Collaborating on Community with Community

For two days last week myself and the other CollabNet community managers brainstormed ideas, shared experiences, and drove direction for an Enterprise Community "Cookbook". Over the course of time, it has come to the managers attention that written processes were needed, problems shared, and solutions derived and pulled together into a single resource area, not just for ourselves but the community at large.

Communities should, after all, be based on collaboration to be successful and healthy. No single person can accomplish this, nor should they. At CollabNet, collaboration has been its theme and foundation from its inception, so it only made sense that we share our processes and findings with anyone who can benefit from our experience and knowledge. The flip side of that is that we hope to get input and feedback, and have collaboration with other community managers.

We started our discussions by comparing the Open Source community with the Enterprise community, and identified the commonalities. This turned up some fascinating information about the nature of the communities themselves, and their needs. Next, we discussed community goals, and what right kinds of questions would provide intelligent types of metrics. So far, I was seeing the value of our strategies not just for Enterprise communities but for Open Source communities as well.

Over the course of the two days, we had covered the walls with large sheets of paper, which contained many sticky notes from each of us. All of this now has to be distilled into formats that would be easy to understand to outsiders.

We realized that before any community, Enterprise or Open Source, can be built, a community plan must be written out. This would help our sales people communicate to customers what they get when they request community managerial support, but also what we hope to achieve with our Open Source community and what we are to give in return.

Our first document to take shape that others can use is Best Practices and Steps to Creating an Enterprise Development Community. Many other documents will emerge from our meeting. As we complete them, we will add them to our public project where you can glean from what we post there.

We also agreed that all of this information is fluid, subject to change, and must be rejiggered with various clients and communities. None of these documents are intended to be written in stone, or will be the last word on the topic. It's an evolutionary process, and we decided to meet at least once a year to reassess and rewrite process as needed.

As the openCollabNet Community Manager, I would like to distill the useful information and processes that are specific to creating Open Source communities, so we end up with "cookbooks" for both Open Source communities and Enterprise communities, or we may create branches off of the other information.

However we decide to present the information, watch this blog space and Twitter for links to these documents as we make them available.

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