Rally Your Community: How to Ensure Your Community Doesn’t Fizzle Out
As we covered here, You can’t deliver success on your own.
Great, so now that we have established that, let’s look at how you are going to ensure you have the support that you need to create a High Value PMO. In particular, let’s look at Project Communities. An effective community ensures ongoing growth and relevance for any PMO. So, let’s explore the key components to building an attractive and sustainable community (i.e., one that doesn’t fall apart after just 2 weeks!)
The Essence of A Great Community
It might surprise you, but I can differentiate between communities that succeed and those that don’t in just one sentence. And if you have read this post then you should be able to as well.
The key difference between communities that succeed and those that don’t is the net balance of the value offering. i.e. They create slant towards positive on the below equation:
A typical PMO community falls flat because it doesn’t stack the Value Equation in its favour. In other words, the events and benefits of the community don’t outweigh the effort required to turn up, delay work, and persevere through awkward conversations.
So how do we stack the equation?
A Rewarding Community
There are 3 key avenues to boost the ‘reward’ column of your community’s Value Equation:
Your community can’t be open to everyone. Counter-intuitively there needs to be barriers to entry. While these may not necessarily be financial (although they can be), a minimum criteria underpinning community acceptance is crucial. While this does increase the pain of access, it also ensures that the community consists of the right people. For a PMO Community that means targeting professionals who are actively interested in the community’s success.
With exclusivity we safeguard against dilution of value. We raise the lowest common denominator, which in turn, raises the value of the content you can and should explore. Exclusivity also sets your community up nicely to maximise the next two reward avenues.
Your community must be held in high regard. It must be synonymous with success. The idea here is that anyone involved in your community receives a reputation boost simply by being connected to it. One of the best ways to achieve this is to identify high performers within your organisation and enlist them.
You should also put effort into leveraging popular and impressive names from the industry and have them speak to your members. You will increase your members’ reputation just by correlating your community’s name with a market leader. You want your members to be able to casually drop humblebrags like:
“My mind is spinning. I still can’t believe I got to meet the head of NASA’s rocket program at the PMO Community Event yesterday!”
In short – you must provide ways for your community members to have a genuine advantage over those who aren’t members.
There is nothing worse than boring content. Want people to stop contributing to the community? Feed them yet another session on how to track capital expenses or the value of a change request.
Content must be interesting. Instead of a session on the value of a change request – what about a session on ‘How to avoid and shortcut our change request process’?
Can’t come up with anything interesting? Ask an author to come talk. Or approach an industry legend. In other words – don’t be afraid to outsource it. Worst case, I’m sure there’s a consulting firm out there that would happily pull together the newest project management trends for you every quarter and present on it.
The point here is simple. Don’t be boring. Don’t just say the same old tired things. If you have pursued both of the Exclusivity and Reputation avenues, then you will have a membership of high performers.
Help them be even better.
A Few More Notes On Project Community:
Now, before we close this talk of community, here are a few other notes you should seriously consider.
- Your Community should have a brand. Something memorable and easy to verbally share. Your imagination really is the limit here, but as always, remember that simplicity is key.
- Maximise availability for members. Make the community hard to get into, but open and easy once you are in. Feel free to leverage the many social tools within your organisation here. MS Teams, Facebook for Workplace, etc.
- Opt for more impressive events, less often, rather than less impressive events, more often.
- There is massive value in connectivity. Not just to industry superstars, but also between organisational superstars. Create opportunities for their connection (without holding yet another networking event… *YAWN*).
- Ensure the small details are congruent with the image you’re building. If your community is exclusive and has a high reputation – don’t just put together the cheapest venues and food options. No one wants yet another Costco platter. However, a breakfast event at the local Hyatt – now that’s another story.
- Give the community the time and investment it deserves. DON’T take on a community unless you have the ability to adequately support and promote it. This means at least a part time role allocation within your team and an appropriately sized budget to put behind it. You will have to spend money on this to succeed.
- Also, everyone thinks of a ‘Project Management’ community. But surely Project Manager’s aren’t your only client group. Consider how community (or communities) can best serve your entire client base.