Posts Tagged ‘facilitation’

Peer Assist

October 29, 2012 Leave a comment

People can use a peer assist to gather knowledge and insight from other teams before embarking on a project or activity. It partners those seeking assistance – ‘receivers’ –with a peer or group of peers who have expertise in a desired area.

A peer assist can last from an hour to a full day depending on the size of the project.

Advantages of using a peer assist?

Talking to experienced peers about the best way to approach new projects saves time and money and avoids repetition of mistakes. It also creates strong links across teams and relationships between people.

How to run a peer assist?

A simple method that works well involves of the following steps:

  • Appoint a facilitator
  • Appoint someone from outside the team who will ensure the participants achieve their outcomes.
  • Select the participants
  • Choose participants who have diverse knowledge, skills, and experience. There is no hard and fast rule about minimum or maximum numbers but the right participants are particularly important.

Share information

This is done by dividing the meeting time into four parts:

  1. Clarify purpose –The receivers present the background and objectives of the project or task they are about to begin. They should also say what they hope to achieve in the peer assist.
  1. Encourage the peers to ask questions and give feedback – The peers discuss the receiver’s situation and share ideas and experiences. The receivers should simply listen.
  1. Analyse what’s been heard – This part is for the receivers to analyse and reflect on what they have learned and to examine options. The peers should take a back seat.
  1. Present the feedback and agree actions – The peers present their feedback to the receivers’ analysis and answer any further questions.

Collison C. and Parcell G., 2001, Learning to Fly: Practical Knowledge Management From Leading and Learning Organizations, Oxford: Capstone. 2004.

ISBN: 1841125091 2nd Edition 


Community Charter

October 25, 2012 Leave a comment

The Community Charter clarifies for its members the general framework necessary for a successful launch, cultivation, and growth of the group. The charter includes the group’s purpose, benefits, guidelines, and resource commitments.

Purpose Statement

Describes why the group exists. It is short and designed to capture both hearts and minds and encourages ownership within the community.


Explains the group benefits and is key is assisting member to make time to participate in the group but also in allowing them to explain to their managers the reasons why they are participating.  You also need to show “what success looks like”, and any appropriate impact measures


Explain what your Code of conduct is.  Will there be strong and defined rules or more casual guidelines and agreements?  Do you expect any confidentiality issues?  Do members have to agree to a “Terms of Service” or other form of agreement before becoming members?


What type of role do you need in the community these can be based on the type of community you are looking to develop e.g. Helping, Best Practice, Knowledge Stewarding or Innovation

Roles Helping Community Best Practice Knowledge Stewarding Innovation
Sponsor X X X X
Champions X
Leaders X X X X
Facilitators X X X X
Librarian X
Core Team X X X X
Subject Matter Experts X X X
Member X X X X

Thank to Erica Hurley at

Personal online tools to assist you in facilitating your group

August 2, 2012 Leave a comment

This is something that I have been thinking about for a while and has a great overlap with the concept of Personal Knowledge Management which has been discussed and talked about for a while from people such as Patrick Lamb from Straits Knowledge and Harold Jarche

As you all know the role of the online community facilitator is quiet diverse as you can see via Dion Hinchcliffe’s Jack of all trades, who says that, you will play these roles as a community facilitator.

Project Management, Customer Management, Professional Development, Brand Management, Advertising and Marketing, Staff development, Business Planning, Community Management and Content Management.

But what tools are there out there that can help you fulfil some of these roles?

One term that has started to come about is Content Curation, which covers quiet a few of the topics that Dion mentions

Sumeet Moghe uses a great image to show how you would content curate if it was dealing with Personal Knowledge Management and I have taking his concept to share what I do.


From August 2, 2012


But as we are looking to support and feed the community I believe there is one bit missing for us and that is Share

Making the list

  • Collect – What tools do you use to collect content?
  • Process – What tools do you use to highlight content to go back to?
  • Organise – What tools do you use organise the content?
  • Review and Retrieve – What tools do you use to review and retrieve content?
  • Share – What tools do you use to share the content?

So what personal online tools do you use to help, collect, process, organise, review and share content with your community?

Well I asked this question to the Online Facilitators Community on the Knowledge Hub where we organised an online round table for 90 minutes.

Below is a summary of what tools we discussed broken down into each of the five categories.

