What are Communities of Practice?


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From the Leopold Center.

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What are Communities of Practice?

  1. 1. What are Communities of Practice? Definitions, Discussion, and Why We Started Value Chain Partnerships
  2. 2. Communities of Practice • “Groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis” –Wenger, McDermott, and Snyder (2002:4)
  3. 3. Tacit Knowledge • Knowledge that needs to be “thought about” to be shared
  4. 4. Arion’s Grandma’s Bread
  5. 5. Arion’s Bread
  6. 6. What do we do with all the learnings? Information Junkyards Empty Libraries From: Knowing in Community: 10 Critical Success Factors in Building Communities of Practice by Richard McDermott, Ph.D.
  7. 7. VCP vs. eXtension • Missions, not knowledge for it’s own sake • “Experts” and “clients” come together as equals • Meet physically — more time for informal interactions • Geographically limited in scope (Iowa)
  8. 8. • What's your experience with CoPs or similar models? • What worked and what didn’t?
  9. 9. Which best describes your network? Level of Risk (to members) Type of Systemic Change network Potential How they operate Cooperating Model best practices; test ideas Low and learn different approaches; Little chance convene problem-solving sessions Coordinating Push established organizational Low to Moderate boundaries; engage in activities Good chance requiring greater mutual reliance Collaborating Moderate to Methods in place to resolve conflicts; pursuing long-term High system creation; radical shifts from past operation; fundamental Best chance resource re-allocation From Vandeventer, P., and M Mandell, 2007. Networks that Work
  10. 10. The current research/education and technical assistance landscape for local and regional foods Difficult for farmers/communities to negotiate consultants State Dept of Agric. & Health Univ NGOs Bureaus K-12 Extension Community Comm. Colleges Programs action groups Departments Centers Colleges Dining Directives Health ?? Organizations Farm Organizations Cooperatives USDA Marketing Policy Production Rural Ag Marketing SARE Sustainable ag Development Private centers sector
  11. 11. Small Meat Processors Pork Niche Market Grass-Based Livestock Value Chain Partnerships An Iowa-Based Network of Food and Agriculture Working Groups Regional Food Fruit and Systems Vegetable •Funded in part by the Wallace Center at Winrock International and the Leopold Center •In partnership with ISU, ISU Extension, PFI, and the Leopold Center
  12. 12. Value Chain Partnerships 4 core functions • Information hubs – “multi-organizational extension service” • Catalysts for cooperation – build trust and capacity • Magnets – leverage funding • Scouts – cutting edge of new ideas
  13. 13. Why is Value Chain Partnerships (VCP) Different? A network orientation (Forces for Good; L.R. Crutchfield and H.M. Grant 2008) Organization Network Orientation Orientation Mind-set Competition Collaboration “Coopetition” Strategy for Grow the organization Grow the network field Impact Typical Compete for resources Grow funding pie Behaviors Protect knowledge Share knowledge Hoard leadership/staff Disperse leadership Structure Centralized Decentralized
  14. 14. Key Benefits for Producers and CoP Functions Businesses Key Benefits for Organizations Information hubs which •Greater awareness of wide range of support •Better grasp of real world challenges facing create, capture, document, providers and services producers/businesses leverage, and deploy •Access to larger "portfolio of expertise to •Greater awareness of complementary technical knowledge to create draw from" and "tacit knowledge"-- assistance offered by other organizations solutions for value chain information unavailable anywhere else •More effective organizations and employees •Improved business skills/competencies due to improved knowledge/ work competencies partners •Opportunities to participate in research that •Participating organizations are better able to creates new knowledge informing the manage "local politics" associated with food industry/work systems/sustainable agriculture work Catalysts for cooperation •Greater sense of teamwork and low level •More coordinated and efficient use of existing of diverse interests that cooperation (low risk information-sharing) organizational and state resources create solutions for food and •Opportunities for "high-level" cooperation •Participating organizations work more with fiber producers and (where businesses share some risk, other groups and more apt to recognize other businesses resources, and profits) organizations as assets/partners •Access to support network •Deconstruction of organizational boundaries •Private sector access to no or low-cost and negative organizational stereotypes public sector support and services •Better relationships between unlike and unlikely partners Magnets that attract funding •Private sector links with research agendas •Projects with unlikely partners more likely to and leverage, channel, and and consultants who initiate work that be funded distribute funding for R&D of benefits producers and businesses •Increased credibility CoP brings to the work differentiated products •Participating organizations invest more helps focus, coordinate, and leverage new and resources such as money and staff time on wider range of support work that supports the industry and benefits •Participating organizations are better able to producers than otherwise possible. leverage their own resources to commit to work Scouts that identify •Increased access to new markets •Participants better able to get attention of emerging value chain •Increased production and sales elected officials and government agency staff opportunities with potential to •Improved financial stability to get policy support for the work, producers, deliver economic benefits to •More efficient operations businesses, and communities stakeholders •Greater business viability due to better decision making