We had an excellent member call late last year with John Stepper of Deustche Bank who is working on a training course to help employees manage their reputation inside the organization. This conversation about influence and reputation is very active on the social web but taking that inside the enterprise puts a unique filter on the discussion. John is going down this path for a number of reasons:
- There are gaps and problems with the current methodologies we use to measure the performance of knowledge work
- It is very expensive to recruit and lose talented employees who cannot see the interesting opportunities available to them within the organization
- The majority of individuals do not understand how powerful social tools can be to their own advancement
One of the interesting assumptions underlying the discussions was that people know what they want and how to articulate it. To me this is a big issue – and not only around professional development but in almost all areas of life and business. The very act of finding an answer assumes a number of things – that one:
- Is aware of an issue
- Knows how to articulate the problem
- Understands what the answer might look like
- Is comfortable asking for help
Each of the above steps are actually quite difficult and many people find some of those steps almost impossible – I don’t particularly like asking for help for example. However, this process is one that communities excel at enabling. Other people with more experience, after interacting with someone, often see the issue and know how to resolve it on the spot – long before the person with the issue even realizes that there is an issue. In this way, a potential mentor at Deutsche Bank may reach out and offer assistance to junior employee long before that person realizes they could use the help and understands what that help would look like. It’s how a product manager, after interacting with a customer over time, can see an issue the customer is having and propose a solution long before the customer makes the connections themselves.
The connection between communities and innovation is often made and to me, this ability to solve problems for others before they are even expressed, is one of the most powerful benefits of deploying communities. Innovation cycles have decreased rapidly with the rise of agile methodologies and the reams of customer data. Companies need to look at how they can fundamentally restructure how they think about innovation life cycles to remain competitive. Turning the tacit knowledge created by communities into innovation before it is translated and documented as explicit knowledge will be one of the core innovation methodologies going forward.
The challenge, of course, is that communities require a lot of time and investment before they begin to pay-off. Not all organizations will have the patience and foresight to develop their customer community before they need it.
Do you have examples of people in your community solving a problem for someone before they asked? We’d love to hear about it!
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