World's Largest Basket with ApplesCollection

Try to keep your mechanism for collection automated as this can save a huge amount of time rather than manually collection.  It can also mean that you have the info collected in advance, so you can get to processing.

  • Google Reader to collect and aggregate all of my information from news sites and blogs;
  • Twitter Hash Tags to collect and aggregate all of the information that my social network wants to throw my way;
  • Newsletters, Webinar’s and other communities.
  • Evernote
  • Sticky Notes – Google chrome
  • To do – Outlook
  • Youtube
  • Google Alerts
  • Slick RSS
  • Slideshare
  • Linkedin
  • Other community sites

Processingconveryor belt

You all know that you will never be able to keep up with everything just dip your foot in when it’s convenient.  If you miss something really important, your networks will bring it to the surface again at some point

Try to skim through all the information that has comes your way, while resisting the need to read through each of them.  And highlight the ones to come back to.

OrganisingOrganized embroidery floss

Organising is really a direct follow on to the processing.  As you are processing the content you will probably be tagging the content in a way to easily find it.  Or adding it to a tool for later use.

  • Delicious
  • Scoop It
  • Mindmapping
  • Google Drive
  • Outlook Folders


Reviewing & RetrievingWinston retrieves the news

When your content is organised hopefully you can find it easily, all you should be doing is searching for it.

ShareShared Zone>

That’s the finally stage you have collected, organised and are ready to share the content, but what is the best way to get the content to the correct audience.  You know how they communicate so pick the appropriate channel.

Getting someone in the hotseat (Part 2)

June 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Chair on FireThis is quick summary of the Hotseat I facilitated the other day all about hotseats.  Some really great insights on how to facilitate a hotseat from real facilitators.

Question:  How do you get the person on the hotseat to type fast enough to keep the flow of the discussion going? CW 

Answer: Having two or three ‘hosts’ sitting very near to each other, but with each one having their own computer. That way you can talk to each other to allocate the questions as they come in, then answers can be typed simultaneously. IC

Tip:  Regarding spelling/typo’s type the response (or question) in Word first allows for a quick spell check before copying and pasting MW

Tip: Having a panel of people answering questions is always a good idea. Not only because it means the answers come a bit more quickly, but also because it stimulates the debate straight away LC

Tip For remote hosts using a little bit of coordination (calling or emailing each other) will stop any mixed messages. LC


Question: What do you believe is the optimum length of time for a hotseat? IL

Answer An hour’s a bit too short, and two is a bit too long! I guess it depends on the anticipated interest in your topic. Timing is also an issue. It’s good to run the hotseat over, or at least partially over, lunchtime.  Also best to avoid Mondays & Fridays due to some people not working full weeks. IC


Question: How would you suggest is the best way to go about promoting the hotseat so the hotseat doesn’t fall flat and the poor hot seater is not sat twiddling their thumbs..? MW

Answer:  I try to make sure I message my potential audience about a week in advance, then re-message with a quick reminder on the morning of the hotseat. After 10:30 so most people have deleted their overnight email spam.

Also, I like to have a few ‘seed’ questions lined up to post IC


Question:  How many speakers should I have? Should I have several around one theme or one major speaker? IL

Answer I’d say one per theme would keep things a bit better structured. If you have more than one, and they are in different locations, I can imagine them both coming up with different replies & posting at the same time, which would give mixed messages, and not make the hosting organisation look too joined up.

If everyone’s in the same room & talking to each other, then no problems!  IC

Question: What sort of feedback have you had and do you have any anecdotes from people about how they’ve used info from hotseats to inform their own work going forward? LC

Answer: I get great feedback from when a hotseat is well attended. When it is less so, it’s a bit of shame, but not too bad when we consider that many others will have been quietly viewing it, and the attached documents will be useful for ages, long after the hotseat is over.  Plus, there’s also the money you’ve saved by not having a UK-wide meeting or conference! IC

Answer: We got positive responses from people about the hotseats. Three of them had also been trailed by a video clip from the “speakers” that formed part of the resource, together with in all instances a document – either a research report or guidance document that had just been launched. Together with two webinars (much more expensive), they were intended to be an alternative to a conference. Personally I’m not sure we should compare them as you get different audiences, different interaction and a different end result. What do you think? CW

Info: Estimated avoidance costs compared to face to face event exceed £2000


Question: Getting the person in the hotseat comfortable with this way of working can be interesting. How do you go about making sure the person in the hotseat is comfortable and understands what they need to do? MN

Answer: I make sure I have a good chat with the host, getting them to go over old hotseats etc. I make sure they’re comfortable with the concept and the practise, and let them know that I’ll be lurking in the background (on-line) to help if needed.  I tell them (& do) note who’s posted & when, then tick them off when I see they have replied. If they get swamped I can email or call them to alert them to anyone they’ve missed.



