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Demonstrating value with Communities Of Practice


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How do you demonstrate or even measure the value of collaboration and knowledge sharing? This presentation is based on over 7 years experience gained implementing on-line communities for the UK public sector.

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Demonstrating value with Communities Of Practice

  1. 1. Demonstrating Value With Communities Of Practice December 2012 Steve Dale: Twitter: @stephendale, @collabor8nowMonday, 3 December 2012
  2. 2. What I will cover 1. What’s the point of online communities? 2. Creating value for community members. 3. How do you measure value?Monday, 3 December 2012
  3. 3. 1. What’s The Point Of Online Communities?Monday, 3 December 2012
  4. 4. Local government in England and wales employs a workforce of 2 million people across 411 local authorities. Each authority is working to deliver the same 700 services to their residents. Communities of Practice (CoP) platform launched 2006. 120,000 Registered Users and 2000+ CoPs by 2011.Monday, 3 December 2012It as not quite 700 different processes for delivering the same 700 services, but there were lots of opportunities for sharing good practice and squeezing out greater efficiencies throughcollaboration and knowledge sharing across the local government sector.
  5. 5. Industrial age practices are no longer relevant to the 21st Century Knowledge Economy Labour is replaceable, talent is not. (H Jarche)Monday, 3 December 2012Routine tasks are increasingly being outsourced. Simple repetitive tasks are done my machines and robots, freeing humans to create value, improve processes and innovate.Labour is replaceable. Talent is not (ref Harold Jarche).
  6. 6. What did this achieve?Monday, 3 December 2012A silo’d environment encourages silo’d thinking. Humans are by nature social animals, and hence why such as environment as pictured here encouraged the “water cooler” conversations to flourish. For someworks it was the only communal space available.
  7. 7. More than a third of enterprise employees are working outside the firewall and need tools that keep them connected with their peers and business applications. Source: ForresterMonday, 3 December 2012In these austere times, more organisations are looking at how they can reduce costs and improve efficiencies. The cost of office space and office services is coming under increasing scrutiny. The upside of thisis that more agile working processes are being introduced, including more working from home, and office desk sharing. However, organisations need to ensure that remote working doesn’t mean isolation, anthat home workers must have the right tools to ensure they are connected with their team members, their peers, their managers and the data/information that need to do their jobs.
  8. 8. In search of relevance Knowledge workers spend up to 30% of their time each day looking for data. Source: Butler Group 50% of employee searches for specific data fail to find the data. Source: IDC Static intranets and e-mail are not effective for helping employees find the information they are looking for.Monday, 3 December 2012We are increasingly information rich and time poor. Finding the right information at the right time has been is a panacea that is not being met by most Intranets, which lag far behind the capabilities ofcommercial/web search engines. Intranets need to be re-architected to become more than just content management systems. They need to incorporate linked-date capabilities (semantic search),personalisation and more social tools.
  9. 9. “Social” Is The New Economy You will need to know We share what this sometime needwill know to know You will so I to You will need We share whatwe know this sometime so I will send it to youthis sometime so I will now We share know we what send it to you now we know send it to you now I know I can find what I need when I need it. Email Social MediaMonday, 3 December 2012Social Media is changing behaviours. People who are familiar with sharing content on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter are far more at ease with sharing information with work colleagues.Enterprise social media systems are gradually removing some of the dependencies on email, though email remains an effective 1:1, secure and regulated communications medium and isunlikely to disappear in the medium or long term.
  10. 10. 2. Creating value for community members.Monday, 3 December 2012
  11. 11. Collaborative Working – some distinctions Purpose Members Adhesive Duration Formal work To deliver a Employees who Job requirements Until group product or reports to the and org structure organisational service group’s manager restructuring Project team To accomplish a Employees Project Until project task assigned by senior milestones and completion management goals Social To collect and Friends and Mutual needs and As long as people networks pass on acquaintances interests have a reason to information connect Community of To develop Members who Passion, As long as Practice members’ select commitment there is capabilities; to themselves and interest in build and identification maintaining exchange with the the group knowledge group’s expertise KIN, Warwick Business SchoolMonday, 3 December 2012The major part of this presentation is focused on Communities of Practice (CoPs) – but what are the distinguishing characteristics of a CoP? Arguably the most important characteristic isthat members are self-selected, i.e. they are there because they perceive there is some value in being a member of the CoP. They are there because they WANT to be there.
