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Communities of Practice - Increasing inclusiveness, value and collaboration? Real trends or wishful thinking?

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Presentation by Neil Pakenham-Walsh (Dgroups Foundation) and Ivan Kulis (ECDPM) at the Eldis 20th Anniversary workshop - Brighton, 15 September 2015

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Communities of Practice - Increasing inclusiveness, value and collaboration? Real trends or wishful thinking?

  1. 1. Communities of Practice Increasing inclusiveness? Increasing value? Increasing collaboration? Real trends or wishful thinking? Neil Pakenham-Walsh & Ivan Kulis (with thanks to Adrian Bannister)
  2. 2. What are CoPs? “A community of practice is a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do, and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” http://wenger-trayner.com/
  3. 3. • Virtual CoPs with a focus on international development, health and social justice. • Some virtual CoPs work towards an agreed shared vision, eg HIFA (‘Community of Purpose’). • For the purpose of our presentation, the term CoPs does not include: • project teams • groups that are exclusive (eg groups whose membership is largely or wholly confined to a single organisation or professional group) Virtual CoPs in international devt
  4. 4. • For the purpose of our presentation, we are looking especially at transparent, virtual CoPs that are open to anyone. • Transformational - transcend organisations, geographical location, and professional status. Virtual CoPs in international devt
  5. 5. Examples of CoPs KM4Dev (Knowledge Management for Development) HIFA (Healthcare Information For All) Pelican (Evaluation and communication in development cooperation) (The above are examples of Dgroups, but there are many other platforms, non-commercial & commercial)
  6. 6. Why are CoPs important? Sustainable Development Goals: “This Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity… All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan…”
  7. 7. Trends or wishful thinking? Three ‘trends’. We think these trends are actually happening and that they are hugely important. We propose them to start a discussion and debate to continue tomorrow. You may or may not agree. You may want to propose different trends. Vital for the future not only of CoPs, but for international development generally. CoPs have the potential to make a huge contribution to international development, provided they are supported and enabled towards inclusiveness, value and collaboration.
  8. 8. 1.Increasing inclusiveness? Trends: ● Increased connectivity ● Increased mobile phone ownership ● Increased social interaction and knowledge sharing ● Political commitment to increase inclusiveness
  9. 9. Inclusiveness: opportunities ● More and more people will be able to participate in CoPs ● Increase in knowledge sharing, joint knowledge production, content curation, etc. ● Ability to hear voices that currently can not be heard ● Increasing sophistication on machine translation and accessibility tools
  10. 10. Inclusiveness: challenges ● Access does not mean inclusiveness ● Psychological barriers to participate in an online CoP (eg. communication apprehension) ● “Social” and CoPs could be perceived as a political threat (Arab spring) ● Personal and professional reticence to express political views in a CoP ● CoPs are mainly in English ● Technical barriers will remain
  11. 11. Inclusiveness: call for action ● Support CoPs towards greater inclusiveness ● Enable all global citizens to contribute to international development and social justice, regardless of their language, professional status, educational level, and sociocultural background.
  12. 12. 2. Increasing value? Trends: ● Increasing value to ○ CoP participants ○ Organisations ○ Global partnership for sustainable development (SDGs) ● M&E is improving (although still very difficult)
  13. 13. Opportunities ● Increasing value to ○ CoP participants ⇒ enhance social and personal learning + personal profiling ○ Organisations ⇒ capture tacit knowledge + corporate visibility and networking ○ Global partnership for sustainable development (SDGs) ⇒ catalyse multidisciplinary collaboration + inform policy making
  14. 14. Challenges Increasing value to CoP participants ⇒ lack of time to read and engage + difficulty to find the relevant CoP Organisations ⇒ for administrators: lack of courses on online CoP management skills + CoP open nature can be perceived negatively Global partnership for sustainable development (SDGs) ⇒ fragmented ecosystem meaning that we are unable to function collectively + lack of research on the impact of CoPs
  15. 15. Call for action CoPs committed to gathering evidence of • Member needs • Explicit added value • Online CoP management practices that work in specific contexts We should support CoPs through Research on CoPs impact Providing courses on online CoP management
  16. 16. 3. Increasing collaboration? Trends: - Collaboration within CoPs - Collaboration among CoPs - Growing global ‘culture of collaboration’ (SDGs)
  17. 17. Opportunities The emergence of CoPs is a new and exciting phenomenon in an increasingly connected world. Collaboration among all stakeholders in international development and social justice is possible, including and especially those who are currently excluded and disadvantaged. This has the potential progressively to improve international development policy and practice.
  18. 18. Challenges The current ecosystem of CoPs is highly fragmented and their number is increasing, with much duplication and overlap. There is no easy way for individuals to identify the CoP that might be most useful for them. Once one is a member of a CoP it is not always easy to identify potential collaborators from among the other members. Triangle of public sector, private sector and civil society Political and commercial influences against true collaboration for vested interests
  19. 19. Call for action: • Communities of practice: - promote inclusiveness, value, collaboration - global map of CoPs - demonstrate impact • Organisations and funders to embrace the potential of CoPs and provide an enabling environment for CoPs to reach their full potential.
  20. 20. Conclusion CoPs have a huge unrealised potential to contribute to international development. Three important contributions: Increasing inclusivneness, Increasing value, Increasing collaboration We have outlined some of the trends, challenges and opportunities we see for the future of CoPs. There are doubtless many others that we haven’t thought of. We look forward to your comments and suggestions.
  21. 21. Thank you

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