Dr. Jacques Bughin of McKinsey & Company throws a question to how are organizations stimulating an influx of content. My own response to this question is the following.

One of the keys to pulling content from readers and turning them into participants is by asking relevant questions. For example, this particular blog post ends with a call for opinions. This is just one strategy used for stimulating contributions.

In a qualitative analysis that I did of 5 bloggers in the field of training and development, one of the things that I ascertained was that when bloggers asked questions to their readers, this stimulated discussion.

Another stimulator that I have come to find in my research on communities of practice (focus of doctoral research) is that one of the ways to increase participation in to offer up a problem that requires resolution to a community of experts and let them “hash it out” so to speak. It is amazing to see lively discussion being captured in a thread and see new perspectives emerge through discussion.

In learning environments, creating activities in discussion forums such as case study analysis, is a great way to pull in information.

Since Conversation Theory (see Gordon Pask) is core interest of mine, I have been researching exactly this question for a few years. At the moment, I am administering a booming prototype for a community of practice in the Aviation Industry.

The key is letting the participant know that their contribution is of value and has the potential to advance thought and/or practice.

Early analyses of user participation pointed to the importance of building large communities, creating effective incentives for participation and implementing more flexible forms of organization. Looking back a few years later, the good news is that active participation continues to spread. The bad news is that harnessing participation is more difficult than we thought. Stimulating a continuous flow of high-quality contributions should be the focus of companies that want to take advantage of user participation.

A few years have passed since those observations. Looking back, what can we infer from them?