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Discovering The Value Of Social Networks and Communities of Practice

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There has been much written about measuring the value of online communities such as Social Networks or Communities of Practice. However, most pundits tend to think of measuring value from a purely financial perspective, i.e. the Return on Investment (ROI). Clearly this is an important factor, but it’s not the only factor that should be considered

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Discovering The Value Of Social Networks and Communities of Practice

  1. 1. Steve Dale Director Semantix (UK) Ltd Collabor8now Ltd Discovering the value of Social Networks and Communities of Practice www.collabor8now.com Based on a presentation to the Public Health Information Network (PHIN) Atlanta, Georgia. September 2009
  2. 2. Who am I? An evangelist and practitioner in the use of Web 2.0 technologies and Social Media applications to support personal self-development and knowledge sharing. Steve was the business lead and information architect for the community of practice platform currently deployed across the UK local government sector, the largest professional network of its type, and continues to play a key role in the support of virtual communities of practice for value creation in public services. Stephen Dale (Steve)
  3. 3. What I will cover <ul><li>How do we value shared knowledge? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the ROI for a collaborative network? </li></ul><ul><li>What we have learnt from CoPs in UK local government. </li></ul>There is a growing recognition but not yet a consensus about integrating Community of Practice (CoP)-style working in the everyday practice of public sector programmes and services.
  4. 5. About UK Local Government <ul><li>Local government in England and Wales employs a workforce of 2.1 million people across 411 local authorities. </li></ul><ul><li>Each authority is working to deliver the same 700 services to their residents. </li></ul><ul><li>Has an annual operating budget of over £106 billion ($177 billion) for delivering services. </li></ul>
  5. 6. Over 700 Local Gov Services
  6. 7. Background to the IDeA <ul><li>Set up in 1999 by and for local government </li></ul><ul><li>Owned by the Local Government Association </li></ul><ul><li>Accountable through a stakeholder board </li></ul><ul><li>Working for local government improvement so councils can serve people and places better </li></ul><ul><li>Learning what works and helping the councils and their partners help each other improve </li></ul>
  7. 8. IDeA CoP Platform Statistics <ul><li>Platform officially launched November 2007 . </li></ul><ul><li>Currently 50,000 registered users , and 900 communities . </li></ul><ul><li>90 new members a day (over 400 new joiners a week). </li></ul><ul><li>Average of 10 new CoPs created each week. </li></ul><ul><li>100% council coverage ( 411 councils ) </li></ul>
  8. 10. Work group descriptions KIN, Warwick Business School As long as there is interest in maintaining the group Passion, commitment and identification with the group’s expertise Members who select themselves To develop members’ capabilities; to build and exchange knowledge Community of Practice As long as people have a reason to connect Mutual needs and interests Friends and acquaintances To collect and pass on information Social networks Until project completion Project milestones and goals Employees assigned by senior management To accomplish a task Project team Until organisational restructuring Job requirements and org structure Employees who reports to the group’s manager To deliver a product or service Formal work group Duration Adhesive Members Purpose
  9. 11. So what’s new about CoPs?
  10. 12. Royal Guild of Cloth makers Guild of St Luke (painters) Guild of Goldsmiths
  11. 13. Over 800 Worshipful Companies www.wordle.net
  12. 14. So, nothing new about people gathering together and sharing knowledge .
  13. 15. But have we forgotten how to have conversations?
  14. 16. The age of mass production has stifled independent thought
  15. 17. Uniformity, repetition
  16. 18. Workplace – no place for creative thought
  17. 19. Is this what we asked for or what managers think we need?
  18. 20. &quot;If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you got.&quot; Albert Einstein, 1879-1955 Evolution
  19. 21. This is NOT profound! <ul><li>We don’t know what we don’t know </li></ul><ul><li>People don’t learn from content – they learn from other people. </li></ul><ul><li>We don’t know the value of knowledge until it is shared </li></ul><ul><li>We need to find where the conversations are happening….and join in! </li></ul>
  20. 22. Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas http://www.marcomprofessional.com/posts/trevor.young/brian-solis-introduces-the-conversation-prism
  21. 23. Group Collaboration <ul><li>Dialogue is NOT: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Discussion, deliberation, negotiation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Committee, team, task or working group </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Majority wins, minority dominance, groupthink </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Dialogue IS: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Free-flowing exchange of ideas among equals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All ideas are solicited and are considered </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Best ideas rise to the top </li></ul></ul>Cass R Sunstein, 2006
  22. 24. The ROI conundrum <ul><li>How do you put a price on a conversation and how do you measure the value of that conversation? </li></ul>
  23. 25. Return on Investment (ROI) <ul><li>Keep the I small and the R will look after itself. </li></ul>
  24. 26. ROI – alternative definitions <ul><li>Return on Influence </li></ul><ul><li>Return on Interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Return on Impact </li></ul>
  25. 27. Different perceptions of ‘value’ Community member Community Benefits to the organisation Benefits to the individual Knowledge Sharing Quality and intensity of engagement
  26. 28. Value to the organisation <ul><li>Cost of one face to face conference: </li></ul><ul><li>100 people attending an event in London </li></ul><ul><li>£5000/$8200 for rooms + lunch </li></ul><ul><li>£30/$50 per person return train travel from a central England venue (Birmingham). </li></ul><ul><li>One face-to-face conference would cost £8000/$13000 </li></ul><ul><li>Cost of an on-line conference is virtually £0/$0. There have been over ten on-line conferences facilitated by IDeA in 2009. </li></ul>
  27. 29. Measuring value to the individual Ask the CoP members ….
  28. 30. Keeping up to date with current thinking <ul><li>“ The site is a good way to check things being released by government or to look up something you may have missed, it’s an extra safety net. I always go on at least a couple of times a week to keep my eyes open to the issues and make sure we’re pointing in the right direction.” </li></ul><ul><li>Tristan Hardman-Dodd, Policy Officer, Sandwell Borough Council </li></ul>
  29. 31. Innovations <ul><li>“ Many of the online groups that we set up on the site either reflected new projects or were new groups working on a new priority that wasn’t covered under the business unit or structure. So for our change groups for example, it was a place for those new projects and communities to have a home.” </li></ul><ul><li>Noel Hatch, Projects and Research Lead, Innovation Unit, Kent County Council. </li></ul>
  30. 32. Sharing Good Practice / avoiding duplication of work <ul><li>“ I was scanning the website and I happened to come across work by colleagues in Barnet on diversity monitoring, which means you can profile your users to make sure you’re not providing services that aren’t needed.” </li></ul><ul><li>Dennis Bartholomew, Senior Policy Manager (equalities), London Borough of Sutton . </li></ul>
  31. 33. Relationship Building <ul><li>“The thing about CoPs is the discussions and ideas that go on,” he adds, “it’s like having an ongoing network of contacts, and that was difficult to do before.” </li></ul><ul><li>Pete Thomson, business architect, Wolverhampton City Council </li></ul>
  32. 34. Measuring value by productivity
  33. 35. Metrics & Measurement <ul><li>Step 1: Identify Business Objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Step 2: Decide on Priorities </li></ul><ul><li>Step 3: Choose What to Measure & Tools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Quantitative </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Qualitative </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Step 4: Benchmark </li></ul><ul><li>Step 5: Identifying Trends & Reporting </li></ul>
  34. 36. IDeA CoP Business Objectives <ul><li>Connecting people to people </li></ul><ul><li>Connecting with key stakeholders, practitioners and experts </li></ul><ul><li>ensures that fundamental learning and experience is shared within </li></ul><ul><li>and across the sector. </li></ul><ul><li>Efficiency and value for money </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative working environments support faster problem solving, </li></ul><ul><li>reduces duplication of effort, and potentially provides endless access to expertise. </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainable self-improvement </li></ul><ul><li>Providing opportunities for staff to network, share and develop </li></ul><ul><li>practice encourages an effective flow of knowledge within and </li></ul><ul><li>across the sector, while supporting evidence informed decision and </li></ul><ul><li>policy making. </li></ul>
  35. 37. What to measure (everything!)
  36. 38. Understanding your community
  37. 39. Understanding your community profile Observers Power Contributors Contributors Inactive
  38. 40. Network maps provide insight and prompt questions I frequently or very frequently receive information from this person that I need to do my job . Hutchinson Associates 2005
  39. 41. Metrics <ul><li>Don’t rely on metrics to claim your community is successful. </li></ul><ul><li>Use metrics and indicators to understand your community better. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t let your managers turn indicators into targets! </li></ul>A chicken doesn’t get fatter the more you weigh it!
  40. 42. IDeA CoPs - what we have learnt
  41. 43. Tools that can support collaborative working Find and connect with experts Threaded discussion forums, wikis, blogs, document repository News feeds Event calendar News and Newsletters Find and connect with your peers
  42. 44. … but it’s more about the people than the technology
  43. 45. What can you accomplish in one week? Time in the week Start a discussion Be a CoP member Facilitate a CoP Respond to a forum posting Write a blog Contribute to a wiki Read a document Read a blog Read a wiki Comment on a blog Add an event Upload a document Read a forum post No time I hr 5 hrs 10 hrs Lots of time
  44. 46. Top Tips. <ul><li>..identify and look after your facilitators – they are quite often the difference between successful and unsuccessful communities </li></ul><ul><li>..let users drive their own experimentation and use of tools. </li></ul><ul><li>..target and support areas that have a clear desire and need. </li></ul><ul><li>..build trust and relationships face to face where possible. </li></ul><ul><li>..condition your managers for failure – not every CoP is going to be successful. </li></ul><ul><li>..use online conferences and ‘Hot Seats’ to build membership growth and encourage conversations. </li></ul>Do….
  45. 47. Don’t.... <ul><li>..think you can force people to collaborate </li></ul><ul><li>..assume everyone understands how to use Web2.0/social media tools. </li></ul><ul><li>..assume everyone knows how to contribute. </li></ul><ul><li>..worry about the ‘lurkers’. </li></ul><ul><li>..let command, control or hierarchy hamper or kill your community </li></ul><ul><li>..set unrealistic targets </li></ul>Top Tips.
  46. 48. Know when to let go!
  47. 49. <ul><li>“ Go to the People Live with them Learn from them, Love them. </li></ul><ul><li>Start with what they know, Build with what they have. </li></ul><ul><li>. . . But with the best leaders When the work is done the task is accomplished The people will say, ‘We have done this ourselves.” </li></ul>Lao Tsu, Chinese Philosopher (Contemporary of Confucius); Taken from Tao Te Ching c 500 BC And finally…
  48. 50. Stephen Dale www.semantix.co.uk www.collabor8now.com Email: [email_address] Twitter: www.twitter.com/stephendale Blog: http://steve-dale.net Thank you!
  49. 51. Credits <ul><li>Getty Images http://www.gettyimages.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas http://www.marcomprofessional.com/posts/trevor.young/brian-solis-introduces-the-conversation-prism </li></ul><ul><li>Social Network Analysis - Hutchinson Associates 2005 </li></ul><ul><li>Jacob Nielson http://www.useit.com/alertbox/participation_inequality.html </li></ul><ul><li>Uniformity image Edward Burtynsky </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Let go’ image http:// minusthebars.blogspot.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>Connie Benson http://conniebensen.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>Cass R Sunstein http://www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/directory/index.html?id=552 </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge Management Team colleagues at the Improvement & Development Agency (IDeA) http://www.idea.gov.uk </li></ul>

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