Question: What have you found to be the best way to promote your hotseats? Has social media got an important role, or are more traditional forms of communication more powerful? SM

Answer:  It’s predominantly email that I use to publicise the hotseat. I do stick them up as ‘event’s on the knowledge hub, but I’m not sure if that’s effective of not (I need to run an experiment!). Also just started to try out twitter. IC


Question: You mentioned that some people might face resistance to hosting (and I suppose taking part in) a hotseat. What kind of things have you heard people have an issue with? Also, have you ever used images, video or audio in your hotseats? LL

Answer: I do encounter some people who are not at all comfortable with the concept of the hotseat. I just take my time & talk them through it, assuring them that they won’t be spammed for ever after or have their bank account hacked!

I do use YouTube videos in my hotseats. The one I did today had a video intro IC


Question Have you notice increased traffic and interaction between members (comments/posts) within the group after hosting a hot-seat, or does this tend to remain fairly static? DM

Answer:  I’ve not seen it after the hotseat (though no reason why not) but during the hotseat it’s  REALLY good if audience members start having (on-line) conversations amongst themselves.

Usually it’s very helpful & work-related, which benefits all taking part & gives me & the host a bit of a breather. It’s also good to hear from other people, rather than just the back & forth, host – participant type of Q&A.

Maybe I should consider sighing off my hotseats with something that encourages such activity, rather than my usual ‘this hotseat is now closed’ line?

Thanks for the idea. IC

Content curation for your online group using Google alerts, Google reader, Scoop it and Blastacasta

May 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Have you been thinking about content curating for your online group or community?

So why should you currate content?  Well one of the roles that are mentioned in Dion Hinchcliffes jack of all trades is content management.











And content curation fits nicely into this area.

Having the facilitators flagging interesting content to the group is always a good thing, and there are a few simple things that you can use to make it easy for you.

After a while it could just be one or two clicks and a new piece of content could be available in your online group.

I’ll explain how you can do it.

Let’ start with the Google Alerts.  Go to Google Alerts and enter the keywords that are relevant to your group

Everyday you will now receive an email with a summary from across the web on your chosen topic.  You will start to see the same people talking about your subject or specific websites dedicated to the topic.





Next to Google Reader.  If you have started to see the same people and websites appearing in your Google Alerts why not subscribe to their RSS Feed.  Also Google will start to recommend blogs and websites to follow based on your feeds.

Really Google Alerts and Google Reader are the content collection stages.  Now you get onto the content curation.




I have been using a website called ScoopIt. Which is a content curation site which creates an online magazine of content that you believe is interesting.  But allows you to embed it into websites in a similar way as a YouTube video or to create a RSS feed which can be used with other sites to be embedded into a website.

But allows you to embed it into websites in a similar way as a YouTube video

Or to create a RSS feed which can be used with other sites to be embedded into a website.

And this is where Blastacasta comes in

You can add the RSS Feed into Blastacasta

And customise it in Blastacasta before taking the embed code to use in your group.

Please note to use the I frame version of the widget.

This is how it could look in your group

It sounds a lot more complicated to set up than it actually is.

Curating your content.

I also have a widget for Scoopit set up on my web browser toolbar, which is really helpful.  So I can see a piece of interesting content.  And within about 15 secs I can have it on my group.

This is how you I it.

Stage 1 – You find an interesting article, document or blog via Google alerts or Google reader.

Stage 2 – Select the Scoopit widget on your browser.

And this will open


90% of the time the title and content will be automatically filled in.

Stage 3 – Select Publish.

This will now appear in the group where you have added the widget from Scoopit or Blastacasta.

So what brought you to the Facilitator’s Community?