  12. 12. Knowledge from a trusted source is richer than what we can discover for ourselves Photo: by Jackie Welberg! @stephendaleMonday, 3 December 2012One  of  the  principle  advantages  of  CoPs  is  that  the  membership  is  built  on  TRUST.  There  is  no  anonymity  -­‐  you  are  who  you  say  are.  AuthenAcity  of  the  members  is  one  of  the  foundaAons  for  creaAng  a  trusted  environment,  and  a  key  differenAator  between  CoPs  and  Social  Networks.
  13. 13. But who do you trust? @stephendaleMonday, 3 December 2012You  are  far  more  likely  to  trust  members  of  your  CoP,  than  a  more  open  social  network.
  14. 14. Levels of Community Value It’s really hard to start here! Trust, Loyalty, Advocacy Sharing, Broad Participation Co-creation Purpose, Rules, Protocol EngagementMonday, 3 December 2012Establishing trust, loyalty and advocacy (the willingness to promote and evangelise what you are doing) is a goal to aspire to, and not something that comes without a lot of hard work, from the members andfacilitators of the CoP. It is the hallmark of a successful and dynamic CoP, built on sound foundations. Just like a pyramid, you build from the bottom up.
  15. 15. Community Facilitation Is Important Essential tools/apps & upgrades feature selection how to use them & improvements Platform Management social network analysis connecting people Google analytics moderation Community Metrics health checks rule enforcement polls blog posts surveys forum seeding Community Management management reports comments rewards & incentives alignment with Business Planning business priorities back-channel engagement purpose, goals new member welcome & induction identifying good/best practice campaigns Outreach networking newsletters Professional Development e-bulletins attending events participate in SIGs Content Management updating links & managing tags, categories, themes navigation taxonomy management updating FAQs deleting & archiving Slide re-worked from an original by Dion HinchliffeMonday, 3 December 2012Some  of  the  key  ac-vi-es  of  the  Facilitator:Suppor/ng  sociability,  rela/onship  and  trust  building  Seed  and  feed  discussion  topicsMaintain  and  sustain  the  communi/es  healthDirect  knowledge  nuggets  for  capture  and  reuseHelp  to  connect  community  membersProvide  basic  help  as  needed  with  the  tools  Repor/ng  CoP  ac/vity  –  metrics,  evalua/ons  Ensure  the  community  space  is  kept  "/dy"  and  navigable  Monitoring  success  criteria  and  impact
  16. 16. Community Facilitation Time Moderation 16% Content 27% 6 .3 e ek on p er w ge Growth hours avera 17% Relationships 10% Strategy 10% Events & Activities Technology 11% 6% Business Integration 3% Source:, 3 December 2012One of the most frequently asked questions from anyone new to CoPs is “how much time does it take to facilitate/moderate/manage”. This analysis, provided by Michael Norton (LGA) is based on over 7years experience of managing/facilitating CoPs for the local government sector. Note the different activities that are involved.
  17. 17. Facilitation Lean Text Source:, 3 December 2012This slide also courtesy of Michael Norton at the LGA. Perhaps in contradiction to the previous slide, but identifies that absolute minimum time requirement for community facilitation/management. This alsoassumes that the CoP is fully established (operational) and not still in it’s early development and engagements stages,
  18. 18. 3.How do you measure Value?Monday, 3 December 2012
  19. 19. Is this valuable?Monday, 3 December 2012Nutmeg. Weight for weight more valuable than gold in 17th century Europe. A spice held to have powerful medicinal properties. It rocketed in price when physiciansin Elizabethan London claimed that their nutmeg pomanders were the only certain cure for the plague.
