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.
This is done by dividing the meeting time into four parts:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Last week I ran a Peer Assist with a group of Online Faciltators.
One of the groups where a little concerned and wanted a bit of advice.
Peer Assists are a great way of sharing the collective experience of the group but also to suggest ideas that have never been tried before.
There’s even a great little video on youtube that demonstrates how they work.
We had three focused questions that where to be asked to the group, resulting in some great suggestions and tried and tested methods.
- How do we expand the core group of members?
- How do we demonstrate the value and benefits to our members?
- How do I get the most bang for my buck regarding the time I spend facilitating the group?
How do we expand the core group of members?
- Tweet new content (Check out the upcoming Social Media Week in #localgetssocial)
- Make use of hot seats
- Make groups the interactive part of your team offer
- Use events to promote the community with flyers, posting presentations and following up questions to speakers that weren’t able to be asked on the day
- Personalised acceptance / welcome notes: personable, friendly, signpost to sources of help
- Review your membership and target councils where there are gaps; invite them to join
- Channel shift – post and answer emailed questions on the group
- Use external forums (LGC, Guardian networks) to promote the community and make links to new audiences
- Include the expectation of contribution in the group ground rules
- Have a mix on content that people can interact with – it doesn’t all have to be at an expert level and doesn’t all have to be serious
- Think about incentives for joining (1000th member celebrations etc)
- Member of the month / interview key members
- Face to face events
- Use e.g. peer review signposting and principal advisers – join up better with other parts of the LGA and other Groups
How do we demonstrate the value and benefits to our members?
- Review existing content for evidence of benefits
- Reflect benefits in updates / reviews
- Look at including community numbers in internal reports
How do I get the most bang for my buck regarding the time I spend facilitating the group?
- Be personally interested and interesting
- Think about what content you can post that only the group can see e.g. communications from central Government
- Try to bring in Govt contacts to the groups
- Ask people for their views; be provocative
- Be aware of your own priorities and those of the team – are you focussing on the right things?
- Use group messaging
- Review Google Analytics to see what’s working
A big thank you to Rebecca for sharing the notes from the session.