Last year I joined the Community Roundtable, which is a virtual roundtable run by community gurus Rachel Happe and Jim Storer. The roundtable was designed specifically for professionals who work for or with online communities. This week the Community Roundtable released a new study called State of Community Management – 2010 from Recognition to Exploration. They cover a variety of topics from strategy and leadership to metrics and governance. The topic that captured my attention the most is the one of culture. I’d like to share an excerpt from the study:
“Cultures of organizations, families, regions, and communities are based on how, why, when, and who tells its stories. Characteristics of storytelling are what define the cultural norms and accepted truths. Cultural patterns are determined by:
- Rigidity of who can tell stories to which other members of the group in various settings
- Level of accepted humor, self-depreciation, sarcasm, and hyperbole
- Defined vs. organic times to tell stories
- Amount of literal descriptions vs. symbolic representation
- Level of formal structure to stories vs. free-flowing form
- How unknown factors in the environment are explained and addressed
- Language, terms, and mechanisms used
…The goal is not to replicate the culture of the organization within the community, but to understand where the boundaries of tone and acceptable topics are – and how much flexibility will be accepted in that regard. However, an artifact of a strong community is that it will have some unique cultural elements that are different from the environment outside of the community. This community culture evolves over time and should be cultivated as it binds the members to the community….”
As I read through the findings, I kept thinking about the culture at SAP and the culture at SCN and how they are both evolving and influencing each other.SCN has just surpassed the 2 Million member mark, an achievement that we can all be proud of. I believe that the rapid growth in our membership, tons of quality contributions every day, and the sharing and relationship building that our community fosters are all indicators that the SCN culture has evolved in a positive way. And SCN has been great for SAP.
I wonder, though, when I look at the second bullet point, “level of accepted humor, etc.” How can we encourage more humor to SCN? Maybe it’s not the first thing that comes to mind as a goal for a professional community centered around a large software company… but wouldn’t it be great if we had more of it?
As Dwight Eisenhower put it: “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done” So, there is a serious side to humor also. 🙂