Home > Communities of Practice > Good CoP, Bad CoP (Community of Practice)

Good CoP, Bad CoP (Community of Practice)

I’ve been working with Communities of Practice for about 3 years and have learnt many lessons on what to do and what not to do.Halo or Horns

And being that I work in Knowledge Management I’m always looking to find ways of sharing my experience with others.

So I’m doing a little bit of research at the moment at my organisation to try and prove all of the anecdotal evidence that I have. Yes I know probably not a good thing.  But it’s the same groups that constantly fail and you work with them, help them set up a plan show them what to do and how to engage members.  And they ignore it.

So what can you do?

Anyway it reminded me of the research project that the Knowledge and Innovation Network conducted in 2007 where they showed the 9 key actors to a successful Community of Practice.

Define the Focus of the Community

  • Ensure community activities address business issues
  • Ensure high levels of sponsor expectation

Provide Support

  • Provide CoP facilitator training
  • Ensure CoP facilitators are given sufficient time for their role
  • Provide significant funding for face-to-face events
  • Improve the usefulness of Tools provided

What can facilitators do?

  • Ensure there are clearly stated goals
  • Engage members in developing good practice
  • Promote CoPs ability to help solve daily work challenges

And at an event I was running a few months back where we showing one group the basics of social reporting.  They come up with a little audio clip of How to make a community fail.  Here are their thoughts.

  • Not setting aside time to monitor activity on your community
  • Not answering the questions that the community wants and not know what they actually want
  • Allowing questions to go unanswered, so they feel as if no one is there
  • Not making new members welcome in the community
  • Don’t tell anyone that you have a new community
  • Not getting the membership right in terms of the background and in terms of the priority of the members
  • Flaming when a new member is put down by older members for asking what they see as an obvious question.
  • Assume what the members need, and tell them what they need
  • Not setting the example as a facilitator, no profile and coming across as someone who is not real.

Not sure what other people think, but I think that’s a good way to kill a community.

  1. October 31, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Hi Michael

    Good to see you blogging in the badlands beyond the IDeA CoP platform! And that’s the best blog post title I’ve seen in a while (maybe even better than Lawrence’s ‘If government is going to be naked…’ gem!)

    I’ve seen most, if not all, of the ‘bad’ that you mention in communities that I’ve been a member of. So I’m trying with the communities I facilitate to do all (most?) of the good stuff and none of the bad…time will tell!


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