K6233: COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE         COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE PROPOSAL –        LAUNCHING OF COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE IN   A V...
TABLE OF CONTENTS1.      EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ..................................................................................
1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARYTEACH Me Services is a division in the Asian Women’s Welfare Association(AWWA), a Voluntary Welfare Or...
The implementation of the Community of Practice (CoP) consists of fivestages – inquiry, design, prototype, launch, and gro...
2. INTRODUCTION TO CASE STUDY2.1. About Asian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA)Founded in 1970, the Asian Women’s Welfare...
and/or financial support to both clients and their families, as well as,    developing enrichment programs to encourage in...
Holding on closely to its aim in empowering and enriching clients’ lives,TEACH Me Services strongly believes in collaborat...
Figure 2: Community of practice (CoP) implementation framework.3.2.1. Phase 1: InquiryPhase 1 is a stage of exploration an...
•   Exploring appropriate technologies that will help to facilitate community    meetings, manage documents/discussions an...
4. COMMUNITY INQUIRY PHASE4.1. Needs AssessmentA needs assessment was first conducted, in the form of a face-to-face andem...
Based on the results from the needs assessment, it is hoped that thecommunity of practice (CoP) will be able to benefit th...
4.3. Organizational Strategy and ValueApart from sharing knowledge and learning, the essence of communities ofpractice (Co...
Envisioning that the community members have strongly build up theircapabilities and expertise during the short-run, the co...
performance and strategic capabilities of TEACH Me Services and AWWA asthe whole.There are currently no major barriers ide...
5. COMMUNITY DESIGN PHASE5.1. Community CultivationThere are several elements that community members need to consider inor...
•   Peripheral GroupSome of the newcomers may drop to the peripheral group if they find thecommunity not beneficial to the...
networks with TEACH Me Services and thus, will be familiar with thecommunity.•   RelationshipsThe community members will b...
be able to see the brief summaries of the meetings (along with the owners ofthe documents), which will help to promote the...
5.1.4. Community Roles• Community LeaderThe community leader is a person who intentionally leads in the cultivationand sus...
•   BrokerThe broker, who has memberships from multiple communities, helps to bridgeknowledge from other communities to th...
•   There is a strong identity associated with the community domain, and•   The community membership is clearly defined – ...
7.2. Meeting LogisticsThe core team will prepare the agenda of the launch event. There will also bea facilitator and emcee...
•   Getting to Know Each OtherOnce the introduction process is completed, members are given ample time toget to know other...
Assessment       Meeting minutes will be taken and follow-up actions to problems                 faced would be noted.Supp...
•   Case StudiesThe community can encourage knowledge sharing and learning by providingan appropriate space for the member...
gets blossom in right hand and gives fruitful result at right time. Organisationsare a good learning field for several rea...
10. REFERENCESAWWA. (2010). Asian Women’s Welfare Association: annual report 2010 –2011. Singapore: AWWA.Hubert et. al. (2...
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LAUNCHING OF COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE IN A VOLUNTARY WELFARE ORGANIZATION IN SINGAPORE

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communities of practice proposal

  1. 1. K6233: COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE PROPOSAL – LAUNCHING OF COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE IN A VOLUNTARY WELFARE ORGANIZATION IN SINGAPORE SUBMITTED BY: NUR SYAHIDAH BINTE ALIM (G1101756D) NIRMALA SELVARAJU (G1101760J) SUBMITTED TO: MR. GOPINATHAN DATE OF SUBMISSION: 20 APRIL 2012WEE KIM WEE SCHOOL OF COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION SEMESTER 2, 2011/2012
  2. 2. TABLE OF CONTENTS1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ................................................................................................... 2!2. INTRODUCTION TO CASE STUDY ................................................................................. 4 2.1. About Asian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA) .................................................. 4 2.2. TEACH Me Services .................................................................................................... 4!3. COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE (COP) IMPLEMENTATION FRAMEWORK ...................... 6 3.1. Definition and Rationale of Communities of Practice (CoPs) ....................................... 6 3.2. Five Phases in Building Communities of Practice (CoPs) ............................................ 6 3.2.1. Phase 1: Inquiry .................................................................................................... 7 3.2.2. Phase 2: Design.................................................................................................... 7 3.2.3. Phase 3: Prototype ............................................................................................... 8 3.2.4. Phase 4: Launch ................................................................................................... 8 3.2.5. Phase 5: Grow and Sustain .................................................................................. 8!4. COMMUNITY INQUIRY PHASE ....................................................................................... 9 4.1. Needs Assessment ...................................................................................................... 9 4.2. Community Identity .................................................................................................... 10 4.2.1. Domain................................................................................................................ 10 4.2.2. Community .......................................................................................................... 10 4.2.3. Practice ............................................................................................................... 10 4.3. Organizational Strategy and Value ............................................................................ 11 4.3.1. Vision and Expected Outcomes .......................................................................... 11 4.3.2. Sponsorship and Organizational Issues ............................................................. 12 4.3.3. Current Success Factors and Risks.................................................................... 13!5. COMMUNITY DESIGN PHASE ...................................................................................... 14 5.1. Community Cultivation ............................................................................................... 14 5.1.1. Forms of Participation ......................................................................................... 14 5.1.2. Orientation Profile ............................................................................................... 