The Delicate Balance Of Creating Value
If you manage a community of practice (CoP), you face a
difficult balancing act.
You need discussions that generate value.
However, the discussions that generate value are often the
least popular (in terms of activity). One person might initiate discussion on a
relatively niche aspect of the topic, an expert in that specific field will
reply, and a few others might also add their thoughts.
These are the discussions a CoP is built for; one person
sharing their advanced expertise in a single aspect of the topic with a larger
group. Future people that search for this topic will find your community.
However, if you have too many of these dry discussions the
community becomes tedious. Members only visit when they have a question/problem
to solve. This won’t happen very often.
You need to balance these discussions with the
activity-boosting discussions. These appeal to an individual’s social needs.
They ask questions about someone’s experience, best/worst/memorable situations,
and positions on different topics.
Too many of these social discussions, however, and you have
a highly active community that generates little real value. Members might visit
every day to improve and maintain their own reputations, but the dry, valuable,
discussions seldom appear. You might even train members not to post valuable
discussions at all.
Like most things the balance is somewhere in the middle. If
activity is a problem, you veer more towards the social-based discussions. If
value is the problem, you lean more towards the value-based discussions.
This also means that less or more activity doesn’t correlate
well with you doing a better or worse job. It may simply be a decision to
generate more value from your members.
For a tip, it’s easier to build the social connections first
and then focus on creating value.
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