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RE: [cp] Educator CoP

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  • Bruce Jones
    WMJ: Thank you for your response. I would like to follow-up on a couple of your items if you don t mind. You stated: (1) A CoP (cluster of processes/practices
    Message 1 of 20 , Dec 31, 2003
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      WMJ:

      Thank you for your response.

      I would like to follow-up on a couple of your items if you don't mind.

      You stated: "(1) A CoP (cluster of processes/practices with dynamic
      knowledge repository) is a kind of knowledge asset. Meta-model of
      planned CoP could eliminate a lot of frustrations, false starts etc."

      I agree with the first half of this statement. A functional Community
      of Practice/Participation (CoP) IS a valuable knowledge asset. I am not
      real sure of your use of the word processes though and I can envision
      the word cluster as a community. Your second half, however ... why
      would you want to eliminate the natural growth process of a community?
      Is this going to be an exclusive and closed group?

      Yes there are a lot of frustrations and "false starts" associated with
      the formation or development of a CoP or any organized endeavor ... How
      else do you learn?

      You stated: "(2) It is not "learning situation or a knowledge
      bank/warehouse". It is 'learning situation' == learning environment.
      Knowledge repository is part and parcel of learning environment."

      Yes it is and I agree wholeheartedly. I am imagining though that you
      were (in your original post) saying there should be a series of various
      levels of knowledge from novice to master and that these assets should
      be chosen in the right proportion and at the correct levels. Membership
      would then be based on the ratio of each of these levels?

      You stated: "(3) Meta-models (schemata) might help to avoid a "CoP" to
      "grow naturally" into a debating society."

      Is this not what the knowledge exchange/learning process is about ...
      Discussing and learning from the exchange of ideas and knowledge? The
      electronic environment (and I am assuming we are discussing the
      electronic environment instead of a 'gentlemen's club') ... INMHO ...
      has a tremendous potential for the dissemination of knowledge and
      learning across a wide series of knowledge environs and levels but NOT
      as a delivered lecture. This media is well suited and situated to a
      Socratic and collaborative format of learning and knowledge exchange.

      BJ

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    • John D. Smith
      On Wednesday, December 31, 2003 7:32 AM, Bruce Jones [mailto:brucewj@amaonline.com] writes: Yes there are a lot of frustrations and false starts
      Message 2 of 20 , Jan 3, 2004
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        On Wednesday, December 31, 2003 7:32 AM, Bruce Jones
        [mailto:brucewj@...]
        writes:

        <snip>

        Yes there are a lot of frustrations and "false starts" associated with
        the formation or development of a CoP or any organized endeavor ... How
        else do you learn?

        <snip>

        It makes me wonder about "true starts"... From whose point of view would a
        start be true or false? And in what contexts would avoidance of "false
        starts" be most important? When I see educators being over-optimistic about
        avoiding "false starts" it make me want to run in the other direction. I
        have a similar reaction to over-confidence among geeks and technology
        enthusiasts.

        I like Etienne Wenger's story about how the term "community of practice" was
        coined in the context of heated debates between an artificial intelligence
        camp at the Institute for Research on Learning and an educational theorist
        camp. One camp's "false start" was another's holy grail, eh?

        Or does "CoP" stand for Community of Practice? Earlier posts in this thread
        made me wonder.

        John
        *
        * John D. Smith - John.Smith@... V: 503.963.8229
        * "To build an apple pie from scratch you must first create the Universe." -
        Carl Sagan
      • John D. Smith
        Wojciech Jaworski [mailto:gsinc@gen-strategies.com] wrote on Wednesday, December 31, 2003 1:04 AM Here is are some answers to your questions: (1) A
        Message 3 of 20 , Jan 3, 2004
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          Wojciech Jaworski [mailto:gsinc@...] wrote on Wednesday,
          December 31, 2003 1:04 AM
          <snip>

          Here is are some "answers" to your questions:

          (1) A CoP (cluster of processes/practices with dynamic knowledge
          repository) is a kind of knowledge asset. Meta-model of planned CoP
          could eliminate a lot of frustrations, false starts etc.

          <snip>

          I wonder whether a "cluster of processes" (a new kind of CoP?) suffers any
          more distortion when we reduce it to an abstraction in a computer than does
          a community? Although "community" gets the warm fuzzies going, aren't
          organizational (or social?)processes are just as full of variance and
          messiness and emergence?