15 5.1.3. Learning Activities ............................................................................................... 17 5.1.4. Community Roles................................................................................................ 18 5.1.5. Technology ......................................................................................................... 19!6. COMMUNITY PROTOTYPE PHASE .............................................................................. 19 6.1. Discovery and Preparation ......................................................................................... 19 6.1.1. Setting Pre-launch Committee ............................................................................ 19 6.1.2. Overall Approach to the Launch Event ............................................................... 19 6.1.3. Preliminary Assessment of Participants.............................................................. 20!7. COMMUNITY LAUNCH PHASE ..................................................................................... 20 7.1. Invitation to the Launch .............................................................................................. 20 7.2. Meeting Logistics ....................................................................................................... 21 7.3 Launch Workshop Design ............................................................................................. 21 7.3.1. Education and Context Setting ........................................................................... 21 7.3.2. Community Design and Organizational Context Sharing.................................... 22!8. COMMUNITY GROW AND SUSTAIN PHASE ............................................................... 23 8.1. Types of Activities ...................................................................................................... 23 8.2. Community Health Assessment: ............................................................................ 24!9. CONCLUSION ................................................................................................................. 24!10. REFERENCES ................................................................................................................ 26! 1
  3. 3. 1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARYTEACH Me Services is a division in the Asian Women’s Welfare Association(AWWA), a Voluntary Welfare Organization (VWO) in Singapore, which aimsto assist children and youths with special needs in ultimately maximizing theirpotential to lead dignified and independent lives within the society. Thedivision consists of three departments: Trans-Disciplinary and TherapySupport (TDTS), Educational and School-Based Support (ESBS), and SocialWork, Counseling and Enrichment Support (SWCES).Apart from its key business objectives, TEACH Me Services has expressed itsintention to become a research centre in the long run that specializes in majorareas of disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy and Autism. With that in mind, thedivision has adopted an evidence-based practice (EBP) culture that willencourages its employees (i.e. practitioners) to incorporate their respectiveknowledge and/or expertise area with existing best (or effective) scientificevidences (e.g. therapy and/or assessment methods) in order to resolve theunique problem faced by each case. Such practices highlight the changingrole of AWWA in becoming an innovative voluntary welfare organization.However, TEACH Me Services have long been facing with the followingchallenges:• Little / no formal organisational practices of capturing tacit knowledge,• Lack of knowledge sharing among employees, and• High employee turnover rate.Hence, the team would like to propose in launching a small Community ofPractice (CoP) for the practitioners in the TDTS department in TEACH MeServices. It is hope that the implementation of the Community of Practice(CoP) will help TEACH Me Services to overcome the key challenges andultimately enhances its capability as a research centre in the future.According to Wenger, McDermott and Snyder (2002), “Communities ofPractice (CoPs) are groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems,or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise inthis area by interacting on an ongoing basis.” The essence of communities ofpractice (CoPs), as emphasized by Hubert et al. (2001), is all about groups ofpeople coming together – by a common interest and passion – to shareknowledge and learn from one another, be it face-to-face and/or virtually.In a world where knowledge constitutes the most vital and scarce resource,organisations are seeking ever more innovative and economically viable waysto leverage their knowledge for competitive advantage. Similarly to the case ofTEACH Me Services, the implementation of the Community of Practice (CoP)will highlight the changing role of AWWA in becoming an innovative voluntarywelfare organization.The proposal will describe the Community of Practice (CoP) service andoutlines its benefits, key deliverables, strategic roadmaps, methodology,policies, learning activities and health assessments.! 2
  4. 4. The implementation of the Community of Practice (CoP) consists of fivestages – inquiry, design, prototype, launch, and grow/sustain –, which willinvolve strong collaboration and support from the employees andmanagement in TEACH Me Services and AWWA throughout the entirejourney.! 3
  5. 5. 2. INTRODUCTION TO CASE STUDY2.1. About Asian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA)Founded in 1970, the Asian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA) is aVoluntary Welfare Organization (VWO) in Singapore that aims to empowerthe disadvantaged, which includes the low-income families, the elderly andthe disabled (i.e. young individuals with special needs), in maximizing theirpotential to “lead dignified and independent lives” (AWWA, 2010).AWWA offers specialized services to assist its clients in achievingindependence, which includes:• Resource Centre, which contains academic and/or educational materials (e.g. journals, manuals, conference papers, teaching/learning tools) on various disabilities and learning disorders;• AWWA School, which provides specialized education for students (i.e. age range between 6 and 18 years old) with physical disabilities (e.g. cerebral palsy) and autism;• Early Years Centre, which provides intervention for young children (i.e. age range between 1 and 6 years old) with special needs; and• Integration Services, which aims to integrate students (both children and youths) into mainstream education, employment and society.Among the four main services highlighted above, Integration Services isknown as a core business in driving AWWA to achieve its business strategy.Due to the limitation of time, our research will be focusing on one of the mainsub-division of AWWA’s Integration Services – which is, TEACH Me Services.2.2. TEACH Me ServicesTEACH Me Services focuses directly on assisting children and youths whoare physically disabled but are currently enrolled in mainstream educationinstitutions (i.e. from primary school level to tertiary level). In order for itsclients to have a smooth integration into the society, series of interventionsare needed to create awareness among its indirect beneficiaries, such as theparents, caregivers, teachers, classmates, and even members of the public.According to AWWA (2010), TEACH Me Services has more than 290 clientsto date. Approximately 30 professional staffs, in which majority of them areforeigners, are currently on board and are positioned across threedepartments within TEACH Me Services:• Trans-Disciplinary and Therapy Support (TDTS), which is responsible for mobile therapy services (i.e. physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech-language therapy) to clients in either their homes or schools.• Educational and School-Based Support (ESBS), which is responsible for providing education and school-based support through interventions, such as school visits, educational outings, competency-based programs.• Social Work, Counseling and Enrichment Support (SWCES), which is responsible for managing new and current cases, providing counseling! 4
