So you got the final sign-off on your MROC and are anxious to get your community launched… One of the first things you’ll want to do (if you haven’t already) is figure out who you want involved in your “core team” for the initiative, and how large you want your team to be. This is a trickier decision than it seems, and here’s why:
- “Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen” – The big risk is to have too many people involved. This will inevitably cloud your objectives and force you to explore a wider range of topics than perhaps are appropriate for your community. The conversation is more likely to jump erratically from topic-to-topic as you serve the needs of a large group of stakeholders, leading to frustration among your community members and higher attrition rates.
- Too Few New Ideas – The flip side of having “too many cooks in the kitchen” is having too few people on your core team. In this case, you risk running out of ideas for relevant topics to explore. You also have fewer internal cheerleaders helping you to market key insights broadly across the organization. While communities will generate topics on their own that you didn’t think to explore (and your vendor should be helping here as well), having a decent size core team in place will ensure you always have a set of valuable business questions to address in your community.
- Narrow Attention Spans & Confirmation Bias – Anyone who has been part of a large scale traditional focus group study has probably witnessed the executive who walks into the backroom of a focus group, leaves after one or two groups (of many) and then feels they’ve seen enough to know the results for the entire study. The same thing can happen in a MROC. The risk is that a stakeholder randomly logs in to your community for 20 minutes and begins to draw conclusions based on a small subset of the feedback.
So who should you invite, and what’s the “right” number of people to include? In my experience, it’s useful to think of two levels to your core team:
- The first level has direct access to the feedback by virtue of a client observer login to the community. If you have a dedicated insights or innovation function that is leading the charge, then one or two key members of this function should be the ones to have this type of access. These should be the team members who will have quality time each week to spend with the community, and who know not to draw early conclusions from select activities.
- The second level of your “core team” won’t have this direct observer access to the community, but they will still stay involved in ongoing conversations around topics to explore, might be involved in your weekly meetings and will be among the first to see the findings. If necessary, guided tours of the community will help these individuals understand how things are progressing.
The “right” number will vary based on your organization. In my experience, having about 7-8 people on the core team in total, with 1 or 2 having direct access to the site itself, is a “manageable” team size. Similarly, the “who” will vary based on who is funding the community, your objectives and goals, and organizational structure. A cross-functional team with members from marketing, product development, customer service, etc. will ensure that you get the maximum value from your community as possible.
There are broader industry regulations that might go into this equation which are too complex to go into here (plus, I’m not a lawyer), but these are some general guidelines for setting up a core team and controlling access to your MROC.
What has worked for your company? Comments are welcome!