          John
          *
          * John D. Smith - John.Smith@... V: 503.963.8229
          * "To build an apple pie from scratch you must first create the Universe." -
          Carl Sagan
        • Bruce Jones
          ......... Although community gets the warm fuzzies going, aren t organizational (or social?)processes are just as full of variance and messiness and
          Message 4 of 20 , Jan 3, 2004
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            <snip> .........
            Although "community" gets the warm fuzzies going, aren't organizational
            (or social?)processes are just as full of variance and messiness and
            emergence? ........ <snip>

            Not sure about the warm fuzziest part but there are several "C" words
            that could be used here.
            1) Cluster ... A number of things together
            2) Co-Op (Cooperative) ... A group or society owned and managed by the
            members
            3) Collection ... An assemblage of parts
            4) Community ... A unified body of common interests

            The definition I have always used for CoP is:

            A coming together of participants, with a specific interest, to share
            and create common knowledge.

            There are ... IMHO ... Four foundation stones to a successful community.
            1) Interest ... All the participants have a common interest.
            2) Participation ... Every one must participate in both the exchange of
            information and the construction of knowledge.
            3) Sharing ... Sharing of professional and personal identities as well
            as knowledge.
            4) Caring ... Becoming involved in the shared responsibility of all the
            members, personal and professional.

            It is my opinion that if there is only #'s 1 & 2 above utilized and
            fostered you will have a failure within the 'Community' and it will not
            succeed. Number's 3 & 4 imply and require vulnerability and commitment.
            If you have only 1 & 2 you might have a cluster or a co-op or even a
            collection but only by adding the other two will you have a Community.

            So, yes, the "Warm Fuzzies" are a requirement for a successful CoP.

            BJ



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          • Wojciech Jaworski
            Dear BJ, I like content and form of your message. In the NL exchanges there are useful and harmful ambiguities ( warm fuzzies ). It is productive - for
            Message 5 of 20 , Jan 3, 2004
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              Dear BJ,

              I like content and form of your message.

              In the NL exchanges there are useful and harmful ambiguities ("warm
              fuzzies"). It is productive - for specific CoPs == clusters of
              practices/processes - to define tangible goals, communication methods
              AND Community of Common Interests (CoCI).

              So far, in this list, CoCI is identified by Tread Name (aka Subject)?

              OBTW cluster[n]:= array, assemblage, band, batch, bevy, blob, body,
              bunch, bundle, chunk, clump, clutch, collection, covey, crew, gathering,
              hunk, knot, lot, pack, part, set {ROGET's Thesaurus].

              Practice [n] and process [n] are NOT simple concepts.

              OBTW What are "tangible goals" of this list?

              Best
              WMJ

              -----Original Message-----
              From: Bruce Jones [mailto:brucewj@...]
              Sent: Saturday, January 03, 2004 5:58 PM
              To: com-prac@yahoogroups.com; 'John D. Smith'
              Subject: RE: [cp] cluster of processes

              <snip> .........
              Although "community" gets the warm fuzzies going, aren't organizational
              (or social?)processes are just as full of variance and messiness and
              emergence? ........ <snip>

              Not sure about the warm fuzziest part but there are several "C" words
              that could be used here.
              1) Cluster ... A number of things together
              2) Co-Op (Cooperative) ... A group or society owned and managed by the
              members
              3) Collection ... An assemblage of parts
              4) Community ... A unified body of common interests

              The definition I have always used for CoP is:

              A coming together of participants, with a specific interest, to share
              and create common knowledge.

              There are ... IMHO ... Four foundation stones to a successful community.
              1) Interest ... All the participants have a common interest.
              2) Participation ... Every one must participate in both the exchange of
              information and the construction of knowledge.
              3) Sharing ... Sharing of professional and personal identities as well
              as knowledge.
              4) Caring ... Becoming involved in the shared responsibility of all the
              members, personal and professional.

              It is my opinion that if there is only #'s 1 & 2 above utilized and
              fostered you will have a failure within the 'Community' and it will not
              succeed. Number's 3 & 4 imply and require vulnerability and commitment.
              If you have only 1 & 2 you might have a cluster or a co-op or even a
              collection but only by adding the other two will you have a Community.

