How to build an online Leadership Community of Practice

Security, Confidentiality, Community Governance

Phil Dourado explains how your online leadership development community needs to be private, secure and a way to gather your organizations 'leadership capital', while monitoring and policing the potential for inappropriate contributions.

Leadership community rules of engagement

You will need governance rules for your community - rules of engagement that you agree with members before they participate - and a monitoring system to catch anything inappropriate.

A self-policing community with a light touch 24x7 monitoring capability from my team worked for us in the online community we ran for eight years for IHG.

I have a team of five, based at various times in the UK, Malaysia and Australia and we used a 'follow the sun' system to cover all timezones, with one facilitator/monitor 'on duty', receiving every post and comment as it was added to the community.

A community of 1500, spending a maximum of five minutes a day each in the community (the average over eight years was around 4 minutes and 30 seconds per member per visit) means that, in a 24 hour period, at any one time, you will get tens of members at most online.

Monitoring your leadership community

So, a fast monitoring system that can quickly adjust or take down anything inappropriate, plus the small number of 'eyes' on any new content in the first few minutes of it being in the community means we had pretty close control, while enabling the community to run freely.

We didn't moderate comments: community members were free to post those in real-time. In practice, you could, as with some blog and comment sites, turn on the delay switch that allows a moderator to review and post each comment. Over eight years, we didn't get a single inappropriate comment. Though we did get plenty of disagreement and constructive tough conversations - which is exactly what you want.

The system can sit inside your intranet, protected from the outside world that way, and governed by your existing corporate IT security protocols and only be open to its members, via password. Or it can sit on a password protected area of the net if you prefer; as with the intranet, we'd work with your corporate IT people to ensure our community conforms to your organisation's security protocols.


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