March 6, 2012 Leave a comment

I have been facilitating an online facilitator’s community for a number of years on the Communities of Practice for Public Service, which is some to close as we are moving to a new platform called the Knowledge Hub

But before we left one platform I remembered a great little survey from KM4Dev and thought I would ask the question.

The template consists of 4 simple questions

  1. What is your name, organisation and title?
  2. Where is your organization based?
  3. What “brought” you to CoP facilitators CoP
  4. Has being a member of this community assisted you in any way?

So I asked a few of them and this was their response

So what brought you to the Facilitator’s Community?

  • A desire to learn from other facilitators
  • I wanted to share experiences with other facilitators
  • I had no idea how it worked, what it was, or even that there were experts in it!
  • A desire to ask technical questions, communicate faults, and contribute to the improvement of the CoP
  • I was quite new to the Community of Practice way of doing things, so it was very useful to have a back up support system in the form of someone who will help answer queries and ideas about doing things as efficiently as possible.
  • I joined another community but saw the possibility/need for one in my area. I somehow found the facilitators community and managed, nervously, to post something in the forum
  • I was sort of told to join!! I was made a facilitator as part of my role and advised to join the Facilitators CoP, which I did. Great advice.
  • I joined the Facilitators community because this new role felt a bit bewildering

How has the community assisted you?

  • Being able to share ideas on how to organise and promote communities. Also knowing there were several people I could ask if I got stuck!
  • Taking part in on-line discussions and conferences has been a valuable learning experience as has using the platform to search for new ideas, concepts and approaches to community knowledge sharing across the country
  • I feel it is an essential platform to learn how best to make the most out of such a resource
  • It built my confidence, made we feel welcomed and I could ask any daft questions I wanted.
  • Really helped me understand what the role is all about. The analogy of a party host has stuck with me about the role and having a space for all party hosts to share ideas and discuss approaches has been invaluable
  • It has really opened my eyes to how powerful it can be and how useful it is in creating and storing information in one place for all of the community to use/discuss/enjoy.
  • I got some very useful information about embedding Twitter feed into one of COP groups.  This was achieved relatively painlessly and it was good to have a forum to go back-to to iron out any problems.
  • Being a member of the facilitators community gave me some ideas for developing the CoP
  • Very useful wikis on setting up and maintaining an effective community.
  • One of our first tasks was to produce a guide to how to use the Forum – Made much easier by the powerpoint presentations already present on the FC

Some nice answers and more to work on for the new community.

Why community facilitators need to be appreciated?

February 20, 2012 Leave a comment

This is a bit of a follow on from the Community Manager Appreciation Day #cmad

If you would like to find out a bit more check out the posts below

14 Days to go – Community Facilitator/Manager Appreciation Day

I just wanted to say a big thank you to all those great people out there that have the tireless task of being a community facilitator and try all different ways to turn a stranger in to a participant within an online community?

The role of the facilitator is tough, they have a multiply roles and sometimes called can be classed as Jack of all trades and if you had the chance to look inside the mind of a community facilitator that’s what it would look like.

With most communities the facilitator only has 21 days to hook a member and there a many ways you can cheat in building your community.  But sometimes in just a bit of fun that gets the party started as a facilitator.

You could lead a community by force, by making them make a post or else they will be sorry but is that really the way to do it, people are the life blood of the community mangers cannot create a community

Otherwise you could be back to square one and have to spend time trying to bring back one community member every day, and if the community and the people around the facilitator fail to appreciate what the facilitator does, the facilitator may leave and the community may come crashing down as in the case of Tom Hambarger

So who are these mad people that facilitate your communities?  And is it a game of Guess who?  Blaise Grimes – Viort’s survey with over 180 Community Managers across Spanish, German, British, French, American and other nations’ seemed to suggest that your star sign may have some influence over the role.  With Virgo and Libra topping the charts.

I have posed the question is it’s down to the year of your birth and your Chinese Zodiac sign.  I very much doubt it but it has got people talking and the key role of an online community facilitator is to get people talking.  This is where the introductions happen and the serendipity moments.

So is there any real point to this blog post.  Not really.  But I hope that you found some of it interesting and maybe had a bit of fun and now have some ideas of your own to try out with your community as you know them the best.

And as Derek Powazek says “Community Management is the process of making decisions with good intentions & then cleaning up after the explosion

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