              So, yes, the "Warm Fuzzies" are a requirement for a successful CoP.

              BJ



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            • Bruce Jones
              WMJ: I like content and form of your message. Thank you! So far, in this list, CoCI is identified by Tread Name (aka Subject)? I agree that the use of a
              Message 6 of 20 , Jan 4, 2004
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                WMJ:

                "I like content and form of your message."

                Thank you!

                "So far, in this list, CoCI is identified by Tread Name (aka Subject)?"

                I agree that the use of a subject title has the effect of defining the
                'CoCI' as you have stated. However, this does not define the community.
                CoPs should ... IMO ... Mimic general discussions. In a group round
                table where a specific goal has been established the conversation will
                drift very little from the original subject matter and thus the use of
                'threads' as topics is limited. In a conversation of general interest
                the drift should be radical with many different subjects giving rise to
                specific CoCI. In this I feel there are two unique lines of thought
                that can be considered CoPs.

                "OBTW cluster[n]:= array, assemblage, band, batch, bevy, blob, body,
                bunch, bundle, chunk, clump, clutch, collection, covey, crew, gathering,
                hunk, knot, lot, pack, part, set {ROGET's Thesaurus]."

                Agree and thank you. I will admit to a slight clarification of meaning
                to match my definition. I would still not use many of these words in a
                descriptive paragraph about CoPs.

                "Practice [n] and process [n] are NOT simple concepts."

                Agree!

                "OBTW What are "tangible goals" of this list?"

                Whatever the members want to make it. If the members want to make the
                conversations shallow and meaningless... Then that is what the goal
                state will be.

                BJ

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              • plbond
                Kevin and others http://www.Know-2.org is a website of a European funded initiative to establish CoP based on those with interest in on-line (e.learning).
                Message 7 of 20 , Jan 5, 2004
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                  Kevin and others

                  http://www.Know-2.org is a website of a European funded initiative to
                  establish CoP based on those with interest in 'on-line' (e.learning). Visit
                  the site to get a feel for what you might establish to get facilitate the
                  educator cop. You can gain access at different levels and take part in
                  discussions or hot topics.

                  This initiative is also linked to a CoP development facilitation method
                  referred to as KALiF (TM). It was first developed by associates of mine
                  called Learning Futures Ltd. The method has been enhanced somewhat since
                  its first application and a 'front end' diagnostic activity is being
                  validated. This is aimed at getting some idea of network coherence. It can
                  be compared to a social network type of analysis. The model from which the
                  diagnostic has been derived is itself based on the idea that communities
                  precipitate around shared problems (so they are motivated by the need to
                  solve) and as they become more coherent members would begin to share the
                  value of joint solution making, methods and techniques for problem
                  diagnosis, solution evaluation, strategy making/organisation design, and
                  project implementation.

                  Currently KALiF is being developed for application in industrial cluster
                  development, a situation in which autonomous business managers come together
                  to build and share in a sector specific knowledge and learning (management)
                  infrastructure . Within the wider network of businesses and support
                  agencies, the initial diagnostic has allowed us to identify emergent CoPs
                  (distinguished by greater degrees of structure maintained by closer personal
                  relationships) to which higher levels of investment in resources for
                  facilitation can be directed.

                  --
                  peter bond
                • plbond
                  Any ideas? In my approach to CoP development I have adhered to the notion that relationships are the (new) bottom line. (Got this from Lewin and Regine s book
                  Message 8 of 20 , Jan 5, 2004
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                    Any ideas?

                    In my approach to CoP development I have adhered to the notion that
                    relationships are the (new) bottom line. (Got this from Lewin and Regine's
                    book Soul in the Machine -application of complexity science to business
                    development). Thus, a CoP is distinguished by a certain number and a certain
                    quality of relationships that have spontaneously formed. I would be
                    interested to know whether anyone has carried out research, or knows of any,
                    related to calculating/assessing the critical mass (number) of relationships
                    of a certain quality necessary to precipitate a CoP. I suppose an analogous
                    question might be: 'How much snow, and what quality of snow (influenced by
                    environmental conditions), is needed before an avalanche occurs?'

