Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Big Launch - a counterintuitive view

The business need was articulated, lessons have been applied, investment made in marketing materials, senior people briefed and supportive, facilitators' training organised, content seeding primed. So, you are all set to launch the big push for your organisation's new Community of Practice?

Is a big launch with senior people backing the new Community of Practice the right thing to do?

At the recent Knowledge and Innovation Network Roundtable event, it was posited that a 'big launch' or aggressive marketing may be counter-productive for online community initiatives. It appears from the work done by the UK Local Government Association that their most sustainable and vibrant communities gain traction and engagement best from word of mouth. This is borne out by the success of many 'viral' communities; those that have sprung up because of a grass-roots need to connect. In some cases these may initially be successful because they do not carry the imprimatur of the organisation.

KIN research has shown that most sustainable Communities of Practice do have a clear purpose, trained leaders that are given time to facilitate the group and support from the leadership. This investment by the organisation can be light-touch; providing the capability, tools and support for individuals to make connections. 

Perhaps the big fanfare is best left until the Community is established and achieving some of it's goals.
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