Update: I posted this to the SAP Mentor internal Facebook group asking for feedback. Matthias Steiner, Simon To and others missed some of the principles that are captured in the SAP Mentor Magic Foundation document: Expertise, Passion, Constructive Criticisms, Humbleness, Inclusion, Curiosity, Gratitude and of course Playfulness. I guess in my mind many of these fall into the category of Table Stakes. If you are not an expert in an area, you should get filtered out right away. Nevertheless I added some of them to the list with tips on how to ensure your candidates fulfill these criteria.
One goal of your E-Tribe is to capture and represent what is really going in in all aspects of your ecosystem. Using the following criteria when selecting your e-tribe members will help you create an environment of excellence. In that environment the high signal conversations develop between your product people and your tribe as well as with your executives.
That is what you are building your E-Tribe on, the expertise of your members. Make sure that they are also able to share that expertise with the community and the executives that you will bring them in contact with. Recommendation: Check expertise with trusted community members or colleagues at work, especially if someone has nominated themselves.
That is another fundamental building block for your E-Tribe. All of your E-Tribe members will have their day job. E-Tribe activity will mostly come on top of that. Only if someone is passionate will this additional effort will work out for both of you. Passion is contagious, once you foster it, others will want to join your Tribe. Recommendation: Get good at noticing passion, in the eyes of people, how they conduct themselves at events, how they answer in the forums.
- Constructive Criticism
Very important: Your E-Tribe is not an extended marketing arm. You want your E-Tribe to point out where your organization can improve. They do that because they want you to succeed. Set expectation right. Recommendation: Select some of your E-Tribe because they voice controversial opinions. Good criticism is an art. Help them develop that art: Give them private channels to voice it, help them make it constructive: If you criticize you also have to point out what a possible solution can look like.
You want to capture the sentiment of all the regions that you are operating in. Some cultures are more reserved than others, therefore you have to put in extra effort to reach out to people in these countries. Contact your colleagues in the region to get leads of customer representatives who may have given excellent testimonials. You will not be able to cover all countries right from the beginning. Recommendation: Get a list of countries ranked by the revenue they are bringing in from your sales team. During every round of adding new E-tribe members, one focus should be to add 2 new members from the country with the most revenue on the list that isn’t represented yet. Why 2 people? Your likelihood of success is much higher. Ideally they work together to further develop the community. May be they even create local get togethers. That is just more fun if you are not the only one.
Focus on having the majority of your members from customers. That gives the voice of the whole group legitimacy. After all it is the customer who is paying the bills. Recommendation: If they are hesitating to join, stress the advantages of influencing product roadmap and their ability to voice concerns directly with the executives in face to face meetings.
- Partners/Individual Consultants
This group has the greatest incentive to be part of your E-Tribe as they want to know first what is being developed, know what is going on in the market and want a good relationship to senior management. By making them part of your E-Tribe you make them stand out. Recommendation: Be upfront with the partners that community comes first. Add only those people to your tribe that have proven track record of deep community engagement and sharing. The E-Tribe community is not a place to overtly market services, their work should speak for themselves.
Should employees be able to be part of your E-Tribe? There are arguments on both sides, and I will soon detail these arguments in a separate post. I am pro having employees in the tribe as they are the ones to open up the doors into the organization for the rest of the tribe. The information flow back and forth is a lot better. Recommendation: Max 10-15% of your E-Tribe should be employees. The criteria to become one has to be much higher for employees. Really exceptional community engagement and nominated by customers in the community should be the
Make sure to have a great gender mix. In the tech world that is often not easy to achieve. If women in your overall community are represented in single digits, you will have a tough time to get to parity in your E-Tribe. Still by making the effort to engage women to nudge them to join the your tribe, they will become role models and shift the overall mix of the whole community for the better. Recommendation: Create a task force with the women and everyone else who is interested in a larger diversity in your tribe to help scout out and mentor possible future women members of the tribe.
- Diversity in Job Roles
Go beyond your online community to recruit your E-Tribe. You will miss a lot of important voices if you focus only on the ones who are active in the forums. Some are focusing on actively getting your local community together face to face. Others are really engaged around improving the product without it showing in online activity. Go beyond technology expertise. You want to have the integrators, the ones that see the opportunities and are able to successfully improve business processes in organizations using your technology. Recommendation: Create profiles of your ideal E-Tribe members. Share that with your whole ecosystem and encourage nominations beyond active online community members.
- Product Portfolio
All of your product lines should be represented in your E-Tribe. At the beginning that differentiation will be on a really high level. The potential is to have 2 E-Tribe members per product line per region. Recommendation: Over time subgroups will develop usually a handful of people that come together with the common interest to improve a certain topic. Support these groups. Make sure these groups have a great relationship to the team responsible for that product or solution.
Let me know in the comments which other criteria should play a role.