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Talk at "NGOs and knowledge management" event in Brussels for the EU's development arm.

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  1. 1. Co mmunities of Practice as the f uture tool of Cooperation Some stories and ideas Miguel Castro Cornejo miguel@ macuarium . com Macuarium Network SL Knowledge Sharing in Networked NGOs Brussels, October 29th 2003
  2. 2. A short intro <ul><li>What is Macuarium </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Big CoP system (lots of connected Communities of Practice) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Volunteer, not for profit, “not funded by anyone” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Worldwide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>With a research side </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why we are here </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Though we could help other people with a similar problem </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We have done it before </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How we prepared </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What we do </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How could that be applied to NGOs our people work with </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What changes and opportunities arose </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Please interrupt as you wish: this is a workshop </li></ul>
  3. 3. What is a Community of Practice <ul><li>What is a Community of Practice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lot of people working toward something they believe in. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Geographically disperse. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning from sharing each other’s experience in solving the same problems. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Supporting each other. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Getting better and more efficient all the time (tacit > explicit > tacit). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Involving the society they live in. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What is NOT a Community of Practice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A particular set of software or tools you can buy. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A one-way PR portal. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A training system with teachers and alumns. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An expensive cure-all consulting project. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Networked CoPs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Communities of Practice that can use online methods por contacting and for sharing information. </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. What’s cooperation all about <ul><li>Civil society </li></ul><ul><li>Being passionate about something important </li></ul><ul><li>Involving the right people </li></ul><ul><li>Getting things done </li></ul><ul><li>Getting the most out of limited resources </li></ul><ul><li>Now, how does a CoP help there? </li></ul>     
  5. 5. Unite the dots <ul><li>VIH NGO example </li></ul><ul><li>Beneficiaries / affected people </li></ul><ul><li>Communities / Families </li></ul><ul><li>Volunteers </li></ul><ul><li>Employees </li></ul><ul><li>Managers (line-less) </li></ul><ul><li>Governments and institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Members / Sponsors </li></ul><ul><li>General public </li></ul>Same problems, shared practice Official announcement lists? One-way portals? Face to face expensive meetings? Magazines, guides, manuals? “Knowledge repositories”? Expert networks? Let there be a Community of Practice
  6. 6. Unite the dots <ul><li>VIH NGO example </li></ul><ul><li>Private, screened forum for affected people to share experiences (no names). </li></ul><ul><li>Restricted access (but legible) forum for doctors and stakeholders. </li></ul><ul><li>Restricted access (but legible) forum for families. </li></ul><ul><li>Private forum for coordination of volunteer work across the country. </li></ul><ul><li>Absolute control of privacy and authentification. </li></ul><ul><li>End isolation </li></ul><ul><li>Find best practices </li></ul><ul><li>Find common problems to solve </li></ul><ul><li>Allow easy implication of community and institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Useful knowledge open to all the world </li></ul><ul><li>More awareness </li></ul>
  7. 7. United we learn <ul><li>Feeling isolated (agricultural dev., human and child rights, VIH, Down syndrome...) </li></ul><ul><li>Reinvent the wheel (and some bad methods – think Down support groups who still advocate...) </li></ul><ul><li>Identify trusty partners... </li></ul><ul><li>Food and Hunger project example (who to deal with where, how to do it, what’s the right price). </li></ul><ul><li>Any problem is enormous if it’s just ours. </li></ul>     
  8. 8. Giving a voice to local / affected people <ul><li>Laos / Tibet / Bolivia, (Ueli). </li></ul><ul><li>Develop the people and the institutions , not just plug a hole. </li></ul><ul><li>Let them share in the (right) conversations. </li></ul><ul><li>Let them learn to do it themselves. </li></ul><ul><li>Let them put their own concerns on the table. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s not bringing a cure, it’s training nurses. </li></ul> 
  9. 9. Networked means now <ul><li>Emergency management </li></ul><ul><li>Coordination </li></ul><ul><li>Latest news </li></ul><ul><li>In-the-day asynchronous answers </li></ul><ul><li>The useful knowledge at the useful place </li></ul><ul><li>No unexpected delays, no breaks, fast response to problems (Hunger relief example) </li></ul>     
  10. 10. Getting a message across <ul><li>Cost of operating a vibrant newschannel? </li></ul><ul><li>A good community can publish over 100 newspieces a day. </li></ul><ul><li>Word of mouth. </li></ul><ul><li>Implication (400 active users / over 150 people paying membership cards) and more implication (6.000 people helping each other solve real-world problems) is what gets the message across (AEAT example). </li></ul><ul><li>Write books, launch lobbying campaigns, organise events, promote people or causes... </li></ul>     
  11. 11. Reduce the effect of volunteer rotation <ul><li>The knowledge is in the house (memory) </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t really go away (plugged in the CoP) </li></ul><ul><li>Volunteers already know before becoming mods (a moderator is someone who already moderated) </li></ul><ul><li>Low time-charge of moderation </li></ul><ul><li>Low time-charge of CoP admin </li></ul><ul><li>... especially comparing with a content portal. </li></ul>     
  12. 12. Manage as needed <ul><li>VIH NGO case: three levels of privacy , concern about predation, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Project management (tasks, deadlines, people, contacts, completions, alarms) </li></ul><ul><li>Activist coordination </li></ul><ul><li>Public participation and content generation ( KM ) </li></ul><ul><li>Local involvement layer </li></ul><ul><li>Edit, ban, moderate... It’s your network </li></ul><ul><li>You put the controls where you want them </li></ul>   
  13. 13. Digital divides needn’t stop CoPs <ul><li>The right choice of tools can allow contact in Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Laos and Barcelona. </li></ul><ul><li>Integrate simple, cheap email tools with complex forum or project management... if you need them . </li></ul><ul><li>CoPs can be done on a shoestring. </li></ul><ul><li>Email, internet centres ( see Cindy’s example ), SMS, well-designed tools. </li></ul><ul><li>Put the experts at the point where they are needed (and the real-world experience in touch with the “experts”) </li></ul>     
  14. 14. Costs? What costs? <ul><li>Cut down on communications costs </li></ul><ul><li>Cut down on travel costs </li></ul><ul><li>Cut down on expert time </li></ul><ul><li>Reuse knowledge and practice </li></ul><ul><li>Boost efficiency </li></ul><ul><li>Open Source freeware, or cheap software </li></ul><ul><li>Volunteer moderators / facilitators / editors </li></ul><ul><li>(Some consulting, yes, probably) </li></ul>     
  15. 15. Questions and cases <ul><li>How does this apply to...? </li></ul><ul><li>Yes, but . How can a particular obstacle be solved? </li></ul><ul><li>I have an example that...? </li></ul><ul><li>Could you give an example of...? </li></ul><ul><li>What should we do to...? </li></ul><ul><li>We have until 14,30, or during networking sessions. </li></ul><ul><li>Miguel Cornejo Castro </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>