An Update on the Online Community Unconference 2013 #OCU2013

ocu2013_2

I wanted to provide a quick update regarding the Online Community Unconference that we are putting together in Mountain View on May 21. It has been an amazing experience to reconvene the “community of community managers” that were first brought together during the period Forum One hosted these events, and inspiring to see the new members of the community: both practitioners and organizations that are embracing the art and science of building and sustaining online communities.

We are currently just shy of 100 registrants, with a target of 200. We have an amazing group of organizations and industry experts registered, including leaders from:

  • Answers.com
  • Autodesk
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Brandle
  • Ebay
  • George Lucas Education Foundation
  • Google
  • Intuit
  • Lithium
  • Mozilla
  • Netbase
  • Ning
  • Salesforce.com
  • SAP
  • WestEd
  • Wikia

and many more.

We will also be joined by independent practitioners, industry analysts and authors that are deeply invested in and knowledgable about the community space, including:

The OCU is shaping up to be a fantastic day of learning, sharing and networking. If you haven’t had a chance to register, you can find more info here:
Online Community Unconference 2013 Registration

I hope to see you all on May 21st at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View!

 

Using Unconference in the Enterprise – Manifesting Social Business

My theory on Unconferences (and other participant-driven events) is pretty simple: put smart and passionate people in a room to talk about a common cause with some light facilitation and good things generally happen. Along with all the great knowledge-sharing and network-building that typically happens, an Unconference can be one of the key catalysts for the culture change needed to evolve to a more social business:  a day of suspended organizational hierarchy, authentic communication (no PPTs), collaboration, learning and relationship development.

I’ve been a huge believer in participant-driven events since I started hosting Online Community Roundtables in the summer of 1995, and I was first  introduced to the concept of an Unconference by Jim Cashel of Forum One a couple of years later. I went on to work for Jim and host a series of Unconferences about Social Media and Online Community. When I came to work at Dell, I saw an opportunity to do an Unconference series as a compliment to our social media training and strategy development efforts.

At Dell, we’ve hosted 5 SMaC Talk Unconference events globally, with locations including Dell HQ in Round Rock, TX, Bangalore, Xiamen and London over the last 18 months, with thousands of Dell employees representing most departments and all levels in the organization participating. Michael Dell even came to close our very first Unconference event – we are clearly invested in the format as an organization.

When I facilitate the events, I promise participants two key things:
1. They will leave the event with a long list of new ideas to put into practice immediatly, and
2. They will leave the event with an extended network of practitioners to collaborate with, learn from and gain support from in their day to day efforts.

Agenda Wall from Dell's Summer 2011 Unconference in Round Rock, TX

So, what is an Unconference?
An Unconference is a participant-driven event, where the attendees actually create the agenda. The methodology to create and facilitate an Unconference is drawn from Open Space Technology – a methodology first developed by Harrison Owen and subsequently shaped by the global community of facilitators.

An Unconference (or Open Space event) differs radically from a traditional conference in a number of different ways, including:

  • Attendees are responsible for creating the agenda
  • Speakers and sessions are not pre-programmed (although they do relate to the Unconferences theme)
  • The agenda is malleable – sessions can be suggested or changed throughout the day
  • After the agenda is set, the day is self guided – attendees are personally responsibility for getting the most out of the day

So, how does this Unconference thing work? The intention of the Open Space format is to remove the constraints and restrictions of “normal” conferences and to allow maximum creative thinking.

One of the most amazing parts of the day is the topic selection process. At the start of the morning, any attendee who wishes can come forward, announce a topic, and claim one of the ~50+ open slots on the grid.

Attendees announce session topics

Announcing topics - image courtesy of Forum One

The agenda begins to form

Image courtesy Forum One

Within about 35-40 minutes the grid fills up with topics

Image courtesy Forum One

Once all the topics are announced, we begin the Unconference sessions. The agenda grid plays the role of gathering place and ideamarketplace throughout the day, as attendees come back to the agenda to check for any updates, changes, or new sessions.

How can Unconference be used in the Enterprise?
Unconferences tend to be very effective when there is a large group of knowledgeable people struggling with a complex problem set. Although we’ve primarily used Unconferences for discussions of social media and social business, other likely topics in a large enterprise could be Sustainability, Change Management, Product Development or Brand re-engineering / relaunch.