                    Thanks in anticipation.
                    --
                    peter bond
                  • chris macrae
                    Yes I thought Lewin and Regine s book was a breakthrough. I m co-authoring a book with a journalist (Alan Mitchell) on relationships as the new bottom line -
                    Message 9 of 20 , Jan 5, 2004
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                      Yes I thought Lewin and Regine's book was a breakthrough. I'm
                      co-authoring a book with a journalist (Alan Mitchell) on relationships
                      as the new bottom line - incidentally that's the name of his previous
                      book but that was only on customers whereas we seek next to map all
                      stakeholders and all organisational subsystems of which hierarchy was
                      the first CoP or other co-organising methods are a second; networking
                      across organisations' global market is a third

                      Its interesting to ask what are the critical masses needed both to get
                      started and to sustain; and I don't think there is an answer without a
                      lot more context. For example in some organisations a practice may only
                      be important whole one CEO thinks it is whereas in other organisational
                      systems the practice's importance has an independent purpose to exist.

                      I think there are other parameters apart from mass. For example
                      transparency of how many budding initiatives ever get followed through
                      in this organisation's system. If history shows that most get followed
                      through you need less mass than if history shows that many early
                      initiators of knowledge sharing in the past were left beached later on.

                      Chris Macrae, wcbn007@..., London & DC
                      KM & Emotional Intelligence co-editor for EU sig at
                      http://www.knowledgeboard.com/community/zones/sig/kmei.html
                      Network of Excellence co-editor at
                      http://www.knowledgeboard.com/community/zones/sig/angels.html
                      -----Original Message-----
                      From: plbond [mailto:plbond@...]
                      Sent: 05 January 2004 12:14
                      To: com-prac@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: [cp] Re: critical mass and CoP precipitation

                      Any ideas?

                      In my approach to CoP development I have adhered to the notion that
                      relationships are the (new) bottom line. (Got this from Lewin and
                      Regine's
                      book Soul in the Machine -application of complexity science to business
                      development). Thus, a CoP is distinguished by a certain number and a
                      certain
                      quality of relationships that have spontaneously formed. I would be
                      interested to know whether anyone has carried out research, or knows of
                      any,
                      related to calculating/assessing the critical mass (number) of
                      relationships
                      of a certain quality necessary to precipitate a CoP. I suppose an
                      analogous
                      question might be: 'How much snow, and what quality of snow (influenced
                      by
                      environmental conditions), is needed before an avalanche occurs?'

                      Thanks in anticipation.
                      --
                      peter bond



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                    • plbond
                      Thanks to all who have responded to my enquiry on critical mass. I thought I would add a bit more by responding to some of the comments. Ross Wirth said......
                      Message 10 of 20 , Jan 6, 2004
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                        Thanks to all who have responded to my enquiry on critical mass. I thought I
                        would add a bit more by responding to some of the comments.

                        Ross Wirth said......

                        I don't think there is a simple answer here because the critical mass for
                        active participation is dependent on a number of factors: degree of
                        involvement, scale of the community & the levels at which conversations
                        occur, and questions regarding the application of the power law to this
                        situation.

                        > Chris Macrae said....

                        It's interesting to ask what are the critical masses needed both to get
                        > started and to sustain [a community].


                        As Ross suggests, I don't think there's a simple answer and I'm about to
                        complicate it even more. When I say I am interested in relationships it is
                        not simply between people but also between people and artefacts, especially
                        tools , but also with descriptions of strategy, of policy, of methods
                        (techniques) and recognised practice. We could say that many of these
                        artefacts give rise to relationships. (We are now well aware of the role of
                        the vending machine in facilitating conversational practices.) These
                        relationships all contribute to the coherence and hence structure of the
                        group-community-network. Of the practices, conversation is going to be the
                        most important in both creating and sustaining structures that enable
                        current and future practices. Relations (structure) also precipitates
                        around certain people and in certain cases will distort, and undermine, an
                        otherwise effective structure. That is, a structure that enables effective
                        action. Its the shifting patterns of networks of conversation that seem to
                        me to be the most important to identify and to assess with regard to whether
                        they perform, strengthen, or weaken effective structures. Many of these
                        conversations will be about winning resources, allocating resources, and
                        coordinating actions required by strategy documents and by others wo have
                        read such documents. Such actions will almost certainly involve both
                        physical and conceptual tools (like the idea of CoP itself).