  6. 6. and/or financial support to both clients and their families, as well as, developing enrichment programs to encourage independent living for clients.Prospective clients are only able to enroll into TEACH Me Services throughhospitals’ recommendations. After undergoing a series of assessments andinterviews, successful clients will then be regarded as cases. Figure 1 belowillustrates the different taxonomies implemented by respective departments inclassifying and managing cases. TDTS would segregate the cases into fourregions or zones (i.e. North, South, East and West). In contrast, ESBS andSWCES would categorize them based on the mainstream educational levels(i.e. primary level, secondary level and tertiary level). TDTS Classification System ESBS and SWCES Classification SystemFigure 1: Classification of cases based on geography and mainstreameducation levels.Cross-departmental collaboration is strongly encouraged, especially whenAWWA places high importance on the welfare and success rate of everycase. This allows employees with different specialization and expertise tocooperate and devise a solution on how to further integrate the client intosociety.In addition, TEACH Me Services have recently adopted an evidence-basedpractice (EBP) culture, which encourages its employees to incorporate theirrespective knowledge and/or expertise area with existing best (or effective)scientific evidences (e.g. therapy and/or assessment methods) in order toresolve the unique problem faced by each case. Such practices highlight thechanging role of AWWA in becoming an innovative voluntary welfareorganization.! 5
  7. 7. Holding on closely to its aim in empowering and enriching clients’ lives,TEACH Me Services strongly believes in collaborating with other voluntarywelfare organizations such as Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC).3. COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE (COP) IMPLEMENTATION FRAMEWORK3.1. Definition and Rationale of Communities of Practice (CoPs)According to Wenger, McDermott and Snyder (2004), “Communities ofPractice (CoPs) are groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems,or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise inthis area by interacting on an ongoing basis.” The essence of communities ofpractice (CoPs), as emphasized by Hubert et al. (2001), is all about groups ofpeople coming together – by a common interest and passion – to shareknowledge and learn from one another, be it face-to-face and/or virtually.In a world where knowledge constitutes the most vital and scarce resource,organisations are seeking ever more innovative and economically viable waysto leverage their knowledge for competitive advantage. Similarly to the case ofTEACH Me Services, the implementation of the Community of Practice (CoP)will highlight the changing role of AWWA in becoming an innovative voluntarywelfare organization.3.2. Five Phases in Building Communities of Practice (CoPs)Unlike formal departments and task forces, communities of practice (CoPs)are dynamic social structures that require “cultivation” so that they canemerge and grow. Hence, it is important to bear in mind that the key factor ofdefining and sustaining a community of practice (CoP) is the ongoingparticipating of the community members themselves.Figure 2 below illustrates the CoP Implementation Framework, which will beused throughout the project. The framework consists of five phases – inquiry,design, prototype, launch, and grow/sustain –, which will involve strongcollaboration and support from the employees and management in TEACHMe Services and AWWA.! 6
  8. 8. Figure 2: Community of practice (CoP) implementation framework.3.2.1. Phase 1: InquiryPhase 1 is a stage of exploration and inquiry, in which several importantelements – i.e. audience, purpose, strategic goals, and vision for thecommunity – will be identified. In this phase, a needs assessment will beconducted first to gather inputs from other employees about its intention toimplement a community of practice (CoP), as well as other factors (e.g. CoPbenefits, organisational issues) in TEACH Me Services. The assessment maybe conducted through informal discussions, formal interviews, surveys, and/orfocus groups. The data collected will help to clearly define the benefits of thecommunity, major topic areas for community content, and vision, missionstatement and goals of community. An estimate of the costs for communitytechnology, special technical development, facilitation, and support will becreated as well. In addition, the recruitment of members into the core team willcommence to represent the community audience.3.2.2. Phase 2: DesignPhase 2 is a design stage that involves defining the activities, technologies,group processes, and roles that will support the community’s goals. In thisphase, the newly recruited core team members will brainstorm and design thecommunity by:• Identifying the roles of community members, as well as, the tasks/activities that they would to like to carry out in the community• Laying out tentative schedule for community meetings (i.e. weekly, monthly or annual basis)• Creating timeline for the community’s development• Identifying the any face-to-face meeting opportunities (i.e. guest speakers)! 7
  9. 9. • Exploring appropriate technologies that will help to facilitate community meetings, manage documents/discussions and encourage ongoing participation.3.2.3. Phase 3: PrototypePhase 3, the prototype stage, involves initiating a pilot community with aselect group of key stakeholders. In this phase, the team will be able to testfor assumptions and refine the strategy by:• Selecting the most appropriate technology to support the goals of the pilot community.• Designing the community environment and have a group test the functionality through case scenarios.• Implementing the pilot community and giving access to the core team and pilot audience.• Seeding the community with content.• Facilitating events and activities to exercise the prototype, focusing on achieving short-term, value-added goals.• Ensuring that roles are clear and that support structures are in place.• Measuring success and reporting on the results of the prototype to sponsors and stakeholders.3.2.4. Phase 4: LaunchPhase 4 is the launch stage where the community is rolled out to a broaderaudience over a period of time in ways that engage new members and deliverimmediate benefits. In other words, the community members are ready torecruit new members to the community.In this phase, the community members will use the experience and resultsfrom the prototype phase to improve and promote the community environmentto wider audience. Community charter, which includes the mission, vision,goals, and member norms and agreements, are clearly established andarticulated among the new recruits. Not to mention, an orientation will beprovided to briefly educate the new recruits about communities of practice(CoP).3.2.5. Phase 5: Grow and SustainThe final phase focuses more on growing and sustaining the community. Thegrow phase involves strategies in engaging members in collaborative learningand knowledge sharing activities, group projects, and networking events thatmeet individual, group, and organizational goals while creating an increasingcycle of participation and contribution. On the other hand, the sustain phaseinvolves strategies in cultivating and assessing performance of the communityin order to plan new strategies, goals, activities, roles, technologies, andbusiness models for the future.! 8
