Creating & sustaining a successful teamworks space


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A check-list for users of UNDP's peer-collaboration platform Teamworks. The questions are applicable for everyone who intends to establish an online knowledge network.

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Creating & sustaining a successful teamworks space

  1. 1. Creating and sustaining a successful Teamworks spaceCreating and sustaining a successful Teamworks space
  2. 2. Creating and sustaining a successful Teamworks spaceWho should read these guidelines?You, if you are a Teamworks user and you need an online collaboration space. And colleagues workingin Knowledge Management providing Teamworks support.Why should you read these guidelines?To avoid frustration and to receive hands-on support in creating a successful and dynamic Teamworksspace. The beauty of Teamworks - its interactive, user-centric design that allows everyone to easilycreate a collaboration space - is also a risk. To date, Teamworks users have established hundreds of userspaces and while many of them fulfill their objective, many have never created real value, resulting in:  frustration of colleagues who established spaces having high hopes for them;  frustration of colleagues and external partners who joined a space but never saw value; and  an increasingly confusing navigation experience for all Teamworks users, who come across dozens of inactive spaces before finding those that contain interesting discussions.These guidelines will help you to avoid the first two pitfalls.What’s not included?These guidelines focus on the non-technical work; they do not contain any advice on how to use andcustomize Teamworks. For step-by-step guidance on how to get started see the Basic User Guide. If youdecide to launch a space, you will find useful tips in the Advanced User Guide.How to use this document?The guidelines are divided into questions (in red) and tips. Go through the questions and write downshort answers in the space provided. Some questions might not be relevant for you; just skip them.Writing down the answers will help you deciding if you need a space; and you can use parts of yourwrite-up to communicate your objectives to colleagues and future space members later on.
  3. 3. Creating and sustaining a successful Teamworks spaceWhat’s in this document?Part I: Things to consider before opening a space  Defining clear objectives  Identifying demand  Specifying the topic  Identifying your audience  Agreeing on roles  Making the space attractive  Measuring success / defining indicatorsPart II: Things to consider right after the launch  Creating a collaborative atmosphere  Promoting the spacePart III: Things to consider for maintaining a vibrant space  Engaging silent members  Capturing insights / documenting experiences  Dealing with conflicts
  4. 4. Creating and sustaining a successful Teamworks space Part I: Things to consider before opening a spaceDefine clear objectivesWhat is the purpose of the space? [Please enter your response here]Be clear about the purpose of the space, write it down in a fewbullet points, share it with colleagues and ask for feedback.Here are some broad reasons for Teamworks spaces that mayhelp you formulate your purpose more specifically: o To coordinate a workshop, conference, event or learning initiative o To host substantive discussions online o To work together on a project o To access expertise, answer questions or provide just-in-time problem solving o To access information on a specific issue, share documents, tools & other resources o To support the daily work of your team/section/portfolio o To exchange ideas and experiences in certain areasWhat outputs or process goals do you want to achieve? [Please enter your response here]List 1 – 2 specific and measurable outputs that can beachieved within 3-4 weeks as a quick win and motivatingfactor for your audience. (You will find more guidance ondefining indicators of success below.)Identify demandDid you assess the demand for the space? If yes, [Please enter your response here]how?People rarely participate in online collaboration space unlessthey are demand-driven. Assess the need and expectations forthe space through a short survey or informal interviews withpotential members.
  5. 5. Creating and sustaining a successful Teamworks spaceSpecify the topicWhat is your space about - what topics will be [Please enter your response here]covered?Define clearly what issues will be discussed in your space.Most colleagues and external partners already belong toseveral online networks. Why should they spend time inyours? Outline the topic and objectives in the description ofthe space and in all outreach messages. Some space ownershave further clarified the scope of the space in a HTML blockon top of the space.Did you check if other Teamworks spaces cover [Please enter your response here]your topic and pursue similar objectives?The Teamworks sitemap provides a first overview of existingspaces. You can also use the search option to check if similaruser spaces exist.Are there external networks that may be better [Please enter your response here]suited to your purpose?Visit this website for an overview of online communities ondevelopment topics.Identify your audienceWho is your target audience? [Please enter your response here]Are there subject matter specialists who you can [Please enter your response here]invite to your space?If you create a space to support an event, ask the presenters /speakers / facilitators to join and introduce themselves.Should the space be open or closed? [Please enter your response here]We recommend that your space be open unless you need todiscuss issues that cannot be shared with a wider group. Theadvantages of open spaces are inclusiveness and commitmentto knowledge sharing. In some cases, however, closed spacesare the right choice, for example to develop documentstogether with a small number of people.Do you want to include external colleagues? [Please enter your response here]If you bring in external partners, consider potential risks ofinviting them to TW such as confidentiality or reputationalrisks for your organizations. Discuss mitigation strategies withyour colleagues. A number of spaces that targeted externalpartners failed shortly after their launch due to lack of clearfocus and objectives, no clarity of expectations and noresources for facilitation. Keep this in mind when designing aspace.
