Now, that we have our sponsors, Sue & Tom, let's make it real !
EDS Knowledge Management department was providing support to Communities of Practices : a documented process with several steps, roles, activities, input, output, tools (mainly a mailing list), governance and a forum for community leaders to share ideas and knowledge.
This made easier the creation of a community and it was a formal recognition of role of Communities within the Corporation.
On this other side, EDS could keep an eye on the Communities and influence them, injecting some Corporate objectives and values.
One of the key best practice when first creating a community, is the leadership. It should be legitimate within the Corporation and among the future community members. This is key in a Corporation since leaders make the necessary link between the bazaar and the cathedral.
Charles, who was leading EDS midrange servers hosting services, was our first community leader. Charles was an "old EDSer", able to understand EDS strategy and thus discuss with top management. Moreover, Charles' team was running most of the Linux and Unix systems for EDS clients.
We formed a coreteam with whom we thought were the most legitimate people :
- Mark : leader of Linux on Mainframe activities
- Franco : Charles counterpart in EMEA
- Erik : the Knowledge Management group representative
- Jean-Yves : the energy guy
We defined our objectives and published them on the "Corporate Community wall". It took us some times to formulate it through several, simple items. But I know believe we could have done it easier if we would just have agreed on the main objective : "promote open source software within EDS".
I have learned 2 main things at this time :
- How important it is to work on both sides - Corporation & Community - when you start building your community. And how important it is to have relays since the beginning because you cannot be everywhere. Forget it ! You need a group of committed people, a coreteam, woking for the same purpose.
- You can define any objective, publish it anywhere, what count at the end of the day is what you do ! So, decide with your coreteam what you want to achieve, say it simply and do it !
One element to also take into consideration is the leadership change that can happen because people are leaving the company. I will write more on this subject later but you should consider it from the beginning. There is little chance a Community in a Corporation can survive if the only leader is leaving. You need to reach the right level of maturity
and at least a Collaborative Leadership... and few more tricks.