Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Building Vibrant Virtual Communities of Practice

Change is constant. The rate of change is accelerating exponentially. For example, the internet has significantly increased the volume of information accessible to the human race, and the rate of change in storage capacity and transmission speed is fantastically explosive. All the while, the sheer volume of technology platforms and information system solutions available for data sharing are becoming mind-numbingly immense. Too further complicate matters, the half-life of these tools is increasingly shorter and shorter - just as one learns how to navigate and master one technology, a new disruptive technology emerges.

At the same time, we see fewer and fewer employers sending its employees to conferences and seminars. Web conferencing, webstreams, and blended learning models are becoming the norm. The younger generations who grew up on video games, text messaging, and video chats are much more likely to use one or more of the social media sites available today.

So, as a quality professional trying to serve all generations in all corners of the world, what social media tools have you found most beneficial? In his latest ASQ blog post, Paul Borawski asks, "... which online communities [we] take part in for professional networking with others in quality."

Do you have a social media strategy to maximize your communications efficiency and effectiveness?

I work for a large, multinational, diverse manufacturing company. I have also had the pleasure to lead the ASQ Statistics Division and the ASQ Minnesota Section - ASQ's largest section.  I have used a wide assortment of digital communication tools over my 33 years in 3M; 25+ years in ASQ. For example, the ASQ Statistics Division was one of the very first ASQ divisions to embrace the internet. We had the very first ASQ electronic bulletin / discussion boards - pre-dating the world wide web and the advent of websites. We quickly became one of the first ASQ divisions to host its own website - long before ASQ.  The ASQ Statistics Division also maintains the "Statistical Thinking" blog.

Similarly, I believe the Minnesota ASQ section website (mnasq.org) is a best practice amongst section sites, built on the powerful, customizable and configurable WorldPress platform. The Section's social media strategy includes an active LinkedIn group with seeded discussions and job postings, a Twitter account, a Facebook fan page, and YouTube channel - all positioned to drive traffic to the section website. The MNASQ section is transitioning away from SharePoint to Google Apps to better coordinate and align our various committee activities, calendars and communications. The MNASQ section also delivers ASQ certification exam preparation classes via instructor-led web conferencing in an effort to better serve our remote section members and non-members, inside and beyond our section borders. The MNASQ Section leadership is currently developing its first "un-conference" targeted specifically to the young quality professional.

I have been active in social media since the mid-1990's thanks to my involvement with the ASQ Statistics Division leadership. Like the MN ASQ section, I, "QualityBob", (U.S. trademarked) have a website, blog, Facebook fan page, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr accounts and a YouTube channel (along with Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram, and more).  I am currently learning how to create professional videos using Camtasia software and green screen technology. My plan is to produce and publish a series of 2-minute "Quality Shorts" video blogs within 3M. Research has shown that short videos draw more interest, resulting in more conversation, than emails and written blogs. I am also experimenting with Google+ Hangouts where sessions can be recorded and automatically uploaded to YouTube.

Data privacy and security is a large concern for anyone planning a significant presence on the internet. Practice safe internet browsing by utilizing VPNs and viewing 'https:' sites whenever possible, maintaining strong passwords, and constantly updating your antivirus and anti-spyware definitions.

How do I find the time to pursue all these hobbies, participate on various professional organizations, volunteer in my community, and still excel at my job you ask? Well, my children are grown and my lovely wife is very supportive of my pursuits. She is constantly amazed by my passion for quality, by how much I love my job and what I do. Besides possessing a passion for the subject matter and a thirst for learning and sharing, a key success factor to developing a viable virtual community of practice is to develop and flawlessly deploy a comprehensive social media strategy. Good program and project management skills are paramount. Project management is an important skill for the certified manager of quality & organizational excellence (CMQ/OE) - and, oh by the way - the next CMQ exam is  scheduled for October 5, 2013.  Have you registered for the CMQ/OE certification exam preparation class in your area? Classes start on or around August 1...


  1. Vitally important stuff. Bob, thanks for posting.

  2. Nice blog thanks for shearing this types of blog about social networking website and social media website.

  3. thnx for the information..
    blog is really gud,for more information you can visit here
    Social Communities

  4. Yeah its a good article. According to you what we project managers do is communicating. And a lot of this communication is done during project meetings. It can sometimes feel like you are running from one meeting to another and that your time is often wasted. Meetings don’t start on time, the issues aren’t dealt with, there is no agenda, there is no focus, nobody assigns any follow ups or tasks and of course then they also don’t end on time. An efficient project manager is required for the good management of a project. I think a project manager should PMP certified. Looking forwards to apply what I learned in PMP classes in my company.