Same Challenges, Different Contexts

Doing things that don’t have a benefit are often difficult to justify for work – the workplace equivalent of taking a moment to sit down and read a few chapters of Gulliver’s Travels.

This week I went to Swarm, a conference of community managers. I’m not a community manager, and my current challenges don’t necessarily relate to those who are responsible for an online community. However, as an outsider at a conference about community (something that is, by definition, inclusive), it was a fascinating experience. If you ever get the chance, go to a conference on a topic you know very little about – it’s a real eye opener!

Same Challenges

Caty Kobe took a session on measurement and return on investment, which centred around the use of dashboards for reporting. Well at least that’s what it said on the flyer. It actually ended up being a masterclass in business communication. There are some really simple things you can do to make your message clearly understood in your company, and we were taken through a number of really effective techniques.

One theme that seemed to keep resurfacing was look at the way your boss presents the information you give them. At its very core, this is about tailoring a message to your audience – a problem faced in almost any facet of business. Another theme that was strongly echoed by a number of speakers was around change management.

[Note to Caty (and anyone else reading) – if you ever hear I’ve become “that” executive who could only find 15 minutes in their day to discuss a document that represents someone’s value and purpose in the company, please remind me to hand in my resignation. At that point I’ve clearly failed to uphold my responsibilities as a leader. And probably also as a human being.]

Different Context

Some of the most valuable lessons were from quotes that perhaps meant one thing to community managers, but I took in an entirely different way. Luke Buckle made a great point about how small group functionality is helping Houzz, using the words “tiered” and “collaboration”. As someone creating an innovation product, the combination of those two words sparks, at least in my mind, a whole range of crazy and unconventional methods to generate new ideas.

Thank you Luke, even though I’m sure you didn’t ever intend your words to be taken to places so far away from where you intended they provide meaning.

Well done Venessa Paech and Alison Michalk for organising Swarm, and I’m sure it will go from strength to strength. Especially if you push the boundaries of your audience and find a superfan who isn’t a community manager themselves.