Participation In CoPs


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It's important that managers who run CoPs understand that the usual scientific management approach based on the main concept of efficiency won't cut it. CoPs are more like good parenting or leadership where you create conditions for good and emergent outcomes.

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  • Activities Offline Choose something you do offline eg. a question time pre or post a conference/meeting…and complement this with using a forum for pre and post questions Member intros One of our CoPs makes it mandatory that new members fill in a forum topic where they can tell the group a little about themselves, experience, why they joined, aspirations Lounge forum Some of our younger generation (graduate) CoPs have non-work forums as a way to build commonality, fun and relationships The more rapport we build the more we build opportunities to collaborate and help each other out Blog carnivals (thematic topic weeks) Polls Coffee corner/Fill in the gap Fun quiz, riddle, story… Member of the month This showcases a member One of our graduate CoPs also asks questions to the community about history of a member Gets people talking to each other, and finding things out about each other Showcase hot discussions (weekly roundup posts) Share personal stories Keep track of people travelling Guest posts from other CoPs Use engaging media (videos) Link to your CoP in your email signature Create your own newsletter to reach others Promote the CoP in other newsletters Write about stuff happening in other communities Build a relationship with sister CoPs (drive traffic to each other) Guest bloggers from other CoPs Rehash old content in other ways Events / guest speakers Blog columns (frequent posts)
  • General facilitator duties Monitor/Listen in and always offer pointers or feedback or congratulate Understand member motivation Subscribe to everything Encourage members to specialise Gardening/Weeding (move topics, distil great posts on wiki pages) Design Communicate what’s happening Help and welcome new members Assist people in using CoP Re-purpose email Welcome Suggestions and Feedback (via a forum) Congratulate good use Barnraising Support issues Answer questions promptly Make sure content is correct (re-edit old posts, leave a comment to correct/update) Help guides Promote
  • Community Lifecycle Grow vs immaculate creation Plateau vs infinite growth Nothing is forever
  • Participation In CoPs

    1. 1. Participation in Communities of Practice John Tropea Skills in group behaviour
    2. 2. First things first… <ul><li>Do you have a community leader with passion and time? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you have passionate key members? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you have a shared identity on what you want out of the community? </li></ul>
    3. 3. First things first… <ul><li>The manager who thought he could create a community </li></ul><ul><li>CoPs are Voluntary, Emergent, Self-selecting (If they have value they will form) </li></ul><ul><li>It has a sense of place, and needs to be tendered and cared </li></ul>NOTE: This does not apply as much if your CoP is about team tasks
    4. 4. First things first… <ul><li>Social tools are not built for a specific purpose (People need assistance in how to use them) </li></ul><ul><li>Social tools are interactional rather than transactional (Need to create conditions for conversations to happen) </li></ul><ul><li>Don't need lots of members to succeed (Three or four “active” members is all it takes) </li></ul><ul><li>Subject matter expert needs to run it (Technical facilitator is not enough) </li></ul>
    5. 5. First things first… <ul><li>Merging CoPs is a risk (People want to talk about a topic where they hang out) </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t over design look upfront (Start off simple and concentrate on participation, if successful then design to full intention) </li></ul><ul><li>I don’t want to share, that’s counter to meeting my objectives…and reward!! (Something to be aware of…Bottom-up is not enough, eventually need Top-down structure shift and appraisal model on collaboration) </li></ul><ul><li>Intrinsic motivation, rather than rewards </li></ul>
    6. 6. CoPs vs Teams The online tools don’t define how the group operates (many teams are using CoPs) Encourage participation Trust Required participation High interdependency Participation Facilitator Manager Manage Informal roles Defined roles Members Learning/Sharing Ad-hoc Emergence Tasks Processes Outcomes Purpose Community of Practice Team/Task  
    7. 7. The low down on participation Design (Intuitive / Stickiness) Frequency of content Email interaction / Bookmarklet Peer influence Champions / Role models Viral approach Post, and send link Attract comments Re-purposing email Hand-holding Barn-raising In-the-flow / Above-the-flow Feedback (Reputation / Recognition) Group building Confidence / Comfort / Safe Trust Relationships (Give and Take) Personal relevancy / Change
    8. 8. Design <ul><li>Is the tool in tune with human behaviour? (Is it intuitive ; don’t have to think) </li></ul><ul><li>Is the vendor/tool responsive to design changes? </li></ul><ul><li>Not using the system and not sharing are not the same thing </li></ul><ul><li>Ask the users what they want, and then they want something else? (Design as you evolve; as a co-creation process) </li></ul>SOURCE ;
