10 Communities Of Practice Best Practices
CoP is a framework for companies that want to invest in their knowledge capital. Read these Communities of practice best practices to help you start a CoP.
Communities of Practice should be able to provide an opportunity for your team to build their expertise and deepen their knowledge in your industry to thrive in the digital business era. Ideally, this is achieved through regular collaboration within an environment where everyone is eager to share his or her knowledge with one another.
However, in its early stage, initiating and encouraging your team to make CoPs work can be a bit challenging. This can frustrate you but using the ten best practices below can address this slump head-on.
Establish a clear plan or “structure”
This will allow everyone to have an idea of how the Communities of Practice will function and the various expectations of each member.
You can do this by creating a “charter” or a sort of rules of engagement where you identify the group’s strategy, communication techniques, and scheduling and holding meetings. However, remember, this “structure” should not alienate “informal” nature of CoPs.
CoPs foundation is deeply rooted in its “social” nature. Don’t suffocate your people with rules in CoPs.
Arrange a member’s introductory meeting
Whether the meeting is online or offline, members should be able to meet one another and start discussing their goals and objectives.
This activity will also give them the chance to gain more confidence in sharing ideas and knowledge with the other members. This will help in enhancing the effectiveness of the Communities of Practice in the long run. It’s a social learning community.
Make sure to hold meetings on a regular basis
Holding meetings on a regular basis is undoubtedly another key for Communities of Practice to achieve success. These meetings are perfect opportunities for members’ collaboration and sharing.
Members can also enjoy the following: opportunity to share knowledge, ability to strengthen communication, a more effective way to interact, the chance to speak directly with other practitioners, and the ability to receive immediate input and feedback.
What you can do from the management side is to make it sure that you give your team the time for these regular meeting. Also, make it sure that there would be as less friction and stress in providing this schedule to protect the momentum of your CoPs.
Software tools used in project management can become the community’s virtual headquarters
By using these platforms, members can share documents, delegate tasks, keep track of the projects’ deadline, keep themselves updated with a community calendar, and most importantly extend the conversation.
As a result, the community is well organised and can stay on-task which remains true even when some members are participating remotely.
Survey your employees to define actual problems
This company-wide survey of employees allows the organisation to learn about the issues or weaknesses which should be focused on by the Communities of Practice.
Members can focus on the organisation’s most pressing issues and allocate time and resources to tackle these concerns during their regular meetings. The survey spells out the problem for the CoPs.
It is an indirect way to spark a conversation around it without pushing the interest of your company blatantly. Again, we don’t want to alienate the social learning nature of CoPs.
Identify a clear objective or purpose
Get a clear idea on the following: the purpose of creating the community; how to fine tune the community’s training strategy; and ways to improve the CoPs.
As a result, members will have a good understanding of how to do their part to reach the desired results in relation to the established objective and purpose of their CoPs.
Stay conscious of the knowledge and experience that each member offers in the community
Be able to determine what each member of the community brings to the table and what core experience or knowledge they can share with the others.
Ideally, the community must be made up of a diverse group of members wherein each one offers something invaluable and unique to the group. You would want to have a group that represents a wide range of employees, expertise, and interest.
This can be particularly useful if you’re building a company-wide learning community. You can identify at least one member to represent a specific department. You can also find those who excel in certain areas or skill sets.
There should be an appointed moderator
Having a moderator is vital to the success of the community. Find and appoint someone who is not only knowledgeable on various topics but is also widely appreciated.
Some of the tasks of a moderator include: keeping the group on-task; providing guidance during meetings; and being a liaison between the community and the organisation.
The appointment can either be made directly or by conducting a group vote wherein each member would vote for the person who they believe is the community’s best representative.
Communities meet both in-person and online. It is essential that members have various means to share ideas and work together. Using these online platforms can be a convenient and fast way for members to arrive at new and innovative solutions.
These include social media sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Through these platforms, members can easily share files, videos, and images.
The thing is, they should opt for this medium of communication and should not see it as an invasion of their social media use.
Offer resources and support to other communities
Communities thrive on the support and resources that are offered by their leaders (You). These can include the tools, apps and sometimes monetary funds.
This kind of support is particularly useful in the beginning stages of the group. CoPs need to develop training, strategies, and development solutions which can benefit your company as a whole.
To achieve these best practices, it requires bringing together these four main components: the people, the technology, the structure or process, and your mindset.
CoPs core goal is for its member to develop their knowledge through social learning – benefiting your company in terms of innovation, teamwork, and other by-products of CoPs are something that you can indirectly steer using different approaches.
The key to reaping all the rewards of CoPs is to be strategic about interacting with it, have a long-term mindset, and support it so providing valuable to improve your company will become almost second nature to CoPs.
Get started by taking our Organisational Mastery Scorecard and find out how you will integrate CoPs in the big picture.