How To Build Successful Communities of Practice
Session: Communities of Practice Facilitators: Kristin & Dirk
What are communities of practice? Where peers share knowledge and get help to do their jobs better.
Exercise: pair up and write down what groups you’ve been in where you got knowledge, whether intentionally or unexpectedly.
What works? A range of thoughts & examples:
- No central authority
- Urgency and relevance to people’s life (even their survival)
- Focused on answering questions
- Lonely people
- It may start out social & fun & “stupid” – (example: sharing stickers with pictures of friends getting drunk) – but that turned into genuine support
- Started as a way of sharing frustration over technology that worked badly, but evolved into real support
- Safe; respected by the community no matter how simple or naive your question seems
- Need to know that people share my values
- Protected domain; I can ask a question and my ignorance isn’t necessarily broadcast to the whole world forever
- It’s nice if there’s something written that tells new members what to expect – even: how many members there are in the community, whether it’s mediated or not, standard of behavior if any...
Thoughts about online and off-line communities:
- Often an online community comes spontaneously out of a face-to-face encounter, like a conference or a coding boot camp
- In some settings users prefer online because of anonymity
Other thoughts and questions:
- Community is an investment. People must have an incentive. Face-to-face participation can really strengthen that (even: “somebody paid my plane ticket to the meeting place, it must be important!”)
- How do you establish trust in your community of practice? (“You judge whether the information that you get is any good!”)
- Is it important that people know who is running the group, how it’s organized, who is there? (“Transparency”) Not necessarily; for example Stack Overflow – many people use it and trust it, even without having any clue about its workings, since the information it gives is so consistently useful.
- “But how do we FIND our group?”