The Net: An Unconference (using Open Space Technology) can be a great tool for your organization, bringing together diverse groups of people to collaborate and network around common organisational goals. Participants will leave the event with new ideas, new energy, new connections and shared vision and purpose.

Further Reading:

Open Space Technology – By Harrison Owen

OpenSpaceWorld – A community about Open Space Technology

Session Notes from the OC Unconference East (and the wiki is open)

Cross posted from the Online Community Report:

We just opened up the wiki from the Online Community Unconference East, held 2/12 at Baruch College in New York.

The wiki can be found here:
http://www.socialtext.net/ocue2009/ You will find notes for many of the sessions on the wiki, and folks are still adding, so be sure and check back.

In particular, I wanted to highlight a handful of session notes that I thought were particulalry valuable. I woudl encourage you to check out the following:

Social Psychology 101 for Community Managers
Scott Moore, Independent
http://www.socialtext.net/ocue2009/index.cgi?social_psychology_101_for_community_managers

Social Networking in the Enterprise
Cody Burke, Basex
http://www.socialtext.net/ocue2009/index.cgi?social_networking_in_the_enterprise

Twitter for Business
Ron Casalotti,BusinessWeek Digital
http://www.socialtext.net/ocue2009/index.cgi?twitter_for_business

Managing + Motivating Community leaders
Sara Stefanik, Google
http://www.socialtext.net/ocue2009/index.cgi?managing_motivating_community_leaders

Moderation Strategies
Bryan Person, LiveWorld
http://www.socialtext.net/ocue2009/index.cgi?moderation_strategies

Online Community Unconference East – 2009

Our first event of 2009, the Online Community Unconference East is going to be held on February 11 in New York City. We expect 150 online community and social media professionals to attend, and we expect there to be between 30-40 collaborative sessions.

Current attendees include: Google, Edelman, Ebay, Consumer Reports, Deutsche Telekom, iVillage, and others.

To register at the early bird rate of $145 ($195 after 1/19) please go here:
http://ocue2009.eventbrite.com

Last year’s Unconference East was fantastic, and we expect this years to be even better. We had an amazing group in 2008, including:
AOL, MTV, Consumers Union (consumer reports), Cyworld, Business Week, Socialtext, IBM, Mzinga, Spinvox, Twing.com, Salon.com, Harvard Business, MediaBistro, KickApps, HP, TV Guide and Zagat.com.

We also had an amazing list of sessions, including:
– What is necessary to start a successful social network?
– Social Movements/Communities with a Cause:
– Enterprise And Large Organizations Meets Community
– User Managed Communities: where users make the rules
– Community Building: Resources and Considerations
– Virtual Goods 101
– Social Media Optimization
– Customer/Consumer Communities for Co-Innovation
– Twitter Strategies for the Enterprise
– Culture vs. Community: Intention-based content
– Community Analytics: measuring success & failure
– Social Networks: Likes/dislikes and what you want to know
– Virtual Goods and Virtual World Interactions
– Building Enterprise IT: Colloboration & interface to internal systems (using wikis)
– Open ID & other user-centric identity technologies (Higgins, Infocards, SAML)

You can see pictures from the 2008 Unconference here:
http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=ocue2008&w=all&s=int

OCU East 2008 Wiki
The wiki is available if you would like to read the session notes:
http://www.socialtext.net/ocue08/

Register
Again, to register at the early bird rate of $145 ($195 after 1/19) please go here:
http://ocue2009.eventbrite.com

If you currently drive the community or social media strategy for your organization, and you are in (or will be in) the NYC area on 2/11, I would encourage you to come check it out!

We also have several sponsor opportunities open for this Unconference. If you are looking for a cost-effective way to reach NYC community and social media professionals, please contact me about our sponsorship options.

Online Community Unconference 2008 – It’s a wrap!

Cross-posted from the Online Community Report.

The Online Community Unconference was held this Wednesday at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

How was it? In a word? AWESOME.

We had 250 participants from a diverse range of organizations, including Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Linden Lab, SeeqPod, Flickr, LinkedIn, Cisco, Sun and Current TV.

We had a jam packed day (started @ 8:30 and ran until 5:30). The energy was palpable. Check out the short video I shot below of folks reviewing the session grid shortly before session 1.

http://www.flickr.com/photo_embed.gne?id=2593476294&context=set-72157605703221824

Over the course of the day, participants held over 50 sessions about community strategy, UX, management, member engagement and technology.

