Jive SBS Structure Best Practices, Part 3

September 18th, 2009 by Gia Lyons Leave a reply »

The following is a result of Jive Client Services’ extensive work with many large clients who have deployed Jive SBS for employee engagement purposes. It is Part 3 of a three-part series. Read Part 1 and Part 2 before reading this.



In Part 1, we described the emergent and prescribed approaches to creating an initial Jive SBS structure. A blend of the two is recommended.

In Part 2, we explained what situations were good candidates for Jive SBS Spaces and Groups, accompanied by recommendations about how to design and manage them.

In Part 3, we’ll discuss initial space taxonomies and groups that provide enough comfort for people who need to browse, and that offer enough of a pattern of use to seed proper taxonomy growth.

Taxonomy Patterns

Probably the most important thing to keep in mind when structuring your initial Jive SBS taxonomy is that it’s NOT just about publishing content, and it’s NOT just about broadcasting one-way messages. You probably already have applications for these uses.

Jive SBS is about engaging people about specific topics and content. Of course, many clients find that Jive SBS’s ease of use entices the publishers and broadcasters in their organization, and that’s perfectly fine. Just help them to understand that people will talk about their stuff, and they should respond.

The Lobby Pattern

Note: This pattern was first shared with us by Claire Flanagan. Thanks, Claire!

In the Lobby Pattern, spaces are used as entry points to a particular topic, with relevant sub-communities highlighted on the Overview page. If it makes sense for the topic, this is where the “official” general blog resides, where people can ask general topical questions, and/or where general information about the topic is posted. For more specific focus, people are encouraged to browse any existing sub-communities.

Sub-communities about the topic can exist as Jive SBS Groups and/or sub-spaces. Encourage people to create Groups if membership and self-service group management matters more than the granular permissions, controlled creation, and hierarchical order available with Spaces. Ensure they tag their Groups with the main topic at the very least. For example, groups created about R&D should include “R&D” as a tag. This makes the groups more findable when people who search include “R&D” in their search string. Make this an element of any training materials about Groups.

The lobby space’s manager lists these relevant groups – and in some cases, highlighted sub-spaces – in a Formatted Text widget on a space’s Overview page. As mentioned in Part 1’s discussion about the emergent approach, the goal is to make the groups more findable for participants who choose to browse the space taxonomy. It isn’t necessary to add all groups, because when a participant visits the Overview page for any group, he or she will see related groups in the Similar Groups widget. The space manager should refresh the list of groups periodically by adding new groups and removing those that become inactive.

Here’s an example:


Here’s another example:


A third example uses the Lobby Pattern to educate people how to use the Jive SBS features that sponsors want to promote the most. At the same time, it clearly encourages people to create Groups (and avoid requesting spaces):

  • Help
  • About Groups
  • About Profiles
  • About Blogs
  • Feedback
  • Ask a Question
  • Break Room

In very large organizations, where it is practically hopeless to try to create a space taxonomy that would make sense to all, the Lobby Pattern can provide a browsing experience that helps new participants feel comfortable, without overwhelming them.

The Units Pattern

It is inevitable that someone on the planning team or a sponsor will want to create spaces for any number of “units”. These are usually geographies, departments, divisions, functions, products, services, customer segments, partners, competitive segments, industries… you get the idea.

There’s nothing wrong with creating spaces for these units, as long as someone agrees to take care of each space, as explained in Part 2. Don’t create a bunch of spaces for all the organizational units in your company, and expect them to thrive without owners. Resist the urge to organize everything for everyone in advance. Remember, this isn’t just about making content available – it’s about interactive communities.

You CAN encourage a Units Pattern taxonomy growth over time, however. For example, if you anticipate that functions across the organization will want their own spaces – Marketing, Finance, IT, R&D, Communications, HR – either find people who will serve as community managers, content contributors, and advocates for each and every space, or do so with just one. Create it as a sub-space under a “Lobby” patterned space called “Job Families,” or “Functions,” like this:

  • Job Families
    • R&D

Usually, people will notice that R&D has a space, but HR doesn’t. This will prompt them to ask for their own space, at which time you can educate them about what it means to manage a space. Perhaps you can educate them about the Lobby Pattern as well, so that they realize they don’t have to create and manage a bunch of sub-spaces in addition to their Lobby space.

Again, it’s all about ownership by the people, not the implementation team.

If you’re concerned about upsetting potential key stakeholders by not representing the units they care about in the initial taxonomy, then reach out to them first. Communication about what you’re planning will go a long way to mitigate obstacles to your success.

Initial Taxonomy Example

A combination of the Lobby and Units patterns tends to be a solid way to start for large organizations with somewhat of a traditional culture. If your culture is more collaboratively and Web 2.0 savvy, this might be too much structure to begin with – try it with your initial participants, and adjust as you go.

Here’s an example – the dark items have assigned community managers; the grayed out items represent future growth:

  • Using Brewspace (peer support community)
    • Feedback
    • Success Stories
  • The Fighting Five (key strategic initiatives)
    • Customer Experience (lobby)
    • Globalization (lobby)
    • Becoming One Company (lobby)
    • High-Performance Teams (lobby)
    • Being Green (lobby)
  • Innovating Business Processes (key strategic processes)
    • Idea-to-Market (lobby)
    • Standard Operating Procedures (lobby)
    • Proposal Creation (lobby)
  • Products and Services (lobby)
    • Plastics (product family lobby)
    • Adhesives (product family lobby)
    • etc.
  • Functions
    • R&D
    • Finance
    • HR
    • Marketing
    • etc.
  • Businesses
    • Corporate
    • Americas
    • APAC
    • EMEA
    • Acme Subsidiary
  • Break Room (off-topic discussions)


  • Combine the emergent and prescribed approach to structure, placing emphasis on emergent.
  • Ensure Spaces and Groups have people who will care for them.
  • Create Spaces with the four “keys” in mind.
  • Create a structural pattern that new participants will understand and that will prompt them to create Groups or request valid Spaces.

One last thing: don’t be afraid to change the structure as you go. It’s a living, dynamic thing, just like your company.



  1. Claire Flanagan says:

    Great job with all this content. Ok, yes, thank you for the credit, of course. But this series has been fantastic. I am so excited for the future adoption planners because this three part series really helps outline some thinking and ideas a new planner can use!

  2. Gia Lyons says:

    Thanks Claire! Yep, it was time to publish some of the stuff we’ve learned about what works and what doesn’t. It’ll be interesting to see how long this content remains relevant, as the market and corporate cultures evolve…

  3. Just wasting some in between class time on Stumbleupon and I found your entry. Not typically what I like to learn about, but it was definitely worth my time. Thanks.