Last October the Ark group invited me to present on my experiences in facilitating CoPs in a global firm.
I found gathering the material quite easy as I have been blogging about the experience from day one. Blogging is superb for memory management (capturing raw fragments as they happen and getting feedback).
If you are a regular reader of this blog, this presentation is nothing new. Yet it was good for me to consolidate all my thinking into 60 slides as a nice package.
Here is a link to the Flyer from last years event:
KM for the Energy, Engineering and Resource Sectors
- Advancing knowledge management and colllaborative practices across resource and infrastructure intensive organisations
- Two day connected forums and workshops 19-21 October 2009, Mercure Perth
My presentation is:
- Developing, adopting, and supporting online CoPs
- Identifying types and dynamics of online group spaces
- Facilitating participation in an environment of open conversations
At the start of my talk I made it clear that I’m talking from the perspective of the design of the tools we use.
Most new looking CoPs are designed around a forum stream, whereas our CoPs are very portal (document centric) looking, where you can have as many blog, forums and wikis you like within your CoP.
Our tool is not very user-centric, and therefore has had impact on it’s adoption, before we even got out of the gate. It was important for the audience to know this; that “my” experience is not “the” experience.
And of course each organisation has their unique cultures and politics, and do things differently. I mentioned to the audience that my talk is not a recipe or best practice, but only my experiences of dealing with design, and group and individual human behaviour.
After the talk I added a few slides, a couple of them is what I came away with after Mark Bennett’s workshop.
Also see related slides KM in context.
Start off with an anecdote
Whilst listening to another presentation I recalled an experience I had earlier that week. This gave me the idea to start off the talk in regards to a few personal experiences at home. Shawn Callahan says it’s more effective to present stories before facts, as you get the audiences undivided attention first…instead of them analysing your facts rather than listening properly and going on your ride.
My anecdote was about getting help now - connection, context, sense-making
I won’t re-tell the story, but here is the gist of it.
My new line trimmer would not start, this was the second weekend in a row I add a chance to look at it and was disappointed I could not get it going. I went through the manual and troubleshooting pages, but no help.
I searched in Google, which led me to FixYa.com
There was my answer. Someone had experienced the same thing with the same line trimmer and asked for help in a forum. An answer was provided, I was able to use that answer to get my line trimmer going. *smiles*
The trouble shooting section of the manual is just not alive, it can only cover known issues at the time of print and update it when new versions come out. But it can’t help someone on demand, it can’t provide connection and context.
My sense-making went one further in that I re-used an existing answer. Well I don’t know if that is one further, because equally amazing is that asking a question followed by conversation leads to creation of new information, which is what happened in the case before I came on the scene.
Why can’t the workplace be like this?
As a showcase example our CoP on Design Tools provides this very example on a daily basis. It shows that connection and context (relationship/trust) helps you sense-make and move on with your day. You can’t beat the original “forum”.
My second story was on the Eurolab steamer that my wife bought online, as a replacement for our iron.
Our steamer had blockages because of the minerals in the water and was not creating steam.
Again I looked on Google and it returned a result to the online retailer we purchased it from. They are very transparent and have forums and reviews for each product.
It turns out many people were experiencing the same issue as me, and a reply on the forum simply said to remove the pin whole screw cap all together. The details are not important. What is important is that I had an issue, I searched if others have experienced the same issue, it turns out they did, and I was able to re-use an answer, and then get on with my day…yippee steam cleaning clothes
Just quickly we had to get new carpets in our new baby room. Someone at work overheard me talking about it and recommended me to a cheap place that sold quality off cuts for half the price. How cool was that?
The key here is that visibility, and participation is where it all starts…connection and conversation follow, and it’s all documented online to be re-used, re-contextualised, re-hashed into something new.
Here’s my presentation
Community of Practice for Facilitators : pilot, adoption and participation
The unexpected emergence from our Communities of Practice
Online Communities of Practice are a sweet spot!
Online communities - technical facilitators are not enough
Rob Weare gave a great talk on CoPs in Rio Tinto Iron Ore
I took a few things home from this talk including a way to promote the effectiveness or report on the benefits of CoPs via anecdotes.
Operational Excellence videos on our CoP interactions that demonstrate sense-making and effectiveness. Collaboration in Action pages to disseminate to the organisation as a print version of CoP success interactions…this also recognises the individual at the same time.