                        The dynamics of 'getting started' is another area ripe for more research.
                        How effective can a 'business plan' be in preciptating a structure that
                        enables it to be effectively and efficiently transformed into effective
                        organisation? What personality traits between seller and buyer need to be in
                        place before a relationship forms? One could go on in this vein naming as
                        many variables as might constitute a 'start-up' algorithm.

                        Calculating critical mass is a tough challenge and social network theory,
                        whilst going in the right direction has, as far as I'm aware, not begun to
                        tackle this particular problem. That said, I have just been introduced to
                        the work of Karen Stephenson on modelling social networks. This is going to
                        be very useful to the CoP community (put in a google search).

                        Thanks again foor all the responses.

                        peter bond
                      • Andy
                        Hi Peter, I read with interest the conversation about critical mass in CoP. As an unshamed social network analyst (now looking for home to call my own having
                        Message 11 of 20 , Jan 6, 2004
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                          Hi Peter,

                          I read with interest the conversation about critical mass in CoP.
                          As an unshamed social network analyst (now looking for home to call my own
                          having left my researcher position:-))
                          I agree with you when you said .
                          >Calculating critical mass is a tough challenge and social network theory,
                          >whilst going in the right direction has, as far as I'm aware, not begun to
                          >tackle this particular problem. That said, I have just been introduced to
                          >the work of Karen Stephenson on modelling social networks. This is going to
                          >be very useful to the CoP community (put in a google search).

                          Critical mass for initiation and sustainability is something which I have
                          measured and modelling using network based modelling, (while not fun for
                          everyone out there it is where I get my kicks). Modelling such phenonmena
                          requires condiseration of all of the issues raised in this debate about
                          multiple factors effecting the continuance of membership of a CoP through
                          maintain links to its members.
                          CoP are hugegly complicated things to model for the simple reason that no
                          one knows what they really are or what they look like.
                          A highly connected cluster of people operating in the same general area of
                          practice is a good one. Well they also have to have some shared body of
                          knowledge, norms and practices which they are involved in building and
                          maintaining. Thats where things start to become really soft.

                          Anyway, how we model them in the social network field is usually (i say
                          usually, but it is a very new area of social network research) is by using
                          multi agent social network models. That is computational models where we can
                          embedd rules of interaction into individual agents. These agents can be
                          people, databases, knowledge or anything else that is interacted with in
                          some form.

                          In practical use we use conventional SNA techniques to map and measure
                          existing networks and contextual enquiry to get an idea of processes
                          involved in the agents behaviour, we then use this to create a
                          model/simulation of the social system over time. We run this simulation
                          multiple sometimes hundreds of times to get an idea of the most likely
                          outcome as it stocashtic rather than determinstic model of group evolution.
                          This model can then be tested and tuned against the actual behavior of the
                          network so that a model of behavior can be created that allows for modelling
                          the impact of scenarios such as personnel loss or change in work processes.

                          For research and theory building, such as what causes critical mass we model
                          a whole range of different behaviors within given sceanrios to indicate if
                          the network will sustain itself.Not to say that all ties will stay the same.
                          If the network does not change over time and linkages remain the same the
                          network is likely to become inert.

                          The problem of modelling social systems is of scalability if we are only 6
                          degrees from everyone on the plannet how can we possibley be able to model
                          the evolution of social-technical systems over a long period.

                          In the short term modelling small to medium sized groups such a teams and
                          workgroups is possible in most organisations, providing there is support for
                          such activities. As organisations become more familar with social network
                          researcher techniques this modelling activity will become the next step in
                          performance modelling for organisations (well I hope so, anyway)

                          Kind Regards and a very happy new year

                          Andy

                          me@...

                          Knowledge Network Consulting




                          -----Original Message-----
                          From: plbond [mailto:plbond@...]
                          Sent: 06 January 2004 11:44
                          To: com-prac@yahoogroups.com
                          Subject: Re: [cp] Re: critical mass and CoP precipitation


                          Thanks to all who have responded to my enquiry on critical mass. I thought I
                          would add a bit more by responding to some of the comments.

                          Ross Wirth said......

                          I don't think there is a simple answer here because the critical mass for
                          active participation is dependent on a number of factors: degree of
                          involvement, scale of the community & the levels at which conversations
                          occur, and questions regarding the application of the power law to this
                          situation.

