It’s good to be back. I confess that I lost (or was being ignored by) my muse and have not felt inspired to write for weeks.
WAY back on July 30 I wrote about the debate around whether companies need a companywide social media strategy or if collaboration across departments is the key. I had some good feedback from Beth Kanter and Augie Ray, whose work inspired the post. In the end, I suggested we needed a collaboration strategy.
In the weeks since that post, I’ve spent time pounding the pavement to evangelize and recruit for a prep sports community and attended a multitude of meetings and presentations around the company, and I’m even more convinced that we need that collaboration strategy. And soon.
I believe that “community” is what we need to do all across the company — internal community with our peers; external community with our customers; across all products, core and niche; marketing and customer service.
Naturally, I have an idea for this collaboration, and for fun I’ll stick with the ninja imagery I already have going: That the handful of folks across the company (fine ninja all) who are/will be tasked with exploring/building community be grouped in a “dojo.”
That this group of people make a concerted effort to share information on best practices, tools and research. That they collaborate where it makes sense on determining best practices for our company, be a support network for each other when it makes sense to fight conformity and carry concepts back to their respective departments.
I am not suggesting we create another department. The dojo would be a loosely organized group of people from various departments. Colloboration is the operative word. Each of these ninja, supported by the rest of the dojo, would push their respective silos toward the ideal — community as an integral function of our work and our lives, so ingrained that we eventually don’t need the dojo or even the ninjas.
And “community” is so much bigger than social media. “Social media,” “social networking” — those are really references to the tools we can use to foster relationships. And THAT’S what community is about.
It’s been said to me that the companywide embracing of community is the ideal for some day. Why some day? It’s tempting and easy to put off the hard work to achieve fundamental change, but the ideal doesn’t just turn up, wrapped in silver foil and a red bow. “Oh, look, the ideal has arrived. Isn’t that nice?”
We have to (cue “Battle Hymn of the Republic”) work for it every day, climb hills for it, knowing it’s somewhere on the path ahead, and that effort should start today, one step at a time. And I think the dojo could take responsibility for pushing us along on that march, be guardians of the drive for the ideal, if you will.
You may snicker at this imagery or scoff at my attempt at an inspirational speech (Obama’s speech writers were busy, so I had to go it alone), but don’t ignore the underlying message. That we need to work together and we need to start now.
If we don’t, I fear “community” will become compartmentalized by each department, owned by each silo, a piece of territorial turf to fight over, and we’ll never achieve the ideal.