July 4th, 2022 | From our CEO
Nowadays, many companies address the obvious limitations and shortcomings of their formal structures and processes by embracing a more loosely tightened type of organizational structures based on ‘Communities of Expertise’ or ‘Communities of Practice’.
Most of these communities will fail on their purpose. This article explains why based on the 50% rule of communities.
For the very same reason as the formal structures and processes have failed on delivering their purpose:
Communities are far too often organized and managed with the same top-down “I know it all”-approach as the many on-the-paper intelligent organizational redesigns that have failed over the last century.
This is why it is vital to know the ’50% Rule of Communities’.
In the past years, clients have asked Innovisor to help them to making their communities more coherent, to strengthen their ability to share knowledge and best practices across and outlining the actions towards a better and more efficient community set-up.
In a recent case story we shared on communities here on LinkedIn, we stated that about half of the community was unknown to the leadership. This was clearly one of the main reasons why it was difficult to manage the community and make it successful. Then someone commented on this insight:
‘this case story is consistent with the ‘50% Rule for Communities.
This comment puzzled me and the Innovisor team! We are nerdy, when it comes to data and insights on networks and communities – I guess you can say we love facts – so we decided to verify in our data, if the 50% rule for communities really existed.
It did! But it was a minimum 50% rule!
So, why is it you fail with your communities, if you don’t accept the ‘50% Rule of Communities’ – and think you know it all.
Here are a few examples of practices, we have seen of communities failing due to this lack of acceptance of the ‘50% Rule of Communities’:
- You only engage a limited part of the communities, and mostly the wrong part.
Innovisor insight: No leaders have ever guessed who has the real informal influence in a community, so be humble and ask!
- You invest in building the capabilities of the one half of the community you know.
Innovisor insight: You do not necessarily know the critical half of the community. About half of the people in the community will then continue working in ways, you do NOT want them to
- You do not know, who holds the community together.
Innovisor insight: In most cases, it is only 2-3 people holding everything together in the community. If you do not know them, you do not know who to retain. And if they leave the community performance drops
- You do not know the real experts.
Innovisor insight: The “word-of-mouth” in the organization often tells people who to seek out for advice, when they need to solve a critical issue. These people are only the same as you have handpicked yourself in 50% of the cases. Hence, you work against the organizational intelligence – not with it if you enforce your own leaders
- Communities are often full of generalists, and do not have the time available to become real specialists.
Innovisor insight: You need to discipline time allocation and role by community member to realize its full value
Communities hold a lot of potential for many organizations, but they need to be led. To lead them you need to know their full scope – and accept that you can only find out by asking the community, who they are working with.
If you do not, you expose yourself to the ‘50% Rule of Communities’ and will be on the fast-track to failure!
A Special thank you to Maradene Wills for sparking our interest in this topic!
Orginally posted by Jeppe Vilstrup Hansgaard on https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/50-rule-communities-jeppe-vilstrup-hansgaard/