                          > Chris Macrae said....

                          It's interesting to ask what are the critical masses needed both to get
                          > started and to sustain [a community].


                          As Ross suggests, I don't think there's a simple answer and I'm about to
                          complicate it even more. When I say I am interested in relationships it is
                          not simply between people but also between people and artefacts, especially
                          tools , but also with descriptions of strategy, of policy, of methods
                          (techniques) and recognised practice. We could say that many of these
                          artefacts give rise to relationships. (We are now well aware of the role of
                          the vending machine in facilitating conversational practices.) These
                          relationships all contribute to the coherence and hence structure of the
                          group-community-network. Of the practices, conversation is going to be the
                          most important in both creating and sustaining structures that enable
                          current and future practices. Relations (structure) also precipitates
                          around certain people and in certain cases will distort, and undermine, an
                          otherwise effective structure. That is, a structure that enables effective
                          action. Its the shifting patterns of networks of conversation that seem to
                          me to be the most important to identify and to assess with regard to whether
                          they perform, strengthen, or weaken effective structures. Many of these
                          conversations will be about winning resources, allocating resources, and
                          coordinating actions required by strategy documents and by others wo have
                          read such documents. Such actions will almost certainly involve both
                          physical and conceptual tools (like the idea of CoP itself).

                          The dynamics of 'getting started' is another area ripe for more research.
                          How effective can a 'business plan' be in preciptating a structure that
                          enables it to be effectively and efficiently transformed into effective
                          organisation? What personality traits between seller and buyer need to be in
                          place before a relationship forms? One could go on in this vein naming as
                          many variables as might constitute a 'start-up' algorithm.

                          Calculating critical mass is a tough challenge and social network theory,
                          whilst going in the right direction has, as far as I'm aware, not begun to
                          tackle this particular problem. That said, I have just been introduced to
                          the work of Karen Stephenson on modelling social networks. This is going to
                          be very useful to the CoP community (put in a google search).

                          Thanks again foor all the responses.

                          peter bond





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                        • Walker Geoff
                          ... From my reading of and listening to Etienne Wenger I have derived five critical success factors for a CoP:- 1. Sharing knowledge 2. Learning together 3.
                          Message 12 of 20 , Jan 6, 2004
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                            Andy (06/01/2004 13:25):
                            >A highly connected cluster of people operating in the same general area of
                            >practice is a good one. Well they also have to have some shared body of
                            >knowledge, norms and practices which they are involved in building and
                            >maintaining. Thats where things start to become really soft.
                            From my reading of and listening to Etienne Wenger I have derived five critical success factors for a CoP:-
                            1. Sharing knowledge
                            2. Learning together
                            3. Creating common practices
                            4. Sharing mental models
                            5. Having a common culture of information sharing
                            All these crtieria are testable by in-depth interviews and focus groups.
                            What I find interesting about you points on SNA is that I am now taking some of the above test data, placing it in a matrix and producing SNA maps from it.
                            At this stage, I am still unsure as to the value of this process BUT it sure is fun!!!



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                          • Andy
                            Hi Geoff, I guess by soft what I was meaning are much harder to measure, indepth interviews take an awful long time and in generalisling to multiple networks
                            Message 13 of 20 , Jan 6, 2004
                            • 0 Attachment
                              Hi Geoff,

                              I guess by soft what I was meaning are much harder to measure, indepth
                              interviews take an awful long time and in generalisling to multiple networks
                              concepts of common culture of information sharing is quite difficult. Also I
                              think the five items you list are also critical sucess factors for any
                              workgroup, team or other social system.

                              In using a knowledge network mapping you would have to try and get each item
                              down to what communication behavior would resulf from or is indicticated by
                              such a phenomena.

                              1. Sharing knowledge :- People go to each other to solve problems, problem
                              solving link
                              2. Learning together:- Difficult one other than asking outright
                              3. Creating common practices:- This requires a great deal of observation on
                              the part of the research or reflexive thought on the persons being surveyed.
                              Is it the act of creating common practices or the ability to.
                              4.Sharing mental models:- have to capture and encode metal models
                              5. Having a common culture of sharing:- This is an individual behavioral
                              trait that they show a propensity to share. This could be modelled as
                              attribute of the individuals and how it is learned by new commers to a
                              group.