    9. 9. Design <ul><li>Click or two away from what they need to do </li></ul><ul><li>People don’t have the time to read a manual (Instead place instructions on the actual objects) </li></ul><ul><li>No blank slates; first visit needs to be appealing (Create a stickiness factor so people return) </li></ul><ul><li>Are you appealing to different user experiences? </li></ul>
    10. 10. Design <ul><li>Avoid cognitive stress (Email is easy as one channel to say everything) </li></ul><ul><li>Do I use a blog or a forum for what I want to say? </li></ul><ul><li>Which blog do I post in? Which forum do I post in? </li></ul><ul><li>Where is the “post new entry” button? </li></ul><ul><li>Where is the “subscribe” button? (Where’s a list of subscribers who will get my post?) </li></ul>
    11. 11. Frequency of content <ul><li>Quickest way to get a CoP going is to ask questions (Successful “help” interactions lead to more…trust in the CoP) </li></ul><ul><li>Core group of people to blog weekly columns, initiate forum discussions, leave comments </li></ul><ul><li>Whenever something happens, blog about it (“I uploaded a presentation into our library, go check it out!”) </li></ul><ul><li>Posting, rather than Publishing (People are used to publishing a final piece, rather than posting work-in-progress/thinking out loud) </li></ul>
    12. 12. Email Interaction / Bookmarklet <ul><li>If it’s not in your inbox it doesn’t exist </li></ul><ul><li>People are more likely to react if it comes to them </li></ul><ul><li>Publish and comment via email </li></ul><ul><li>Publish whilst browsing the web </li></ul>
    13. 13. Peer influence <ul><li>Prior to this they have not dedicated the time to investigate, but if a close colleague finds it of value, then this will influence them to give it a try </li></ul><ul><li>We are influenced by people we trust, more than a training programme, or by others we don’t know well </li></ul><ul><li>We take recommendations from people we value </li></ul><ul><li>Influenced by the herd / conform </li></ul>SOURCE
    14. 14. Champions / Role-models / Viral <ul><li>If the leads are not role-models in active participation, then this sends a signal that the community is not important </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitators must lead by example, and encourage senior/respected people to be role-models </li></ul><ul><li>Concentrate on training just a small group </li></ul><ul><li>They will set the good examples and be an influence on others </li></ul>
    15. 15. Feedback (Reputation/Recognition) <ul><li>Facilitator feedback encourages more participation (“That was an insightful blog post, I will apply that method”) </li></ul><ul><li>Answer questions promptly so people feel heard and benefit from participating (will influence return visits) </li></ul><ul><li>Comments generate motivation for more blog posts </li></ul><ul><li>Company commander who became an active participant after he found out that other people were getting valuable use from his AAR document </li></ul>SOURCE ;
    16. 16. Feedback (Reputation/Recognition) <ul><li>Being appreciated and feeling you have made a difference are good conditions for further participation </li></ul><ul><li>Sense of belonging leads to engagement </li></ul><ul><li>After a while this system becomes self-rewarding as people may draw a reputation </li></ul><ul><li>Recognition means more coming from strangers/peers who really understand the subject, than the boss </li></ul>SOURCE ;
    17. 17. Group building <ul><li>Face-to-face interaction and connection, or online ways for members to connect in real-time </li></ul><ul><li>These can be social gatherings, meetings, or workshops </li></ul><ul><li>Building rapport as conditions for knowledge sharing/participation </li></ul><ul><li>Sense of belonging creates an emotional safety </li></ul>
    18. 18. Confidence / Comfort / Safe <ul><li>Are people confident and comfortable to participate? ie. do they have a relationship with other members </li></ul><ul><li>People feel safe in closed/private world of email </li></ul><ul><li>Beware of big CoPs eg. at a house party we are always more comfortable in sharing our lives after a lot of small talk where we build a rapport (a certain level of trust)…or after a few drinks  </li></ul><ul><li>Do we feel safe from speaking out, being wrong, judged and misunderstood? (Psychological Safety) </li></ul>SOURCE
    19. 19. Trust and Relationships <ul><li>Not a pre-condition, but a process of engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Informal conversation builds relationships/rapport/trust which leads to sharing </li></ul><ul><li>Assurance that our knowledge will be treated with respect </li></ul><ul><li>People you trust will give you confidence they will not misuse your knowledge sharing </li></ul>SOURCE ;
    20. 20. Trust and Relationships <ul><li>Being a Subject Matter Expert can be a burden </li></ul><ul><li>I will share with those who invest a relationship with me </li></ul><ul><li>Time consuming to understand the issue, and research answer </li></ul><ul><li>The more I know you, the more I share (Reciprocated relationship) </li></ul>SOURCE ; ;