  10. 10. 4. COMMUNITY INQUIRY PHASE4.1. Needs AssessmentA needs assessment was first conducted, in the form of a face-to-face andemail interviews, with the employees and management of TEACH MeServices. The main objective of the needs assessment is to evaluate theviability of implementing the community of practice within the division. Toachieve the objective, the following areas are explored:• What are the issues or challenges that are currently facing in TEACH Me Services?• What does the employees think or feel about establishing a community of practice?• What do the employees wish to see in the community of practice?The results have highlighted that TEACH Me Services manages a lot of tacitknowledge. However, the division is currently facing with three majorchallenges.The first challenge is the lack in implementation of organisational practices ofcapturing tacit knowledge. Despite the division managing tacit knowledgethrough formal meetings and informal conversations, there are currently nodefined or standardized procedures/systems that allows valuable tacitknowledge to be converted explicitly, captured and stored for future use.Hence, it is difficult for practitioners to work effectively and efficiently asknowledge needed tend to be lost within TEACH Me Services.The second challenge is with regards to knowledge sharing amongemployees. As mentioned earlier, TEACH Me Services has recently adoptedan evidence-based practice (EBP) culture, which promotes the value ofcollaboration, continuous learning and knowledge sharing among itsemployees – by encouraging practitioners to incorporate their respectiveknowledge and/or expertise area with existing best (or effective) scientificevidences (e.g. therapy and/or assessment methods) in order to resolve theunique problem faced by each case. Despite the employees being receptiveof the idea, most find it very difficult to share knowledge as the division hasyet to implement an appropriate time and space for them to do so. Due to theimplementation of the mobile service, practitioners (especially the therapistsfrom TDTS department) are constantly visiting their clients in their schools orhomes for therapy or follow-up sessions. Hence, they are rarely seen in theoffice and have little time to converse with other practitioners except for duringformal weekly and semi-annual departmental meetings.The third challenge is the high employee turnover rate in TEACH MeServices. High employee turnover is an organisational problem as itassociated with high organisational memory loss – i.e. when employeesleave, valuable knowledge will leave as well. However, this posed to be a veryserious issue for TEACH Me Services especially since the division does notpractice much in capturing tacit knowledge.! 9
  11. 11. Based on the results from the needs assessment, it is hoped that thecommunity of practice (CoP) will be able to benefit the members, as well as,TEACH Me Services as a whole by:• Having formal systems of capturing tacit knowledge,• Creating the appropriate time and space for community members to share knowledge, and• Retaining current employees (in term of their knowledge), as well as, motivating newcomers (in terms of coping with work performance).In addition, the community identity is defined.As this would be the first time TEACH Me Services is being introduced to theCoP concept, the team would like to start the initiative by implementing thecommunity to practitioners in the TDTS department. Compared to the twodepartments (i.e. ESBS, SWCES, the practitioners from TDTS departmentseems to be experiencing these challenges the most.4.2. Community IdentityThe identity of the community of practice (CoP) consists of three keyelements: domain (i.e. what is the community about), community (i.e. whoshould be involved in the community), and practice (i.e. what knowledge is tobe shared, developed and documented).4.2.1. DomainThe community aims to build up the capabilities and establish a networkamong the practitioners in TEACH Me Services, who are involved in dealingwith existing and new cases.4.2.2. CommunityThe community primarily targeted at practitioners in the TDTS department (i.e.psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech-languagetherapists), who are involved in designing effective and appropriate solutionsfor each case’s problem, which are seen through and evaluated throughseveral follow-ups.4.2.3. PracticeThe various case studies and issues that are currently facing or discussing atlocal and international context, with a particular focus on enhancing welfareand success of clients in TEACH Me Services.! 10
  12. 12. 4.3. Organizational Strategy and ValueApart from sharing knowledge and learning, the essence of communities ofpractice (CoPs) is to build the strategic capabilities within the organisation. Inorder to institutionalise the community’s existence and sustain its lifecycle, thecommunity must strategically be well positioned and integrated within TEACHMe Services by ensuring that:• The community of practice is aligned with knowledge management and/or business strategies,• The community of practice is linked to other key initiatives within TEACH Me Services,• The community of practice is used as a central feature of knowledge management, and• The community of practice is selected on the basis of business opportunity and is constantly linked to TEACH Me Services strategies.4.3.1. Vision and Expected OutcomesIn the short-run, the community aims to help helping with current challengesfaced and providing expertise to fellow practitioners in TEACH Me Services.This can achieve by attempting to integrate the community into the division’skey initiatives (e.g. major projects). As illustrated in Figure 3 below, thecommunity members can act as advisors and assist project teams in solvingvarious issues and challenges. At the end of the project, the project teams willshare their outcomes and learning points with the community. Knowledgedynamics (i.e. sharing and exchanging knowledge) as very strong as thereare two-ways learning. Hence, community members will be able to enhancethe necessary skills, which will be beneficial at work.Figure 3: Integration of community of practice (CoP) to business projects.! 11