                              Would love to see the SNA maps, and look over what you are doing with this.
                              I did a similar kind of exercise with this yahoo group a few years back that
                              was much fun. Thinking of rehashing that as there seems to be fresh interest
                              in SNA at the moment.

                              best

                              Andy

                              -----Original Message-----
                              From: Walker Geoff [mailto:geoff.walker@...]
                              Sent: 06 January 2004 13:35
                              To: com-prac@yahoogroups.com
                              Subject: Re(2): [cp] Re: critical mass and CoP precipitat ion


                              Andy (06/01/2004 13:25):
                              >A highly connected cluster of people operating in the same general area of
                              >practice is a good one. Well they also have to have some shared body of
                              >knowledge, norms and practices which they are involved in building and
                              >maintaining. Thats where things start to become really soft.
                              >From my reading of and listening to Etienne Wenger I have derived five
                              critical success factors for a CoP:-
                              1. Sharing knowledge
                              2. Learning together
                              3. Creating common practices
                              4. Sharing mental models
                              5. Having a common culture of information sharing
                              All these crtieria are testable by in-depth interviews and focus groups.
                              What I find interesting about you points on SNA is that I am now taking some
                              of the above test data, placing it in a matrix and producing SNA maps from
                              it.
                              At this stage, I am still unsure as to the value of this process BUT it sure
                              is fun!!!



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                              MIMEsweeper for the presence of computer viruses.
                              www.mimesweeper.com
                              City of Newcastle website:- http://www.newcastle.gov.uk
                              Tyne Offshore Suppliers:- http://www.offshore-suppliers.com
                              Newcastle Schools website:- http://www.newcastle-schools.org.uk
                              Competitive City:- http://www.newcastle.gov.uk/compcity
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                            • Ben Daniel
                              In fact, modelling CoP is a big challenge but it is not impossible or a hopeless effort. Depending on what purpose the computational model actually serves, it
                              Message 14 of 20 , Jan 6, 2004
                              • 0 Attachment
                                In fact, modelling CoP is a big challenge but it is
                                not impossible or a hopeless effort. Depending on what
                                purpose the computational model actually serves, it
                                might be possible to model parts or the whole to
                                infer some overall behaviour. Partial models might be
                                used as input for decision making or for building more
                                sophisticated models.
                                One big challenge we have with most social constructs
                                is that they tend to be imprecise, incomplete and
                                sometimes even vague. Take forinstance the notion of
                                social capital. This is a multivariate construct. It
                                can be means or an end or even both. Now how do you
                                develop an accurate model of something like that?
                                Well, I am doing somework on social capital in virtual
                                learning communities and distributed communities of
                                practice. My models use Bayesian belief networks. And
                                I think one big utility that can derived from my
                                models would be the ability to understand changes in
                                social capital and how decision-makers, policy
                                analyst, and others can nurture or destroy social
                                capital (especially those communities that breed
                                hatred against other communities that are different
                                from them).
                                Well, in nutshell, precise, complete and accurate
                                models for representing social issues requires
                                sophisticated knowledge engineering techniques. But we
                                can always do something with anything little.
                                Ben