Session topics included:

  • How do we motivate empowered users to participate positively
  • Worst Case Scenerios – What to do when things go terribly wrong
  • The Numbers Behind Trust – The hidden numbers that govern group dynamics
  • Internationalizing content & community
  • Meet them where they are vs. If you build it they will come
  • Building the Collaboration Ecosystem – All components for community building success
  • Cross Networking Madness – How are niche communities using data portability
  • Community Management 101: How to get started in this big wide world
  • Web 2.0 Components to build B2B Collaborative Communities
  • Community Year One – Phases, Activities, Successes
  • Community Management 2.0 – Success & Failures
  • The platforms for community are SH*T. Discuss
  • Effective Ambassador programs
  • Pulling the plug – how/when/why?

My observations:

It’s 2 days later, and I have to admit my head is still spinning. The quality of content and conversation was high, and there is still a lo of processing I need to do. My genreal impressions were:

This was the “Community Community” coming together.
This was not an event where a few talking heads lectured the masses. This was a gathering of the tribes for those who manage communities and set community strategy on a daily basis.

The conversation has matured. There were far fewer folks that wanted to talk about community 101 this year as compared with last year’s Unconference. Topics were fairly sophisticated and most of the direct feedback I got was that participants were pleased to discover the level of experience represented by the other participants.

The lack of standards is REALLY starting to hurt. Focus is (finally) beginning to shift from islands of communities to the larger community ecosystem. A general lack of standards around nomenclature, metrics, data schemas (including profile structure), profile accessibility and community UX (to raise just a few issues) is starting to come up as a real issue more often. I think we are finally mature enough as an industry to have the discussions as a body of practice (and contribute to and help direct discussions on tactical problems, like Data Portability).

The best resource about online communities is the community of practice. This statement is actually a common thread in all of Forum One Network’s activities. We believe the best and most valuable source of information about building and growing healthy online communities is the body of practitioners.

We will be opening up the Unconference wiki in about a week, and will post highlights of the session notes. In the meantime, lot’s of folks were twittering and blogging. I’ve posted highlights below.

Other Unconference highlights:
http://twemes.com/ocu2008
http://summize.com/search?q=ocu2008
http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=ocu2008
http://www.grimwell.com/?p=211
http://talk.lithium.com/lithium/blog/article?blog.id=lithium&message.id=139#M139

PS: Tasty Snacks = Accomplished!

Online Community Unconference: June 18 in Mountain View

Online Community Unconfernece East: A report back

(This is cross-posted from the Online Community Report)

We had a fantastic OC Unconference East in New York City last Thursday. Over one hundred online community and social media professionals were in attendance, and we had over 40 collaborative sessions. I’ve captured highlights below. I’ve also just opened up the Unconference wiki, so you can check out the session notes for yourself.

Organizations in attendance included:
AOL, MTV, Consumers Union (consumer reports), Cyworld, Business Week, Socialtext, IBM, Mzinga, Spinvox, Twing.com, Salon.com, Harvard Business, MediaBistro, KickApps, HP, TV Guide and Zagat.com.

Sessions ( a partial list)
– What is necessary to start a successful social network?
– Social Movements/Communities with a Cause:
– Enterprise And Large Organizations Meets Community
– User Managed Communities: where users make the rules
– Community Building: Resources and Considerations
– Virtual Goods 101
– Social Media Optimization
– Customer/Consumer Communities for Co-Innovation
– Twitter Strategies for the Enterprise
– Culture vs. Community: Intention-based content
– Community Analytics: measuring success & failure
– Social Networks: Likes/dislikes and what you want to know
– Virtual Goods and Virtual World Interactions
– Building Enterprise IT: Colloboration & interface to internal systems (using wikis)
– Open ID & other user-centric identity technologies (Higgins, Infocards, SAML)

You can see pictures from the Unconference here:

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=ocue2008&w=all&s=int

Wiki
Again, the wiki is now open to the public for reading. We do restrict the right to edit / post to Unconference attendees.
http://www.socialtext.net/ocue08/

Blog posts about the Unconference

Online Community Unconference East – KickApps Blog
Online Community Unconference 2008 – Updates – Modern Metrix Blog
Live Blogging at ForumOne’s Community Unconference 2/21 – Aaron Strout / Mzinga

Next Unconference:
Our next Unconference is the Mobile Communities Unconference March 20 in Palo Alto. If you are interested in exploring the opportunities with community building via mobile devices I would encourage you to come check it out.