  13. 13. Envisioning that the community members have strongly build up theircapabilities and expertise during the short-run, the community will then aim todevelop innovative solutions to address upcoming or new cases’ problems inthe mid-run.Further ahead in the long term, the body of knowledge accumulated from themid-run can build TEACH Me Service’s capabilities to becoming a leadingresearch centre that specialises in major disabilities areas (e.g. CerebralPalsy, Autism). Such an established body of knowledge can also help tocreate a better identity for the non-profit (NP) industry in Singapore.4.3.2. Sponsorship and Organizational Issues• SponsorshipThe Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports (MCYS) will providesponsorship to support TEACH Me Services and the community. Thiscommitment to sponsorship is very strong, as MCYS is a constant grantor forAWWA.• BudgetThe budget for the community will directly come from the management, whichis provided annually by MCYS.• SupportEmployees and management in TEACH Me Services will provide themanpower support for running the community. Employees in TEACH MeServices can support the community by either being community members,guest speakers on transactional basis and/or project teams that requiresassistance or advices. The management, on the other hand, can provide bothfinancial (i.e. through budgeting) and non-financial (i.e. meeting logistics)support to the community.• TechnologyApart from its corporate website, TEACH Me Service has an Intranet, whichemployees usually used in their day-to-day work routine. However, TEACHMe Services does not employ sophisticated enterprise platforms andtechnologies (i.e. synchronous and asynchronous) such as SharePoint oronline community. Thus, the community members need to conduct a review toevaluate the current technological needs for both the community and TEACHMe Services.• Organisational Enabler or BarrierIn this case, the community itself is an enabler for community members tohandle cases effectively and efficiently. This, in turn, will boost the overall! 12
  14. 14. performance and strategic capabilities of TEACH Me Services and AWWA asthe whole.There are currently no major barriers identified. With respect to technologicalissues, the community needs to conduct a needs assessment to review itscurrent technologies.4.3.3. Current Success Factors and Risks• Current Success FactorsThere is a common interest, passion and commitment among the practitionersin TEACH Me Services in the welfare and success of each case. Hence, thereis a genuine need for an appropriate time and space for practitioners toconverse, share their problems, and find/accumulate resources to solve theseissues.High level of collaboration among practitioners are also seen in weekly andsemi-annual departmental meetings, which are currently used as a commonground and space to discuss about problems and exchange ideas andpossible solutions to address them.In addition, the recent adoption of evidence-based practice (EBP) culture hasfurther encourages knowledge sharing and continuous learning amongpractitioners.• Risks/Failure FactorsEven though employees are open to the proposal, issues such as havinglittle/no formal practices in capturing tacit knowledge as well as the tightschedules of practitioners may be challenging when starting a community.Hence, community members must consider these challenges when designing,launching and implementing learning activities and technologies within thecommunity.Success will require a long-term commitment as well, which may be aproblem at the organizational level without the support from the management.In addition, quick wins are not easy to find or demonstrate. However, if thecommunity is successfully designed to promote integration with key initiatives(e.g. projects), this will provide community members an opportunity and driveto collaborate and deal with real-time business challenges/issues. Not onlythe skills of community members will be enhanced, the community itself willultimately evolved to become a knowledge hub. Such success stories can beused to boost the community’s value, as well as, to institutionalise itsexistence within TEACH Me Services.! 13
  15. 15. 5. COMMUNITY DESIGN PHASE5.1. Community CultivationThere are several elements that community members need to consider inorder to cultivate a community of practice within an organisation: forms ofparticipation, orientation profile, learning activities, community roles, andtechnology.5.1.1. Forms of ParticipationFigure 4: Forms of participation• Core GroupThe core group consists of a community leader, a technology steward, andother core team members.• Active GroupIn the active group, there will be experts and active members. Experts areusually experienced practitioners who have longed stay or work in TEACH MeServices. Active members are members who actively participated in thecommunity activities and meetings. Apart from the active members, somecore members may drift to the active group.• Occasional GroupThe occasional group consists of newcomers, be it new or existing employee,who have just joined the community.! 14
  16. 16. • Peripheral GroupSome of the newcomers may drop to the peripheral group if they find thecommunity not beneficial to them or doe not addressing the issues thatrelevant to their work.• Transactional GroupNon-TDTS employees and other voluntary welfare organisations (e.g. MINDS,Autism Association) can be considered in the transactional groups – i.e. non-community members who are invited to the community as guest speakers ona transactional basis.5.1.2. Orientation Profile• MeetingsCommunity meetings will be held every second Saturdays of each month inAWWA Headquarters (Singapore). These meetings will be conducted in aform of face-to-face, which is an effective approach in learning and sharingknowledge. In typical meetings, community members will share and discusscurrent issues and case studies around a particular topic or theme. Meetingminutes will be documented and published on the Intranet for onlineasynchronous exchanges between community members.• ProjectsCommunity members feel the need to collaborate and “do” things together inorder to learn and benefit from the community. Hence, strong interest, passionand commitment are needed to support these collaborative activities. Projectsundertaken during meetings are normally in the form of discussion of casestudies and issues faced at local and/or international contexts. At times, thecommunity members may also act as advisors and assist project teams incase’s problems. As community members are becoming morefamiliar/confident with their roles and capabilities, they will be motivated totake undertake challenging projects such as creating outputs for membersand other employees in TEACH Me Services to help make better decisions(e.g. newsletters, publications, etc.).• Access to ExpertiseAs the employees in TEACH Me Services are constantly dealing with thewelfare of the clients (i.e. cases), the community members are in need to getrapid access to information and advice. After several meetings, communitymembers will be able to identify and declare their expertise. In addition, thecommunity will sometimes invite outside experts, from non-TDTS departmentsin TEACH Me Services and/or other voluntary welfare organisations (e.g.MINDS, The Spastic Childrens Association of Singapore, Autism Association,etc.) on a transactional basis. These outside experts have existing and close! 15
