Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Is community chat the New pre-course questionnaire?


   Things have been getting busier on the Connecting HR yammer community as we start to prepare for our HR unconference on 21st October.

But I’d love to see yet more conversation taking place – see my post on the Connecting HR blog: Is Community Chat the New Pre-Course Questionnaire?


I also repeat it here:


Different people will have different objectives they want to achieve from Connecting HR.

For me, the network is all about relationships; all about connecting (as it says on the tin).  It’s about ‘social’, in the sense of this being about relationships (and not about recreation of course).

The one common factor between our tweet-ups and unconference is that they’re forums people can use to connect, without the traditional focus on content getting in the way.  So as well as being ‘social’, they’re ‘un’ as well.  You can read more about my thoughts on this in this Changeboard article: http://www.changeboard.com/resources/article/3465/building-networks-and-creating-a-community-in-hr/.

I’m interested in connecting, partly because I’m currently writing a book on this (see http://blog.social-advantage.com), and Connecting HR gives me the opportunity to experiment around a few things.

But it’s mainly because I do truly value connection.  This is something I’ve focused since well before the rise of social media, in fact, I started my first HR network, called Exchange (which Marc Weedon was also a member of) back in 1994!

My focus on, and belief in, connection is why I see participation in our community network (on Yammer) as so important.  It’s a bit like the Pre Course Questionnaire we ask people to complete before traditional training perhaps?

Interestingly (to me at least), my main focus on PCQs goes back to around 1994 when I set up Exchange.  I was working as the manager of an IIP team at a London TEC (what we had before we had the LSC before we had the SFA).  PCQs were seen as an important part of the process because they helped people clarify their own objectives for learning and future performance, and gave them something to evaluate training against.  Of course, hardly anyone ever completed them, but nearly always found the process useful when they did.

I see community participation as something a bit like this.  Particularly for something that’s social, or un.  A PCQ is no longer useful preparation.  An un or social event requires un or social preparation too.  It requires connection and conversation to have started before the actual un event.

Of course, just like the PCQ no one invests much time in it (but again, will find it very useful when they do).  This is why our community (and all communities) have lurkers.

And that’s fine, as without lurkers, the community wouldn’t exist (it’s why Jane Hart has suggested calling lurkers legitimate peripheral participants).

Apart from, to an extent at least, it’s not.  We need people to participate in our community (and on our Yammer Community).  Firstly, because Gareth and I can’t organise the unconference alone.  And secondly, to give everyone the social preparation they need to make the unconference a success for them.

Participation in our community follows a fairly traditional power law curve (see diagram for current curve).  All communities end up looking something like this.  Jon Weedon wrote an interesting article on his blog recently where he reviewed the commonly accepted segmentation of community participation (90/9/1): http://j0n1.com/2010/01/29/participation-inequality/.  But there’s no specific limits on the exact shape of the curve.

We’ll never get everyone participating, but we can get more people participating, and people who are participating doing so more.  Achieving this is important for our community, and for everyone achieving their individual objectives from attending the unconference too.


You can find out more about Connecting HR: the community, the unconference and our Yammer platform on our new website: http://connectinghr.org.



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