One of our communities at work is on sharing solutions and tips for DMS support staff, this community is more than shared learning, it’s becoming like our business unit area where we announce team news…see more.
We have a blog to communicate and share, forums for discussions, and wikis for our solution website and to collaborate, and the latest is on our community homepage.
If we encounter an issue we consult the wiki solutions site, check out the forums and blogs, and if need be post a topic on the forum.
As a result we may add a solution to the wiki or share a tip in the blog, and if need be post a finishing reply on the forums.
So you can say we are using social tools to do our work, but it’s a sharing type of work, it isn’t exactly using social tools to start and finish a task.
Our community is a Shared Interest Group (SIG) even though we are a business unit. Our shared interest is not personal passion, it’s our job, a place to share and discuss support issues and solutions.
I do feel we have the SIG dynamics, but it’s a forced shared interest, kind of a formalised SIG, which is suitable for our purpose.
What our community isn’t doing at the moment?
Our main purpose in this CoP is to use it to deal with daily support calls, whereas a non-support task is something we don’t do using the CoP. We may discuss something in the forums in which a task surfaces for someone to action, but we don’t actually do the task in the CoP.
If I was to publish a post on our announcement blog requesting a colleague to help me on a task, eg. “need help entering existing solutions from a spreadsheet into our wiki”, how would this task be managed or performed?
A colleague may leave a comment on the blog post, and then I would email them and we would do the task in email.
I elaborated in a previous post on my concept of task rooms for tasks, rather than within the CoP, this especially rings true for cross-unit collaborations when you would have to find the right CoP to work in.
This is the juicy stuff I want to do using social tools, actually doing a task, more pure In-the-Flow work.
I could set up a folder in our CoP as a task room – and create a new blog, forum, and wiki for the task.
I would also just set permissions for just the other person and I.
1. Well I don’t want our task banter to pollute the homepage of the CoP, and I don’t want our task objects (blog, forum, wiki) to pollute our community subscriptions page.
2. Imagine after 50 tasks, our community subscriptions page would be littered with old task blogs, etc…
These two things wouldn’t happen if I set the permissions on the task folder for just the people involved, but this is making it private even though it doesn’t have to be…what if I want to show someone progress. Or once the task is finished open it up as public, then we have the 2 points discussed above happening.
So my idea is to use the same social tools we use in our community, but in a separate space called Task Rooms.
Unlike communities all workers should be able to set up a Task Room in a couple of minutes.
On our CoP we can create a wiki or a folder with shortcuts to all the task sites our members are working on. We can also use our CoP blog if we need to announce our progress on our task.
Google Sites like most wikis are changing from a group edited website to a platform, hence called “sites”, not “wikis”.
Sure Google Sites has wikis, but it’s more than that, it has a task list, documents, blogs, and startpage type widgets…it doesn’t have forums. The great thing is you can make a dashboard page out of any objects.
Not only do you have your homepage, but you can also make mini homepages (dashboards)
eg. I may have lots of blogs, task lists, wikis, and document cabinets in the one site, and I am able to weave together a selection of those objects into a dashboard (mini-homepage), and the main hompage can exclude content from any objects.
My main purpose for not doing tasks within the CoP, was that it would:
1. Litter the community subscription page
2. Create noise in the CoP homepage for those not involved in the task
3. There was a third point, in that cross business unit people could set up a neutral space, rather than trying to find the appropriate CoP to do work in, or set up a new CoP just for a small task.
Having a dashboard functionality within the CoP as a mini-homepage for a task, and to be able to exclude those objects (blogs, forums, etc..) from appearing in the main subscription page, and to exclude their content in the main homepage, would enable me to do tasks within the CoP.
Really who cares, in a hyperlinked world you are one click away, whether it lives at home or not…as long as we use don’t forget we can also use the CoP as a hub or gateway to all our scattered activity that lives elsewhere.
How are others doing tasks so they don’t create noise for the rest of the community?
NOTE: I’m aware of (but haven’t used) project/task sites like Central Desktop, 37 Signals, Wrike, etc…but at the moment I’m getting a feel for how a CoP deals with tasks, rather than an additional vendor.
But I still will be interested in how people are using a CoP like Clearspace together with a project/task tool like Central Desktop…I’m aware they do have overlapping features.
The point of this post is do we need to deal with two products, one for communities and one for tasks?