  6. 6. Creating and sustaining a successful Teamworks spaceAgree on tasks & rolesHow should space members contribute? [Please enter your response here]If space members don’t know how they can contribute, they won’tparticipate. Clarify what you expect from members, formulate it in anactionable way and post it at the top of the space (here is an example)and in your promotion messages. Do you want them to uploaddocuments? Should they be tagged in a specific way? Or do you wantthem to contribute to discussions? Be specific and provide clearinstructions visibly in your space. It’s also important to promote low-engagement tools such as the “Recommend” button and the “Cross-post”function to engage space members.Who will facilitate the space? [Please enter your response here]Depending on the purpose of a space, the activities of a facilitator differ.Generally, a facilitator:  Clarifies and reinforces the purpose of a community through regular messages to space members.  Welcomes new members.  Acts as community advocate by listening, monitoring, and responding to their requests and conversations.  Works behind the scenes to get contributors involved.  Ensures that knowledge exchanges are captured and easy to find within the space and also within your organization.  Acknowledges valuable comments, reinforces points made by space members.Facilitating also implies adapting to what participants want. Sometimeswe plan and design a space according to our own ideas and views onparticipation but the members take it into a new direction.How much time do you have to work on this space? [Please enter your response here]Do you need to define other roles, such as resource [Please enter your response here]persons?Resource persons should be individuals with substantive expertise, whoare able to convey the information and encourage discussion. Being aresource person can help raise an individual’s visibility and thus providesan incentive to participate, so make sure they are regularly featured inyour space.Do you need a moderator? [Please enter your response here]Moderators act as knowledge brokers by feeding in relevant content,conducting background research and preparing summaries or networkupdates. In many cases, the role of facilitator and moderator areperformed by the same person. Separating the roles is recommended ifthe space facilitator does not have the background or resources toprovide substantive inputs.
  7. 7. Creating and sustaining a successful Teamworks spaceMake the space attractiveHow will you create interest right from the start? [Please enter your response here]Don’t launch an empty space. Customize your space, populateit with interesting content and launch it with an intriguingquestion that prompts engagement from members. Ask somecolleagues to post contributions before you go live. Thinkabout inviting friends over to dinner: you would not want tohave guests in an unfurnished house.What does your Teamworks profile look like? [Please enter your response here]Be a role model. Upload a picture to your profile, introduceyourself in the discussion forum and then ask new members todo the same. Create a welcoming atmosphere. Open yourDashboard every morning and check the ‘Activity Feed’:anyone joining your space will show up there. Click on theirname, leave a short welcome message on their profile pageand encourage them to introduce themselves. And specifywhat you expect from them in your space.Define indicators & measure successWhat are the indicators for success? [Please enter your response here]If you are creating a space that will demand a significantamount of input from you or colleagues, it is important toformulate clear success indicators and a combination ofqualitative and quantitative measures. Such measures caninclude the perceived usefulness of the space for theindividual member, sense of belonging and overall satisfaction(qualitative), number of members, number of posts or numberof responses to a query or time elapsed for questions to beanswered (quantitative).If you are planning to establish a long-term community andyou are serious about monitoring and evaluation, see thisguide to develop a framework to measure success in an onlinecommunity.How will you report on the space and its [Please enter your response here]achievements?Reports should be prepared for their target group. When youcollect data and prepare a report, consider who it is for – you,the space members or management.
