye on conversation and helping them flow, uploading new content and creating activities for members to participate in and keeping in touch with key members and connecting with new ones.
- Highlighted how to manage your group on 10 minutes a day.
How do you prioritise your tasks and what ones are the important ones?
- Anything that helps members engage
- Accepting members (you don’t them waiting at the door)
- Responding to questions (24 hour rule) even if it’s a holding message
Do you delegate tasks to other members of the facilitation team and how do you go about it?
- Take it in turns to respond to acceptance messages.
- Take it in turn to send a welcome message
- Have an agreement between the facilitation team who will do what and when so no one feels too pressured.
- You don’t have to limit the facilitation team just to one organisation
If you are a facilitator of a group on the Knowledge Hub and would like to join our next chat you can join at https://knowledgehub.local.gov.uk/group/facilitatorscommunity