Enabling the Collaborative Snowball Effect to Drive Results

I just returned from a wonderful vacation week on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.  I was there for my wife’s reunion.  It was a reunion of people that had been part of Na Kani Pela.  This was a choir that sang liturgical music and Hawaiian songs at masses and then in public concerts around the world between 1974-1978.  It was a wonderful event, with more than 50 people coming together, after 30+ years – most of whom hadn’t spoken in 30 years.  The reunion was not the original catalyst.  It was a result of a snowball effect due to social collaboration over the last 2 years.  I think that it provides us with a good example of how social tools can be used in business to enable a collaborative snowball that drives results.  I’ll tell the story of the Na Kani Pela reunion and then give you a business scenario that is similar yet different.

The Na Kani Pela Reunion Snowball

  • About 2 years ago a few people found each other on Facebook – after 30+ years.  They then sought out others and found them on Classmates.com and other places.  This small group decided to connect principally via Facebook and just starting social conversations.


  • After some time, someone had the idea of having a Na Kani Pela reunion.  The idea of the reunion event was the catalyst for the snowball.  They started to organize the search to find others across the world and connect them into the group via Facebook.


  • It started to shape up and the planning began –primarily done via social collaboration.  A few stalwarts took it upon themselves to lead the effort and organized the details.  The word spread and more people came to join the group and sign up for the event.  With each new person, other lurkers started to come on board.


  • The collaboration continued with random activity, but, the event (the purpose) kept it snowballing.  As the event neared, the activity increased.  Excitement and anticipation was rampant.  


  • Then, last week, 50 people, many with families, spent more than a quarter of a million dollars to travel to Hawaii and participate.  During and after the event, the pictures and videos flowed.  It seems that this group of people, that shared an experience 35 years ago, now, have a new experience, and a tool to continue the conversations into the future.


In sum, for me it was an amazing experience.  First, because of the people and the purpose and how meaningful it was for them and even those of us that were new to Na Kani Pela.  Second, because I was able to watch this snowball happen over the past 2 years and witness the power of social collaboration tools on a personal level.


Enabling Your Snowballs to Occur that Drive Business Results 

So, how does this apply to social business software on SharePoint?  There are differences in purpose, tools, and activity, but, let’s look at how the collaborative snowball effect could work for you leveraging CorasWorks Cim on SharePoint.  I’ll walk through a scenario…

  • A couple of engineers have come up with some cool technology.  They really like it, but, don’t know what the application is and what markets it could serve.  They start posting about it and collaborating within their Engineering community, alongside all of the other activities.


  • This small group then comes up with a couple of application ideas.  They get excited and ask a couple product marketing folks to check it out and see if they like it.  Of course, the pm folks think they can do better and put their ideas and enhancements forward.  They also tap into some “ringers”, those clever/creative idea people they know, to also take a look.  A few pretty good applications ideas now emerge.  At this point the group decides to spin up their own community, lets call it the New Widget community, to take it further.


  • They invite others that are interested.  More and better practical/feasible ideas and applications emerge.  They can now see the possibility of a real new product.  They use the community to flesh out the ideas and keep track.  All of the participants “watch” the community and receive their updates in their Cim Activity Stream.  The snowball effect is happening.


  • They build a prototype and collaborate on which customers to test.  They do the tests and it looks very promising.  They then collaborate to formalize a proposal to get approval and funding.  This proposal is submitted to another New Project Review community.  it goes through the process, involving collaborative management reviews, and gets funding.  During the process it gets even broader visibility, touching the people focused on finance, sales, manufacturing and marketing.


  • The general group continues to collaborate in the Widget community.  They use the community to drive it through engineering, to manufacturing and launch, now including folks from marketing and sales. 


  • The product launches and the initial customers are tracked closely.  This activity is visible.  It drives some tweaks and finishing touches on marketing.  They decide to launch a Customer community for the new customers to contribute their ideas to drive the new product forward.  They take these ideas along with their own to now drive sustaining engineering.  All of the ideas are feed into their Product Change Request process.


Now, it is rolled out and doing just fine.  The activity in the Widget community now starts to tail off.  The other communities just keep doing their thing.  On to the next snowball…



In the business scenario above, five primary Cim communities are used to drive the process forward.  The Engineering Community is a localized departmental community where the conversation begins.  The New Widget Community is community of purpose where the idea was nurtured to create the snowball effect and refine it.  The New Project Review community and Product Change Request process community are social business processes that are continuing and play a role in getting decisions made. The Customer Community opens the conversation up to the outside and feeds ongoing internal work.

Just like Na Kani Pela, it didn’t start out as a planned outcome.  There was a spark.  This spark was flamed and nurtured and enabled to emerge and become a product that worked in the market.

The key here is the enabling environment.  There are different communities, like pockets, that play their role.  Over time, based upon events, the activity ebbs and flows amongst the different communities.  With Cim v2.1, all of the relevant activity would be feed into the users Activity Stream so that they effectively see all of the updates from the different communities across the environment as the idea moves through its phases.  People are able to “watch” what is relevant to them.

With Cim in the new world of social business, you are adding a layer of software that enables this kind of process to occur.  Parts are structured and other parts are meant to allow emergence and improvement.  The good part is that this natural emerging process is something that we as people are actually very used to.  But now, we have tools in our business lives and our personal lives that are much better enablers to support the way we work.




Comments are closed.