this responsibility as a temporary part of someone’s work
day or offer extra pay for taking on this job. The Community Manager might send announcements to the Community when new information becomes available, query the
Community on new topics, create a newsletter, open out/
announce blogs and decide on useful or interesting links.
You may be surprised by those who volunteer. Philip
Hesketh reminds that we all want to be loved and important—needed and valued—and we all want to belong, so
those who have unfilled needs may come forth.
Keep in mind that the best first Community Manager is
you, as you will set the pace and provide implicit endorsement for participation.
Plan in Advance for Organic Growth
Biomedical research can seem like a Catch-22: at once a
contentious field and a chance to celebrate findings that
have no other way to emerge. The initial stage is a close-ly-held focus on a topic that will draw on many points
of view and naturally, will open out new questions. Any
good strategic plan comprises assumptions about the
second and successive customer groups and the messages likely to engage them. The same is true here: the
initial focus is likely to lead to new questions.
As the first Community Manager, you can decide when
to open out a second focus, and, from there, turn things
over to the next Community Manager.
OTHER THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Resist the temptation to use an online community to
foster your own interests. Take into account the interests,
concerns and personality of your employees, and keep
in mind that this is community building that allows you
to learn about the community of people who work with
you rather than community building that fosters any one
Mr Hesketh says that people need to learn and grow,
give to others and have a sense of place that feels familiar
and ongoing. Your workplace Online Community could
fulfil those needs while building loyalty, trust, commitment and excitement about being at work. That could
be especially useful for a multi-site campus, a multi-insti-tution/multi-national research effort and for those who
•;Philip Hesketh www.heskethtalking.co.uk
Helen Kelly is an ALN World Contributing Editor. She
divides her time between Boston and London. Helen is always happy to hear from readers. HelenKellyLtd@aol.com
You want to engage people in discussion and debate that
depends for its vitality on evidence. Passion can be productive, above all when backed up by fact.
Roll Out With Content in Place
Before you announce and roll out, populate the Community Home Page with comments, articles, ideas that you
gather ahead of time—published at the new site with
permission of the first contributors, of course.As Oracle
points out, nothing is more discouraging than an empty
Community page. That is oxymoronic, to be sure.
Roll out with your own views, along with those from
a variety of employees with differing opinions, and post
them, with permission, before you go live. As Oracle
points out, the first impression matters. You want people
to be excited and tell others, not wonder why anyone
spent the time.
Provide Serious, Debatable Issues and Content-rich
Keep to ideas that foster engagement—questions to
which there are no right answers; questions which require some background rather than emotional reactions.
As Philip Hesketh points out, people need a balance of
certainty and uncertainty in their lives; that is, something
to believe in and take for granted as true, yet also things
that keep us at the edge of our seats waiting to see what
Here are a few examples:
•;Views on keeping sensitive documents in the
cloud vs. the ground
•;Criteria for introducing or upgrading robotics
•;Introducing exercise/yoga at work
Roll Out With Your Own Views as Well as Others
If you want to lead a learning organisation, lead the way.
Your own open, thoughtful, perhaps controversial comments and questions will sanction the same from others.
If you express views that are open and forthright—if
you present assumptions that you support with some
evidence, or if your views are clearly debatable—all that
sets the cultural tone and fosters a true community of
viewpoints. In that way, you engage members right from
Plan for a Community Manager
It is useful to have a Community Manager. That position
could rotate among interested parties and across different
campuses or country settings. You may decide to include