Change is Hard: Online Communities and Organizational Change Management


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Using an online community is a huge change for people from more traditional backgrounds or for less web-savvy audiences. This is especially true for communities used inside of a company or organization where people are being asked to change the way that they work. An online community can be a large organizational change, and these changes take time and effort with plenty of education and training. People building online communities sometimes underestimate the amount of resistance and fear that can come from many people within the organization. As community builders, we can learn quite a bit from organizational change management principles to come up with some interesting nuggets of information for how community managers can help people through the change to a more community-oriented organization.

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Change is Hard: Online Communities and Organizational Change Management

  1. 1. Change is Hard Online Communities and Organizational Change Dawn Foster Sr. Executive & Community Practice Manager at Olliance Group @geekygirldawn
  2. 2. Change is Hard on People   Fear   Anxiety   Worry   Resistance   Revolt Photo by: 416style
  3. 3. Community Can Be Big Change   Many of us thrive on learning and using new technologies and finding new ways to collaborate   For others, an online community is a huge change   Shift from reading websites to being expected to create content   Need to learn new technologies   Communities can be especially scary because   Mistakes and failure are public for your peers to see   Anything you say now could be around forever   Some organizational cultures make it difficult to build community   Government, conservative companies or professions, regulation Photo by: BGLewandowski
  4. 4. Scope of the Issue with Change   Entire industry / ecosystem   Government, regulated industry, less tech-savvy industry, certain demographics   Company or organization   Internal corporate community, non-profit organization community   Some portion of the population   One of more audience segments   Certain individuals having difficulty with the change Photo by: Anirudh Koul
  5. 5. Organizational Change Mgmt   Definition (Wikipedia)   Change management is a structured approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state. It includes both organizational change management processes and individual change management models, which are used to manage the people side of change.   We can learn from organizational change management principles.   Used for many years within organizations to deal with change   Historically used with top-down change within organizations   We can apply some of their best practices to community building   Even when it isn’t a top-down initiative
  6. 6. Kotter’s 8 Step Change Process   Establish a sense of urgency   Help people understand the importance of getting involved now   Opportunities, market / competition concerns, potential crisis   Create a guiding coalition   In an organization, get executives as champions   For corporate communities, get key customers   Industry leaders, influential community members, etc. can also be champions for industry efforts   Develop a vision and strategy   Know what you want to accomplish (vision)   Always have a strategy for your online community efforts
  7. 7. Kotter’s 8 Step Change Process   Communicate, Communicate, Communicate   For people who are afraid or resistant, a single communication will not win them over   Over communicate with as much information as possible   Provide plenty of opportunities for training. Many people will need more than a single training session   Communicate using a variety of methods (written, video, etc.)   Empower People to Act   Remove obstacles   Change systems or processes that make it difficult to build community   Encourage risk taking and non-traditional ideas Photo by: DailyPic
  8. 8. Kotter’s 8 Step Change Process   Generate Short-Term Wins   Find easy ways for people to be successful quickly and frequently   Recognize and reward members who are helping build community   Evolution   Figure out what works and what doesn’t   Evolve the community to change those things that aren’t working as well   Continue to improve the community over time   Culture   Focus community management on reinforcing and building this new culture   Develop new leaders who support the culture Photo by: usag.yongsan
  9. 9. Summary   Q&A   Resources:   John P. Kotter: Leading Change   About Dawn Foster   Author of Companies and Communities: Participating without being sleazy   My Blog:   Consulting:   Twitter: @geekygirldawn   Email: