Organisations need to invest in strategic community management for the life of collaboration. The process of reconnecting keeps relationships relevant as the organisation changes. Maintaining the connection of human relationships is the foundation of strategic value in collaboration.
One of the consequences of representing a maturity model as a stepped process is that people interpret the steps as linear process – do connection then move on to do sharing. The reality of collaboration in any organisation is that all four processes are going on at the same time. Even the most immature networks can have spots of sharing, solving and innovation. The model helps organisations develop the conditions to make those spots consistent, sustainable and predictable.
Connecting continues throughout the four phases. Perhaps a better representation would have horizontal bars or waves to show a continuity of each step in the model. The model reflects an ongoing development of capabilities and the main emphasis of each phase of development, not a series of linear exclusive activities. It also means that failing to maintain investment in any step can lead to the collaboration across the organisation slipping backwards in maturity. Let the relevance and effectiveness of relationships fail in your network and you will soon see a decline in the value created.
A corollary of this is that the most mature networks are also those that are most sophisticated at connection. In these networks, the process of connection is a task embraced by most users, is inherently a part of work and reaches well beyond the organisations boundaries to leverage all the relationships needed to make work better. Innovative organisations leverage relationships effectively, look beyond a role to leverage organisational capabilities and look outward to their networks to execute on innovation opportunities. Enabling this takes sustained effort and the development of new mindsets, capabilities and work practices in your teams.
Don’t Forget Reconnecting
Reconnecting is as important as the initial phase of establishment. Why? Connections get broken over time. Things change every day in your organisation. People join and leave. Businesses are reorganised. New strategies are developed. Projects form and close. Policies change. Technologies change. Without continued adaptation to all this change and without the creation of new relationships, the network will begin to wither and die. A lack of ongoing connection and relevance to work is the reason most big bang marketing launches of collaboration fade away. Maintaining connection to support better ways of work is an ongoing exercise in any organisation.
The elements that I outlined on my last post on Connection need to be maintained, repeated and periodically refreshed. That is a role of strategic community managers. Organisations need to maintain an investment in community management long beyond launch to shape this ongoing adaptation of the networks of relationships across the organisation. Remember the relationships create the value, not the technology.
If you are interested in exploring further how to reconnect your organisation, the Collaboration Value Canvas can map an an integrated plan for the community management and adoption work required in a two-hour workshop with business stakeholders. Contact Simon Terry to discuss how this could be applied in your organisation.