  8. 8. Creating and sustaining a successful Teamworks space Part II: Things to consider right after the launchPromote the space & create a collaborative atmosphereHow will your target audience know that your [Please enter your response here]space exists?You will need to promote your space widely. Communicate theobjectives and activities of the space to new and potentialmembers through different channels such as related TWspaces, emails, in workshops and meetings, and informalpersonal networks. Prepare messages to members prior andright after the space launch.What is the tone of your space? Is it very formal or [Please enter your response here]rather informal?Think about the diverse membership of your space anddifferent notions of respect and (in)formality. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution regarding the right tone. Your audiencewill enjoy being a member of your space if you as a host do so.Try to stay away from the typical technical jargon so oftenused in the development context. When contributingsomething, don’t assume prior knowledge and make sure yourcontent is to the point and easy to understand even for a non-specialist audience.How will you welcome newcomers? [Please enter your response here]Welcome every new member with a short personal note onher /his Teamworks Profile. Depending on the audience, asknew members to introduce themselves to the community withsome basic ice-breaker question.How will you recognize contributions? [Please enter your response here]Everyone likes to be recognized and rewarded. You canhighlight top contributors in a dedicated space block everymonth or develop a newsletter where updates or contributorsare acknowledged. Also, make sure you monitor your spaceand thank or respond to newly added content.What else will you do to reinforce activities in your [Please enter your response here]space?Identify and nurture a group of ‘power users’. Somecolleagues have an affinity for social collaboration and arekeen contributors - you should be able to spot your powerusers quickly. Acknowledge their contribution in your andother spaces and spotlight their profiles. Reach out to themvia email, phone, Skype or in person and ask them every nowand then to do specific tasks such as responding to queries,posting a new discussion or sharing a blog post.
  9. 9. Creating and sustaining a successful Teamworks space Part III: Things to consider for maintaining a vibrant spaceEngage silent membersWhat can you do to engage the inactive space [Please enter your response here]members?Most space members will remain silent and inactive.That’s normal, generally most online communities have1% power users, 9% who comment, post links andparticipate every now and then and 90% lurkers (thosewho watch and learn). Treat lurkers as vital members ofyour space, provide them with timely, relevant – butmost of all, engaging – content.How can you draw more attention to your [Please enter your response here]space?Screen Teamworks for spaces related to your topic,contact the owners and discuss how you can link andcross-post content. Try to go out and comment on blogsand discussions and include links to your space. Themore you do this, the more you will receive commentsto your content and your space.What activities could draw the attention of [Please enter your response here]your space members and others?Create a buzz in your space every now and then byinviting an interesting guest speaker to a webinar or anonline discussion. You can conduct a poll, host acompetition or post relevant videos to the space. Manyspace facilitators also established a certain rhythm fortheir spaces, ie. a short newsletter every 4 weeks sendout by email with hyperlinks to the space or a relevantarticle posted every Friday.Capture insights & document experiencesHow will you consolidate the exchanges in [Please enter your response here]your space?Consolidating discussions might not be necessary inmany user spaces. But it is important to think aboutnew members and how they can find out what hasalready been discussed. A popular method ofconsolidating inputs is the FAQ method.To what extent and how will you share [Please enter your response here]outputs of your space with other spaces andexternal partners?
  10. 10. Creating and sustaining a successful Teamworks spaceDeal with conflictsWhat are the power dynamics in your space [Please enter your response here]with some individuals dominating?Will some members feel disinclined to [Please enter your response here]participate because more senior colleaguesare space members?How do different cultural backgrounds of [Please enter your response here]your space members influence theinteractions in your space?What can you do to ensure that the space is [Please enter your response here]inclusive?If there are language issues, how can you [Please enter your response here]address them?How can you provide feedback to this checklist?The questions and tips here reflect the experiences of a number of UNDP colleagues who havelaunched spaces. Please help us improve these guidelines - tell us what is missing, what isn’trelevant and how we can do a better job in supporting colleagues across the globe to createmeaningful collaboration spaces. Please add your thoughts as a comment here.
  11. 11. Creating and sustaining a successful Teamworks spaceAnnexGuidelines on Online Facilitation:  UNDP Knowledge Networks Facilitation Manual - by UNDP’s Facilitation Team  Facilitating a Community of Practice - by Itrain  Knowledge Sharing Network / Community Design Aid – by FAO  IMark Online Facilitation Course – by IMark  One-page CoP Start-Up Guide - by Etienne Wenger  Experiences of Setting up and Running CoPs - by KM4Dev  Online Community Guidelines including facilitation tips - by Full Circle / Nancy White  Online Community Purpose Checklist - by Full Circle/Nancy White