Community Evangelism and Leadership

I started blogging less than a year ago and have gone through the normal stages that bloggers go through as they find their voice. I meet new friends, enemies, spammers, marketers, co-workers, competitors, or potential employers almost every day through my blog. Sometimes I enjoy the conversation, and other times, well it can be a bit difficult.

Part of what prompted me to start blogging was the work that Jeremiah Owyang had been doing at HDS. He was successfully getting internal folks talking to the community, and well, I think EMC has more to offer in the information management space, so I decided to talk about it. The response was somewhat overwhelming, I talked about anything that was on my mind (including new EMC stuff that wasn’t confidential) and things that were going on around me (like interesting messaging and collaboration technologies)…..and in return I got to meet all the people who shared my interests or disagreed with my interests (including the debate about EMC blogging). Yes, moving EMC into an accepting organization of blogging is a long way from the DG crowd…that well, truly does describe the New England contingent (sorry guys)….But change is constant and the ratio of ex-DG/DEC folks to normal people is much better these days!! Because of that, the ideology is changing and blogging is acceptable. I know that I played a part in what is today www.emc.com/news/blog and I hope that this level of interaction with the community increases.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to the press dinner at EMC World and Jeremiah pointed out that it was because I was an influencer….and a Community Evangelist!

When in the world did I become an influencer and a community evangelist? I have no idea…..

……Does this mean that I have some greater level of responsibility to EMC, Microsoft, or the community? Does this mean that I get a pay increase? Does this mean that I am an A-List Blogger?

Not really, it really doesn’t mean a whole lot…..except of course that I have a new appreciation for my writing, the web, and corporate communications. Lucky for you I am not going to go work full time at any of these niche companies who tried to recruit me through my blog….and I’m not going to pick up and move to EMC Corporate……or pick up and go to some startup in the Valley……I am going to keep blogging about whatever seems interesting to me…..hopefully it continues to be interesting to everyone else so that we can all benefit from the experience.

I am also going to start thinking of myself as a Community Evangelist (thanks Jeremiah) and see if that holds any weight anywhere!! Although I think there is one thing that Jeremiah has missed in his countless insights into community programs….the value of distributed community ownership!!

By Distributed Community Ownership, I mean that communities need leaders, and big communities need more than one leader (or a distributed leader model….you know like the government but less corrupt and better with the vision thing). When you look at large companies like Microsoft, EMC, or IBM, you see a lot of different things happening, software development, hardware development, services development…..blah, blah, blah (go read Chuck’s blog if you want to hear that story)…..With all of these different things happening within the company more than one community pops up. For example, I personally interact with the EMC community that is interested in email and collaboration (because email and collaboration is where I personally get satisfaction). So that means I miss the Oracle crowd, the zOS crowd, the RSA security crowd, and all the other niche communities that pop up around certain sets of technologies. Each of these niche communities needs strong leadership. They need a strong voice that can interact with the community, yet give the same insight into the larger community (the corporation’s community) that any other niche leader would.

As an example……. The storage anarchist gives an incredible depth and debate on topics that relate to spindles, RAID protections, and the like. While Chuck gives an incredible depth and debate on the EMC informationist strategy. Then Mark, well Storagezilla, he gives us…..the best of the best, a unique insight into the many technical facets that are becoming the new EMC. If you read any of the three blogs, they all give a similar message though. You hear the same underlying vision that EMC is taking. Yet this does not necessarily hold true for all corporate blog entities….

Look at Microsoft….some X thousand bloggers strong, all fighting with each other about who is the next Scoble. Well….um, I’m sure 500 blog entries about the next orca CTP will be a thrilling read, but they will all say the same thing. The thing that some corporate PR nanny asked them to say….they are all getting played by one of those influence the influencer bits out of some blog strategy book the pr team read. So yes, the message is the same…..but it’s not unique enough to be interesting to a specific crowd, it’s not catered to the niche community that any one blogger has built…..and it’s certainly not assisted in a way that fosters similar messages in unique scenarios.

A strong community leader is much better at building a community of the distributed leaders that own the niche communities that naturally evolve within a corporation’s space.  Notice I didn’t say the community leader runs the whole community….and I didn’t say the community leader manages or influences the real niche leaders…..I did say that the community leader builds a community out of the niche community leaders within a company. Obviously this isn’t necessary as the size of the company gets smaller….but as size and product space increases, the niche communities increase, and the need for an over-arching community evolves to get information like what the other communities are doing and what is the corporation doing to enable community involvement during in-person events (like conferences etc).

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One Response to “Community Evangelism and Leadership”

  1. Jeremiah Owyang Says:

    It’s wonderful to see that EMC is still opening up, I know the challenges that you’re facing and it’s rewarding. What’s the reward? When customers thank you for listening and talking to them in an open manner (that’s why comments are important!)

    I look forward to seeing EMC continuing to build community, you know where to reach me if you need help.

    Fight the good fight!

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