From The Art Of Community by O'Reilly (http://www.artofcommunityonline.org) by Jono Bacon
Getting Buy-In for Your Processes
The first step in making a process work for your community is to ensure it is documented. The goal here is efficiency. Sure, anyone can write a detailed list of steps outlining how a process works, but who wants to read paragraphs and paragraphs of text? The documentation behind a process should be as close as possible to a cooking recipe: do this...do that...get this result. The emphasis here is on quick, clear, straight-to-the-point directions.
Processes are fundamentally a collection of steps with an outcome.
To get you started, let’s get introspective for a while and document your own steps for writing a process:
- First, write down the end goal of your process. What does it achieve?
- Now, in numerical and chronological order, write down each step in your process, using a single word to describe each step.
- Finally, for each word, write a single sentence that clearly explains what is involved in the step.
When following through with this approach, always read and reread each step, and assess how easy it is to understand. Is it written concisely? Does it use too much jargon? Would it be suitable as an elevator pitch?
Make Them Easy to Find
Processes don’t have any value when no one knows that they exist. In addition to ensuring that your processes are clearly written, you should work hard to ensure that they are discoverable. Our goal here is to ensure that community members can find our documented processes easily.
This is a two-step approach:
- You need to put your documentation somewhere online that people can refer to.
- You need to inform your community about additions and changes to the documentation when they happen.
Using Your Processes
With the process documented and announced, the final step is to encourage your community to make use of it. Documentation and announcements are no guarantee your community will make use of a process. In my experience, every process needs a certain amount of manual pushing and poking to become the norm.
Communities generally follow by example: members look toward other people to engage with processes before they do it themselves. You need to put a few examples of successful use of each process in place as a head start to get the community to accept the processes.
A useful approach is to pick four or five key community members and ensure that they are fully behind the process that you have announced. You should regularly check in with these members to ensure that they are making use of the process, and when they are not, you should check why and remind them where needed. You should also encourage these key members to spread their best practices throughout the community.
You should also identify incidents that act as opportunities to reaffirm the purpose of the process. This could be handled in two ways. On one hand, you should find success stories: examples that used the process with very positive results. These examples are always fantastic to show off. On the other hand, when someone doesn’t follow the process and things go wrong, you can use it as a chance to remind your community about the purpose of the process. Do tread this line with caution: you should absolutely not show up your community members in front of others, and you should try not to climb up on your high horse and send out an “I told you so!” message.