Home > Communities of Practice > So what do we do as Community Facilitator’s? Based on research.

So what do we do as Community Facilitator’s? Based on research.

I have been part of the Knowledge and Innovation Community of Practice research that has been taking place over a range of communities from the Public and Private Sectors.

Last week I got to see Professor Harry Scarborough and Davide Nicolini show a few of their finding.

The main function of the Community facilitator can be split into three

  1. Front Stage
  2. Integrating
  3. Back Stage

Front Stage includes:

Documenting outcomes

  • Compiling success stories (“We located a spare part…saved about six weeks of downtime. “)
  • Collecting usage metrics (“In some communities, there is a 40 percent contribution rate. “)
  • Quantifying gains (“We’ve achieved 5 million pounds of savings and 17 million pounds of added value. “)
  • Soliciting member feedback (“The feedback we get from surveys…is that people feel valued…“)

Advocating the community

  • Establishing a business case (“And we spent some time aligning what we wanted to do as a network with the organization. “)
  • Cultivating strategic relationships (“So I’ve approached an individual, a senior manager, to become involved with our community. “)
  • Leveraging support to acquire resources (“Whoever is ultimately sponsoring it, or running it, allocates the resources. “)

Integrating includes:

  • Integrating objectives to satisfy stakeholders (“I make sure the final compromise on [goals] works for [both managers and members] “)
  • Revising objectives (“We revisit goals at every meeting…they’ve changed a lot. “)
  • Codifying community objectives (“I wrote a constitution and got us moving.”)

Back stage includes

Community Development

  • Determining membership standards  (“Anyone can join.” “Initially we just invited twelve.”)
  • Managing membership (“…we had to replace almost 50% of the core members.”)
  • Identifying potential members (“We [got members] by asking business units, individuals…”)
  • Marketing the community to potential members (“We’d follow up with them…and explain the value of these communities)

Facilitating Exchange

  • Generating content (“I actually went in and answered this one…”)
  • Disseminating content (“…I create a newsletter, just highlighting stuff…”)
  • Reducing obstacles to engagement (“People are quite tentative…so I create an icebreaker post.”)
  • Coordinating meetings (“Every month I send out a calendar invitation with an agenda.”)

This seems to fit in with comments from other people such as Heather Champ and Tom Hamberger who I have previously mentioned in Inside the mind of a community facilitator and Why Facilitators are so important for a Community of Practice

So what stage do you spend most of your time as a Community Facilitator?

Is it Front Stage, Integrating or Back Stage

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  1. September 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    It would have to be a toss up between Front Stage and Back Stage work, with Front Stage just edging it because I spent a lot of time promoting active people and groups on the community for the benefit of their corporate/online reputations. These also served as attractive examples for lurkers who hadn’t made the steps towards active participation. I also promoted people and brands from the business on Twitter and external blogs, which was also is a big time eater.

    To make more time for Back Stage activities, I avoided meetings like the plague – opting for IM chats or conference calls if necessary. And marketing the community was never high on my agenda because the success of the people using it always led to plenty of word of mouth leads for people wanting to set up CoPs and blogs etc. And stakeholders, sponsors, strategists were always busy promoting the benefits of the community. But, of course, this varies depending on the culture of the organisation(s) your community represents. Great work on the research, Mike.

  2. October 19, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Great post Mike – really helpful metaphor.

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