  17. 17. networks with TEACH Me Services and thus, will be familiar with thecommunity.• RelationshipsThe community members will be drawn to the community due to theopportunities provided – i.e. the opportunity for members to learn from andconnect with other experienced practitioners. It also seems that thepractitioners in TEACH Me Services have a relatively close relationshipamong each other due to the common interest, passion and commitment inthe welfare and success of the cases. Hence, these elements will positivelyimpact on the level of trust and collaboration in the community.• Individual ParticipationSince the idea of implementing the community is relatively new in TEACH MeServices, the expectations in individual participation among communitymembers is low. For now, the community is created to be as open as possiblein order for community members to be familiar with how it is run. However, theexpectation of individual participation (i.e. participating in meetings and/oronline discussions) among community members will increase over time.• ContextAs mentioned earlier, the goal of the community is to build up the capabilitiesand establish a network among the practitioners in TEACH Me Services inorder to solve each case’s problem successfully. With that in mind, thecommunity is created to facilitate openness in learning and sharing knowledgeamong community members. Community activities will be designed tointegrate, as closely as possible, with practitioners’ work. In addition, theactivities and initiatives undertaken are considered to help promote thecommunity’s visibility within TEACH Me Services.• Community CultivationThere is an important need to constantly track the health of the community inorder to increase its cultivation and sustainability within TEACH Me Services.Formal feedback systems and After-Action Reviews (AARs) are goodapproaches implemented, at the end of the meeting sessions and/orsignificant events, by the community to keep track of the community’s healthperformance, as well as, the usefulness of content shared. Data gatheredfrom these approaches will be used in renewing the community’s activities,technologies and strategies.• Content PublishingContent (e.g. documents, journals, case studies, etc.) shared and discussedamong the community members will be frequently published in the corporateIntranet. This will allow the community members to constantly be keptupdated about the community at any time and space. Non-members will also! 16
  18. 18. be able to see the brief summaries of the meetings (along with the owners ofthe documents), which will help to promote the community’s existence inTEACH Me Services. However, there may be a need to apply levels of accesscontrol between the core team, community members and non-members.• Open-Ended ConversationThe themes are designed/selected to be very broad in order to encourageongoing open-ended conversations among community members. Interestinglearning points or quotes from these conversations will be captured in asummarized format and shared via the Intranet. However, a formal repositoryis needed to archive these conversations to ensure that community memberswill be able to access it at any time and place.5.1.3. Learning ActivitiesThere are many learning activities that the community can choose toimplement during meetings and carries different purposes: exchanges,productive inquiries, building shared understanding, producing assets,creating standards, formal access to knowledge and visits.The community can first start implementing informal learning activities tocreate a sense of openness and familiarity among the community members.Firstly, community members can build a shared understanding byimplementing hot topics discussions. Every meeting, community members willcontribute topics they think would be interesting or important to discuss in thecommunity and write them in post-it. At the end of the session, the communitymembers will share and vote for the hot topics to discuss. Communitymembers can also share case studies, news and personal stories to facilitateongoing exchanges of knowledge within the community. In addition,community members can apply After-Action Reviews (AARs) at the end of themeeting sessions and/or significant events to keep track of the community’shealth performance.The community can also implement formal learning activities to recognize themembers’ contribution, and ultimately increase the community’s existence inTEACH Me Services. Community members can act as advisor and undertakelearning projects by working together with projects teams in solving real-timeissues. This will further enhanced the members’ capabilities, which willpositively impacted their work performances.As the community members becomes familiar and comfortable in thecommunity, they will be able to organise trainings and workshops, invite guestspeakers and other initiatives that enables formal access to knowledge withinTEACH Me Services. In addition, they will undertake projects – i.e. producingoutputs (e.g. newsletters, publications, etc.) – for members and otheremployees in TEACH Me Services to help make better decisions.! 17
  19. 19. 5.1.4. Community Roles• Community LeaderThe community leader is a person who intentionally leads in the cultivationand sustainability of the community. Apart from having great passion, thecommunity leader should be a practitioner with a very good reputation in thecommunity and has great interpersonal skills. The roles of the communityleader involve organizing and structuring community learning activities,energising participation among members, maintaining the rhythm ofcommunity, as well as, bridging connections with the sponsors, managementand the community.• Technology StewardThe technology steward is a person who bridges the technical aspects ofonline platforms and the needs of the community. Apart from having adequateexperience in the workings of the community, the technology steward shouldhas a good understanding and interest of technologies. He also need to workneed to work alongside with the IT experts to implement appropriatetechnologies/platforms according to the needs of the community.• Core Group MembersThe core group members are the ones who care about the community andare willing to help the community leader in cultivating the community. Theyhelp to sustain the community by actively organizing and/or participating in thecommunity activities, and contributing to build the knowledge base byproviding subject matter expertise. Core group members are also consideredto be the community’s champions as they help newcomers in familiarising withthe workings of the community, as well as, promote the community to the non-members in TEACH Me Services. Hence, they are the best people to createstronger sense of personal ownership and belongingness among thecommunity members.• Subject Matter ExpertsSubject matter experts are experienced practitioners who are veryknowledgeable in their areas of expertise. Apart from being domain experts,they should be highly respected among peers in TEACH Me Services and areprepared to invest more time and efforts in the community. Their primary rolewould be to act as advisers to the community members.• FacilitatorThe facilitator should possess excellent facilitating skills and has a naturalability to facilitate dynamic dialogues and interactions face-to-face and/orvirtually. Apart from having good interpersonal skills, he or she must beenthusiastic, as well as have a positive sense of humor and a “can do”attitude. The facilitator must also have an ability to manage group conflicts.! 18
