Formal and informal community management #mslocjam

Key #mslocjam questions concerning community management include:

The Community Roundtable and others speak to the practice of community management and the important role it plays. But when in the early stages of moving toward being a more social enterprise, how do we best manage the trade-offs in committing resources to community management – e.g., formal, dedicated roles vs. part-time or informal roles?

For these topics we are interested in hearing about effective practices or innovative new approaches. We are particularly interested in your more reflective thinking — based on your own experiences in working to help organizations become more connected and open in their knowledge sharing, what insights do you draw?

Share your insights as a comment or point us to other resources.

5 Comments

  1. I believe Community Managers need to be assigned prior to launching the community. Part-Time community management can work, but I would prefer a dedicated Community Manager.

    To me, a dedicated Community Manager plays the most critical role in the community’s success. They are in place to energize the sharing process and provide continuous nourishment for the community. The Community Manager communicates a sense of passion and is there to help the community achieve it’s goals through consulting, connecting, facilitating, helping, and guiding.

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    1. Agree with you Bill. While not assigned, my role as one of the primary community managers (amongst others) in #etmooc—in the connectivist Massive Open Online Course (cMOOC) I was involved with this past winter—emerged early on and fulfilled the needs you listed above. When you see members remark that they feel supported and that help is always close at hand, and when members are taking risks/otherwise flourishing, you know these efforts have been successful. 🙂

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  2. Bill and Alison, your comments make me wonder if some people are born to be community managers – people central in an organization, boundary spanners, people who naturally promote psychological safety, potentially multi-taskers who don’t mind having one eye on the community at all times. What do you think? Could a community wither or flourish based on the skills of its community manager? Are there other necessary skills?

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  3. Bree, I think Bill may have more insight from his role in working with/managing community managers, but I can speak from my personal experience. When I emerged as a community manager (alongside facilitation and other leadership roles), it was something I stepped into knowing that in online learning/cMOOCs/xMOOCs, etc., learners’ feeling of isolation is a common issue. Having been a learner in a very similar situation and knowing the level/type of support required to mitigate that drove me to want to fulfill that supporting role for others.

    To answer your question, my own experience as a learner coupled with–to a smaller, yet still important extent–my classroom (teacher) training provided me with the tools I needed to help others, for example, make connections to resources/others inside and outside of the ‘course network’, build confidence, determine how to situate themselves and help each other out in a learning network, etc. And I have always really, really liked to help others, so that doesn’t hurt, either. 🙂 All that said, this dicussion reminds me of the big question about leadership development–can leaders be born or shaped? I think they can be shaped, I’d like to think that anyone with the interest and desire to learn community management work could do the same.

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  4. I agree, a community manager is a guide, and what makes him/her successful is understanding the community, being sensitive to its integrity and its changing needs. Those needs change as the community develops, so the manager must be nimble in knowing when to balance nudging and stepping back to allow autonomy. It sounds like there is a need for more structure and guidance at the front end of the community, but then as the community takes root, the role might become more hands-off over time. This article discusses the the issue in terms of nurturing rather than controlling in way that resonated with me. Just as the community is dynamic so too is the effective community manager. Likewise management plays role in supporting and nurturing the conditions for learning and using the collaboration tools that support it.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/gartnergroup/2012/01/27/the-five-management-imperatives-of-social-media-success-creating-real-business-value-through-mass-collaboration/2/

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