1 The Distance Consulting Company 108 Endsleigh Court Robbinsville, NJ 08691. (609) 490-0095. "Assistance at A Distance". Community of Practice Much of what consultants do can be and is done off site. It is work that can be taken home. This is especially true of the kinds of Start Up Kit "skull work" involved in activities known as "analyzing" and "designing" and in developing work products such as training materials, point papers, meeting designs, reports and executive briefings. At Distance Consulting, we specialize in researching topical issues and other matters of interest to managers, executives and consultants.
2 In short, we can do a lot of your "homework" for you. On-site assistance is provided whenever the work requires it. The Distance Consulting Company 2000. Community of Practice Start Up Kit Introduction This CoP Start-Up Kit provides a variety of resources useful to people who are interested in sponsoring or starting up a Community of Practice (CoP). More general, background information about CoPs is provided in the CoP Overview, a separate segment of this Start Up Kit. This section of the Start Up Kit includes the following: Introduction ( ). A high level view of the Start Up Process ( ). A diagram illustrating a strategy for migrating CoPs from their mainly informal status to a more formal basis as Knowledge Communities ( ).
3 Considerations for allocating resources between supporting existing CoPs and starting up new ones ( ). A diagram depicting the life cycle of a CoP ( ). General guidelines and broad action strategies for sponsoring and starting up a CoP ( ). The qualities and characteristics to look for in spotting existing CoPs and to gauge success in starting up one ( ). Factors to consider in picking a focal point around which to establish or organize a CoP ( ). Considerations in marketing and promoting your CoP ( ). The Distance Consulting Company 2000 1. Community of Practice Start Up Kit A High Level View of the Start Up Process Behaviors Shut Preliminaries Start-Up & Activities Down Identify the champion and Set the agenda Share experiences and A shutdown decision the sponsor - issues/interests know-how may be made by the Pick a focal point - problems Discuss common issues CoP members or by - problem - goals/outcomes and interests sponsoring - Practice area Devise interaction modes Collaborate in solving management if this - process - e-mail problems was a sponsored CoP.
4 Prepare a business case - face-to-face meetings Analyze causes and Present a proposal (where - scheduled/unscheduled contributing factors resources or support will be - virtual meetings Experiment with new needed) - telephone/conference ideas and novel - value/benefits calls approaches - sponsorship/support - videoconferencing Capture/codify new - interactions Confirm and secure support know-how - outcomes requirements Evaluate actions and Select/enlist members - technology effects Get organized - resources Learning Get underway The Distance Consulting Company 2000 2. Community of Practice Start Up Kit Migrating from Communities of Practice to Knowledge Communities Convert Communities of Practice can sometimes be converted or transformed into Knowledge Communities through a process of migration that involves identifying them, recognizing them, supporting them and, finally, influencing them.
5 Value to the company is Value to the members is primary: sharing of ideas, primary: learning, meaning Identify Recognize Support Influence innovation and business and identity. Value to the impact. Value to the company is secondary. members is secondary. CoPs Informal ---------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------- ------- Formal KCs Continuum of Communities Communities of Knowledge Practice Communities Knowledge Communities can be established in two ways: (1). Encourage directly, as shown at the right and (2) indirectly, as shown at Establish the left, as a result of encouraging the formation of CoPs and then transforming or converting them into Knowledge Communities.
6 The Distance Consulting Company 2000 3. Community of Practice Start Up Kit CoP Start Up and Support Considerations Where should resources go? Start Up Support You have two basic options regarding Communities of Pros Cons Practice (CoPs): Pros Cons Payoffs from a new CoP Takes time; not likely to (1) You can identify existing Takes less time; success Runs the risk of driving could be sizable see any immediate CoPs and work with them to offers an early win the CoP underground and benefits determine the kinds of support losing its benefits that will benefit them and the Might be easier to build CoPs can be seeded and company.
7 On what exists than to Gains might be less than nurtured but they can't be start from scratch those from starting up a managed and they will OR new CoP. serve their members'. needs first (2) You can "plant some seeds". as it were and start up a CoP. where none existed before. There are pros and cons to both options as shown in the tables to the left and right. ! Pick A Focal Point ! Identify Existing CoPs ! Enlist Key People ! Make Contact - sponsor ! Negotiate Support - champion ! Provide Support - members ! Manage Relationship ! Organize/Establish the CoP ! Evaluate Relationship ! Negotiate Support - continue support !
8 Provide Support - withdraw support ! Manage Relationship ! Evaluate Relationship - continue support - withdraw support The Distance Consulting Company 2000 4. Community of Practice Start Up Kit The CoP Life Cycle As you contemplate starting up a Community of Practice (CoP), keep in mind that a CoP has a distinct life cycle. Its duration might be long or short but it will go through the following stages. Committing Starting Up Operating Winding Down Shutting Down Someone decides a CoP The CoP purpose is framed, The CoP members share The value of membership and The purpose is fulfilled and would be a good thing to do members are selected or knowledge, solve problems, the value to the organization little or no value remains to be and sets out to do it recruited, and roles are build skills and improve their diminish over time as had.
9 The members and/or the negotiated Practice problems are solved and the organization decide to shut Practice improves down CoP Stages of Development The Distance Consulting Company 2000 5. Community of Practice Start Up Kit Factors to Keep in Mind When Sponsoring or Starting Up A Community of Practice General Guidelines Use a light hand. Mandates to "launch" CoPs may create resistance to what could be viewed as the next corporate program to wait out.. Keep things simple and as informal as possible. Levying demands and imposing strong expectations can quickly convert a CoP into a project team focused on tasks and deliverables.
10 The team will drive toward satisfying the boss instead of producing and sharing new knowledge. Remember that the members of a CoP are there to serve their own work-related ends as well as those of the organization. Remember, also, that the success of a CoP hinges on trust between and among its members. Do stay focused on the primary purposes of a CoP to learn from each other as a result of sharing and collaborating. Resist the urge to reach for technology. Most CoPs can make do quite nicely with telephone calls, e-mails and occasional face-to-face meetings. A web page with links to relevant resources might be useful but the real action in a CoP is in the interactions among members.