  20. 20. • BrokerThe broker, who has memberships from multiple communities, helps to bridgeknowledge from other communities to the community in TEACH Me Services.Apart from being the community’s representative, the broker should have anopen and sociable personality and is keen to meet/network with membersfrom multiple communities. In addition, he or she should be comfortablesharing his perspectives learned from other communities.5.1.5. TechnologyEmails and phones are commonly used as individual tools and group tools forcollaboration and communication purposes. The corporate Intranet is used toasynchronously update both members and non-members about thecommunity. However, there are currently no tools for reification andsynchronous purposes.6. COMMUNITY PROTOTYPE PHASE6.1. Discovery and Preparation6.1.1. Setting Pre-launch CommitteeThe core team aims to initiate the pilot community to the practitioners from theTDTS department in TEACH Me Services (i.e. the same group of people thatthe actual community wishes to build around, as mentioned in the communityidentity). In this case, the community members are considered as central tothe pilot community while the employees and experienced therapists areconsidered as supporting members.The network will gradually expand to the rest of departments in TEACH MeServices as the community grows over time. Practitioners from various fieldswithin the TDTS department – i.e. physiotherapy, occupational therapy andspeech-language therapy and psychology – are encouraged to be involved.Considering the mobile nature of the practitioners, it would be convenient toconduct the community meetings and launch events in the AWWAHeadquarters. Ideally, at least two or three representatives from each field inthe TDTS department should be present.Senior doctors and other employees in TEACH Me Services are invited for thepre-launch meeting. Members from the Ministry of Community, Youth andSports (MCYS) will also be invited for the launch, as it has been a majorsupport for both AWWA and the community.6.1.2. Overall Approach to the Launch EventThe core team will opt for a whole community launch based on two reasons:! 19
  21. 21. • There is a strong identity associated with the community domain, and• The community membership is clearly defined – i.e. practitioners from the TDTS department are eligible to join.The only obstacle is trying to reach out to connect as many targetedpractitioners as possible for the launch. The community is projected to coverthe entire organisation as time progresses. To begin, the community willconduct regular meetings on the second Saturday in each month. Duringmeetings, all community members should get equal opportunities to freelydiscuss and solve problems among one another, as well as, learning fromeach other. In addition, the community is intended to enhance members’networks by connecting with other experienced practitioners within TEACHMe Services and/or the non-profit industry.6.1.3. Preliminary Assessment of ParticipantsHaving a clear understanding on the profile of the prospective communitymembers is needed beforehand in order to reach out to them more effectively,and ultimately helps in acknowledging the potential of the collaboration andcommunity.Some education is necessary as the prospective community members arevery unfamiliar with in the concept of communities of practice (CoPs). So, theopening speech should address the importance of community and theirburning issues at hand, preferably by the core team leader.The problems and issues that the sectors point out are as follows:• Lack of collaboration• No proper document maintainedIn addition, the community leader will have to be identified. The Ministry ofCommunity, Youth and Sports (MCYS) will also be taking on the role ofsponsor with the higher management from TEACH Me Services and AWWAas the advisory board.7. COMMUNITY LAUNCH PHASE7.1. Invitation to the LaunchApart from members in the pre-launch committee and core team, the entireTDTS department will receive an invitation for the community launch.Invitation will be mailed to the sponsor (i.e. MCYS) and the advisory boardmembers (i.e. higher management from TEACH Me Services and AWWA).The invitation will be also be pasted onto notice boards for non-members inTEACH Me Services are welcome to come and participate in the launchevent.! 20
  22. 22. 7.2. Meeting LogisticsThe core team will prepare the agenda of the launch event. There will also bea facilitator and emcee of the event, as well. High management from TEACHMe Services/AWWA and the Sponsor will be the honoured guest speakers forthe event. Core team leader will open the event with a brief generalintroduction on the community. Facilitator will then share the idea of thecommunity and explain the plan to the team members. Time will be allocatedto the opening speaker and the guest speaker for their respective speeches.The conference room in TEACH ME Services has been fixed as the officialvenue for the event. The core team will arrange the refreshments.7.3 Launch Workshop Design7.3.1. Education and Context SettingThe education and context setting is devised to ensure that the community issteered towards a focused purpose and ensuring that the members areproperly introduced.In this case, the core team leader will provide a brief introduction oncommunities of practice (CoPs) for the benefit of new members who may nothave the prior knowledge on the concept. Not only it creates a platform forexchanging ideas, but it is also a platform for acquiring new knowledge.• The OpeningBased on the launch workshop design stated earlier, one of the coremembers will deliver a brief introduction to notable members and guests as aprecursor in setting to the tone of the meeting.This will be follow by the core team leader, who will give a speech on how thecommunity will benefit the members and the reasons on the importance ofmembers’ participation. The history behind the formation of the communityand the main players of the core group will also be shared.• Sharing on Communities of Practice (CoPs)In terms of providing a common understanding on the community, the newmembers and guests will be given a basic presentation on how the communityoperates and the types of group rules that they need to adhere to. Informationshared would be brief; the sole purpose is to provide them a basicunderstanding on community of practice (CoPs) without confusing themfurther with complicated concepts.! 21