    21. 21. Trust and Relationships <ul><li>Is there an equilibrium of give and take? (Anticipated reciprocity) </li></ul><ul><li>Do some members just ask questions and never help out with answers? </li></ul><ul><li>Are members willing to research answers for questions from non-members? </li></ul>
    22. 22. Trust and Relationships <ul><li>Competent </li></ul><ul><li>(Are you known to be knowledgeable?) </li></ul><ul><li>Behavioural </li></ul><ul><li>(Are you known to be approachable?) </li></ul><ul><li>Sharing doesn’t require a strong tie, but it requires trust </li></ul><ul><li>Most useful knowledge comes from trusted weak ties </li></ul>SOURCE
    23. 23. Personal Relevancy / Change <ul><li>Is the community personally relevant, or fulfilling needs at an individual level? </li></ul><ul><li>Engagement, sense of impact and belonging (Intrinsic motivation) </li></ul><ul><li>People don’t resist change, they resist being changed </li></ul><ul><li>Resistance to change is about the situation rather than a character trait </li></ul>SOURCE ;
    24. 24. Posting and Attracting comments <ul><li>If intended audience aren’t subscribers, still create the blog post, then send them the link </li></ul><ul><li>Rather than just sharing links, write an opinion based review…this will get people to react </li></ul><ul><li>It’s about the conversations that the blog post triggers (Builds community spirit, and return for more) </li></ul><ul><li>People are more prone to comment, rather than blog or write a forum topic (Write content that induces comments as a starter) </li></ul>
    25. 25. Re-purposing Email <ul><li>CoP tools can replace the email distribution list </li></ul><ul><li>People will use email out of habit </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitator must thank them for participating and correct them with the right tool (Need discipline and repetition) </li></ul><ul><li>Then demonstrate by re-posting their email into the forum/blog, then send them the link (Ask them to subscribe in case the conversation keeps going) </li></ul>
    26. 26. Hand-holding <ul><li>Workers lack time to learn a new tool, but they perhaps will if you instigate it </li></ul><ul><li>Breaking old habits with new technologies (Need repetition to habituate new behaviours) </li></ul><ul><li>People are expected to publish in an open place, rather than the more confident private email channels </li></ul>
    27. 27. Hand-holding <ul><li>People are used to MS Word; reassure them the blog/forum/wiki posting toolbar is a basic version </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid teaching HTML (source code) till later on </li></ul><ul><li>Sit down with a member once a week for a couple of months and guide them in publishing a blog post, until they get used to it and build the confidence. </li></ul><ul><li>Comments on their blog posts motivate them to create new blog posts </li></ul>
    28. 28. Raids / Barn-raising <ul><li>Spend a session on using a wiki for a specific / real purpose </li></ul><ul><li>This gives people real experience at using them, and using new tools for current needs </li></ul><ul><li>The idea is that they will go back to their seats and continue using it </li></ul><ul><li>Rather than creating a wiki and asking people to participate, put important information on the wiki so they have to visit, and provide their input </li></ul>
    29. 29. In-the-flow / Above-the-flow <ul><li>In-the-flow – using CoP tools to do work (Requirement / Interdependencies) </li></ul><ul><li>Choose an activity or type of communication that is conducted in an email list and now do it in the CoP Eg. broadcast announcements are now done in the CoP blog, people have no choice but to visit the CoP…while they are there they may look around and participate elsewhere </li></ul><ul><li>Eg. Drafting articles for a newsletter </li></ul><ul><li>Above-the-flow – using CoP tools for communication, sharing and learning (Volunteered) </li></ul>SOURCE
    30. 30. Activities you can try are… Offline to Online Member Intros Lounge forum Blog carnival Polls Guest posts Coffee Corner / Fill in the gap Member of the month Weekly roundup Personal stories People travelling Blog columns Engaging media (video) Email signature Newsletter Linking across CoPs Events Portal
    31. 31. Seed, feed, and weed Garden Design Communicate Welcome Assist Support Prompt Correct Guides Promote Re-purpose Suggestions Feedback Congratulate Barnraise Monitor Listen Personal needs Subscribe Specialise It's of utmost importance that a Community Manager is subscribed to every blog and forum in every community. SOURCE
    32. 32. There is no average contributor <ul><li>Power law (L-curve) </li></ul><ul><li>Average user doesn’t really exist…heavy contributors skew a useful average meaning. </li></ul>SOURCE <ul><li>Contributors may be higher within organisations due to peer influence </li></ul><ul><li>People that have a positive influence in one group will influence that to happen in their current group </li></ul><ul><li>Lurkers are important as they act as an audience which motivates people to post in blog/forums, they also pass on your links to others, and perhaps walk what you talk about </li></ul>Tip! Nurture those who are already contributing
    33. 33. Living and breathing SOURCE
    34. 34. Time for a health check
    35. 35. Connect <ul><li>Library clips </li></ul><ul><li>LinkedIn </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter </li></ul><ul><li>Email [email_address] </li></ul>