  20. 20. Measuring ‘Value’. Total registrations 40000 Number of contributing CoP Members 35000 6000 Percentage of CoP members who are contributors 30000 25000 5000 17.00% 20000 4000 16.00% 15000 3000 15.00% 10000 2000 14.00% 5000 0 1000 13.00% 07 08 07 08 09 7 8 9 7 8 9 07 08 7 8 9 0 -0 -0 -0 l-0 l-0 l-0 -0 -0 -0 12.00% v- v- n- n- n- p- p- ar ar ar ay ay ay Ju Ju Ju No No Ja Ja Ja Se Se M M M M M M Jan- Feb- Mar- Apr- May- Jun- Jul-08 Aug- Sep- Oct- Nov- Dec- Jan- Feb- Mar- Apr- May- Jun- 11.00% 08 08 08 08 08 08 08 08 08 08 08 09 09 09 09 09 09 Jan- Feb- Mar- Apr- May- Jun- Jul- Aug- S Oct- Nov- D Jan- Feb- Mar- Apr- May- Jun- User Surveys 08 08 08 08 08 08 08 08 ep- 08 08 ec- 09 09 09 09 09 09 08 08 …but a chicken doesn’t get fatter the more you weigh it!Monday, 3 December 2012Aggregating quantitative metrics does not provide evidence of either success or failure of a CoP. For example, we need to understand:1. The original purpose and intended outcomes of the community.Some will be light on discussion and strong on shared document building and vice versa. Others will be ‘one-shot’ supporting a single challenge.2. The rhythm or cycle of the community.Not all communities will be a hive of activity, some will support its participants at a low level of interaction over a long period, others for short bursts around face-to-face-meetings or events.3. The quality of the interactions and/or the viewings it attracts.An online community may be composed of lengthy, high quality, position statements or case-studies with relatively little discussion. Others, equally valid, may be filled with chit-chat and gossip, sharing experience in a way that provides moral support for isolated individuals.Two key lessons:• Don’t rely on metrics to claim your community is successful.• Use metrics and indicators to understand your community better.So any measure of success is likely to be a mix of qualitative and quantitative data.Managers need to avoid interfering with the way that the CoPs are being run, particularly in the sense of setting targets and timescales. The more informed managers are aware that traditional command and control processes do not work for CoPs, and that instilling corporate processes on largely free-wheeling communities is likely to stifle and inhibit innovation and learning.However, there is a cost in keeping this technology and support infrastructure going, and it is reasonable to expect questions from senior managers on what the benefits are and what the ROI is. It remains something of a conundrum on how best to respond to these questions in a way that will give senior managers the confidence to maintain investment.
  21. 21. Social Network Analysis provides insight and prompts questions “I frequently or very frequently receive information from this person that helps me do my job.”Monday, 3 December 2012•Knowledge flows along existing pathways in organizations.•To understand the knowledge flow, find out what the patterns are.•Create interventions to create, reinforce, or change the patterns to improve the knowledge flow.•Identify critical resources - e.g. Paul in this diagram. What would happen to the network if Paul decided to leave?
  22. 22. The ROI Conundrum Cost of one face to face conference: • 100 people attending an event in London • Cost of rooms + lunch = £5000 For those • Average cost of travel = £30 per person that measure One face-to-face conference would cost £8000 value in £.s.d. Cost of an on-line community conference is virtually £0 If you can keep the ‘I’ small no-one will ask about the R!Monday, 3 December 2012So, if one wants to think of ‘value’ solely in terms of hard cash savings – then online conferences can save money. But it is wrong to confuse ‘costs’ with ‘value’. The real value comes from the learning andsharing opportunities provided by the on-line conference. There are also far more effective networking opportunities provided in a virtual (on-line) environment, where posted comments (in forums, blogsetc.) can reach a far wider audience.
  23. 23. The real value is in understanding your community Inactive Contibutors Power Observers contibutors Organisations will pay increasing attention to the people who make collaboration possible and profitable.Monday, 3 December 2012Understanding how your community works is the first step in developing your intervention strategies. Your contributors will always outnumber your observers (some call them ‘lurkers’).make sure you lookafter and give recognition to your contributors. They are the life-blood of the community. Ensure you are monitoring statistics for inactive users (the ones who have registered but have not engaged). Canthey be encouraged to become active members? Should their accounts be removed if they are only adding to the clutter?
  24. 24. Anecdotes should be encouraged…and published! “If you find yourself drifting “The concept of online apart from your peers and you conferences is a winner, instead have to rely on regional meetings of spending hours on a train to that take place several months sit through various Powerpoint apart, then the online community presentations, you access the can bring and keep you together conference when it’s convenient – its also great way of staying in to you.“ touch with industry changes.” User, Hart District Council  User, West Lothian Council “Many of the online groups that we set up on the site either reflected new projects or were new groups working on a new priority that wasn’t covered under the business unit or structure. So for our change groups for example, it was a place for those new projects and communities to have a home.” Innovation Unit, Kent County Council. Source:, 3 December 2012Stories and anecdotes should be published, promoted and rewarded. Narrate your works and achievements. This will demonstrate value to other members and your managers.
  25. 25. Key Points • Social is the new economy - we need to be connected and engaged to keep our knowledge relevant. • CoPs are places for both professional and personal development. • Effective community facilitation will enhance the value of the community to its members. • Not everything that can be measured counts, and not everything that counts can be measured. Focus on understanding your community.Monday, 3 December 2012
  26. 26. A final thought... “Go to the People. Live with them Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done the task is accomplished.The people will say..... ‘We have done this ourselves’” Lao Tsu, Chinese Philosopher (Contemporary of Confucius). Taken from Tao Te Ching c 500BCMonday, 3 December 2012
  27. 27. Email: Twitter: @stephendale, @collabor8now Profile: Unless otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.Monday, 3 December 2012