  23. 23. • Getting to Know Each OtherOnce the introduction process is completed, members are given ample time toget to know other members through the “Getting-To-Know-You” refreshmentsession. A quick introduction of individuals will be given, with opportunities ofsharing each individuals personal projects and expertise.7.3.2. Community Design and Organizational Context SharingA suggestion form will be collected at the end of the event in order tounderstand the needs of the members and how the community can be furtherimproved. Questions, such as frequency of meetings and preferredcommunity activities, will be asked in the suggestion form. Members can alsoprovide valuable suggestions on how the community can be further improved.Actions will be taken and follow in the subsequent meetings.The practitioners from the TDTS department will form the core member group.Experts (e.g. chief doctors) from the TDTS department, which may or may notbe a community member, will open each regular meeting with an inspiringspeech. The core group would enable a multi-faceted approach coveringareas from case studies to academic studies. The Ministry of Community,Youth and Sports (MCYS) will provide sponsorship for the community.• Overall Flow of the CommunityThe launch event will be conduct as a full day event. The session will beginwith a brief introduction of the community and refreshment session, followedby talks from senior practitioners from the TDTS department who wouldwelcome and share with fellow members on the best practices.There will be a “Getting-To-Know-You” refreshment session at the beginning,as well as, dinner at the end. This social activity would allow fellow communitymembers, practitioners and experts to interact and network within thecommunity. The session will end by getting initial feedback form from all themembers of the day.• Post Launch Follow-UpCategory CommentsPossible The meeting is will conduct on second Saturday of every month. Asactivities space build up, the community can split into sub-groups within the TDTS department.Sponsorship The Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports (MCYS) will provide sponsorship for the community.Resources Core team will take care of refreshment during launch day. However, sponsorship is needed for refreshment during community meetings.! 22
  24. 24. Assessment Meeting minutes will be taken and follow-up actions to problems faced would be noted.Support Members’ participation, collaboration and commitment are need to support the community growth.Technology Technology steward will upload the summary of the event in corporate Intranet website, for now. However, as the community grows over time, As a separate website for the community will be developed.8. COMMUNITY GROW AND SUSTAIN PHASE8.1. Types of Activities• Open ConversationsThe themes are selected to be very broad in order to encourage ongoingopen-ended conversations among community members. Interesting learningpoints or quotes from these conversations will be capture in a summarizedformat. However, all members who attended the community are free to voiceout their opinions and views on the matters being discussed with norestrictions. In addition, a formal repository is need to archive theseconversations to ensure that community members will be able to access it atany time and place.• Motivation SpeechesIn the launch event, the core team leader will give an inspiration speech aboutthe community. This will then be followed up in the regular communitymeetings by inviting a guest speaker to come and encourage the prospectivemembers to participate and involve more in community. As TEACH MeServices is part of a non-profit organisation, low employee turnover isenvisioned. To further reduce the division’s turnover, the community mustensure that the wellness/needs of the prospective members are fulfilled. Notto mention, continuous encouragement is needed.• World CaféWorld Café is a good approach for producing multiple perspectives on a topic,to support brainstorming and problem solving among the members. Thisapproach is very useful in finding the common ground or mediatingdifferences among the members, as well as, creating a common vision. It isvery ideal for idea generation and issue exploration, especially when thecommunity is actively helping the project teams in project-related issues. Byinvolving in the World Café, sense of collaboration among communitymembers (and project teams) will increase.! 23
  25. 25. • Case StudiesThe community can encourage knowledge sharing and learning by providingan appropriate space for the members to share their case studies. Communitymembers can share both cases that are current and/or have been solved. Anyissues and suggestion in solving the following cases can be share during theevent. All members are expected to contribute by providing valuable ideas,insights and suggestions during the community meetings.• Fish Bowl TechniqueThe Fish Bowl technique is an excellent approach that facilitate knowledgeexchange among expert and novice practitioners in a form of dialogue. Eachgroup has an opportunity to discuss the issue while the other group observes,much like looking at the fish in a fish bowl. The facilitator is responsible forencouraging discussion during the small group discussion, keeping thediscussion only among the inner circle, and then drawing out individual andgroup reactions during the combined discussion later.The structure of the Fish Bowl technique helps to avoid tensions and conflictsfrom constant direct confrontations between the experts and novices, whichcan be very unhealthy for the community. If facilitated properly, the techniquewill encourage ongoing participation, as well as, allow both groups (especiallythe novice practitioners) to gather valuable insights and boost their problem-solving capabilities.8.2. Community Health Assessment:In order to track the health of the community, the following events will takeplace:• Regular updates about meeting, workshops, events and addition of new members will be mail and present to the community members as well as the sponsors/high management.• Opinions from the members will be collected at the end of every meetings, to ensure community’s renewal (i.e. in this case, any improvements and requests will be followed up in the next meeting).• Conducting feedback session, in the form of surveys, will be helpful to understand the member’s needs and work performance (i.e. how far has these community meetings helped in their regular work).• Shared contents, including the brief summaries of meetings, will be recorded and documented properly for future use.9. CONCLUSIONKnowledge only has true value when it is shared. A community of practice(CoP) is the place where knowledge come as a bud to the needed person and! 24
  26. 26. gets blossom in right hand and gives fruitful result at right time. Organisationsare a good learning field for several reasons:• They have motivation and resource to move up the learning curve quickly• The experience of work-related communities of pratice will help the members to take leadership in creating similar structures in others part of their lives at work.“Firms that understand how to translate the power of communities intosuccessful knowledge organisation will be the architects of tomorrow – notonly because they will be more successful in the market-place, but alsobecause they will serve as a learning laboratory for exploring how to designthe world as learning system” (Wenger et.al., 2002). In other words, theauthors addressed that communities of practice (CoPs) will help theorganisation adapt to emerging threats and opportunities of new economy inseveral ways. The value of communities is not only to manage the knowledgeresource, but also to help organisation succeed in a highly competitiveeconomy.! 25
  27. 27. 10. REFERENCESAWWA. (2010). Asian Women’s Welfare Association: annual report 2010 –2011. Singapore: AWWA.Hubert et. al. (2001). Building effective communities. Henley KnowledgeManagement Forum.Wenger, E., McDermott, R. A., and Snyder, W. (2002). Cultivatingcommunities of practice, a guide to managing knowledge. Massachusetts:Harvard Business Press.! 26

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