                                In a general any social phenomenon--- Andy
                                <andy@...> wrote: >
                                > Hi Peter,
                                >
                                > I read with interest the conversation about critical
                                > mass in CoP.
                                > As an unshamed social network analyst (now looking
                                > for home to call my own
                                > having left my researcher position:-))
                                > I agree with you when you said .
                                > >Calculating critical mass is a tough challenge and
                                > social network theory,
                                > >whilst going in the right direction has, as far as
                                > I'm aware, not begun to
                                > >tackle this particular problem. That said, I have
                                > just been introduced to
                                > >the work of Karen Stephenson on modelling social
                                > networks. This is going to
                                > >be very useful to the CoP community (put in a
                                > google search).
                                >
                                > Critical mass for initiation and sustainability is
                                > something which I have
                                > measured and modelling using network based
                                > modelling, (while not fun for
                                > everyone out there it is where I get my kicks).
                                > Modelling such phenonmena
                                > requires condiseration of all of the issues raised
                                > in this debate about
                                > multiple factors effecting the continuance of
                                > membership of a CoP through
                                > maintain links to its members.
                                > CoP are hugegly complicated things to model for the
                                > simple reason that no
                                > one knows what they really are or what they look
                                > like.
                                > A highly connected cluster of people operating in
                                > the same general area of
                                > practice is a good one. Well they also have to have
                                > some shared body of
                                > knowledge, norms and practices which they are
                                > involved in building and
                                > maintaining. Thats where things start to become
                                > really soft.
                                >
                                > Anyway, how we model them in the social network
                                > field is usually (i say
                                > usually, but it is a very new area of social network
                                > research) is by using
                                > multi agent social network models. That is
                                > computational models where we can
                                > embedd rules of interaction into individual agents.
                                > These agents can be
                                > people, databases, knowledge or anything else that
                                > is interacted with in
                                > some form.
                                >
                                > In practical use we use conventional SNA techniques
                                > to map and measure
                                > existing networks and contextual enquiry to get an
                                > idea of processes
                                > involved in the agents behaviour, we then use this
                                > to create a
                                > model/simulation of the social system over time. We
                                > run this simulation
                                > multiple sometimes hundreds of times to get an idea
                                > of the most likely
                                > outcome as it stocashtic rather than determinstic
                                > model of group evolution.
                                > This model can then be tested and tuned against the
                                > actual behavior of the
                                > network so that a model of behavior can be created
                                > that allows for modelling
                                > the impact of scenarios such as personnel loss or
                                > change in work processes.
                                >
                                > For research and theory building, such as what
                                > causes critical mass we model
                                > a whole range of different behaviors within given
                                > sceanrios to indicate if
                                > the network will sustain itself.Not to say that all
                                > ties will stay the same.
                                > If the network does not change over time and
                                > linkages remain the same the
                                > network is likely to become inert.
                                >
                                > The problem of modelling social systems is of
                                > scalability if we are only 6
                                > degrees from everyone on the plannet how can we
                                > possibley be able to model
                                > the evolution of social-technical systems over a
                                > long period.
                                >
                                > In the short term modelling small to medium sized
                                > groups such a teams and
                                > workgroups is possible in most organisations,
                                > providing there is support for
                                > such activities. As organisations become more
                                > familar with social network
                                > researcher techniques this modelling activity will
                                > become the next step in
                                > performance modelling for organisations (well I hope
                                > so, anyway)
                                >
                                > Kind Regards and a very happy new year
                                >
                                > Andy
                                >
                                > me@...
                                >
                                > Knowledge Network Consulting
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                > -----Original Message-----
                                > From: plbond
                                > [mailto:plbond@...]
                                > Sent: 06 January 2004 11:44
                                > To: com-prac@yahoogroups.com
                                > Subject: Re: [cp] Re: critical mass and CoP
                                > precipitation
                                >
                                >
                                > Thanks to all who have responded to my enquiry on
                                > critical mass. I thought I
                                > would add a bit more by responding to some of the
                                > comments.
                                >
                                > Ross Wirth said......
                                >
                                > I don't think there is a simple answer here because
                                > the critical mass for
                                > active participation is dependent on a number of
                                > factors: degree of
                                > involvement, scale of the community & the levels at
                                > which conversations
                                > occur, and questions regarding the application of
                                > the power law to this
                                > situation.
                                >
                                > > Chris Macrae said....
                                >
                                > It's interesting to ask what are the critical masses
                                > needed both to get
                                > > started and to sustain [a community].
                                >
                                >
                                > As Ross suggests, I don't think there's a simple
                                > answer and I'm about to
                                > complicate it even more. When I say I am interested
                                > in relationships it is
                                > not simply between people but also between people
                                > and artefacts, especially
                                > tools , but also with descriptions of strategy, of
                                > policy, of methods
                                > (techniques) and recognised practice. We could say
                                > that many of these
                                > artefacts give rise to relationships. (We are now
                                > well aware of the role of
                                > the vending machine in facilitating conversational
                                > practices.) These
                                > relationships all contribute to the coherence and
                                > hence structure of the
                                > group-community-network. Of the practices,
                                > conversation is going to be the
                                > most important in both creating and sustaining
                                > structures that enable
                                > current and future practices. Relations (structure)
                                > also precipitates
                                > around certain people and in certain cases will
                                > distort, and undermine, an
                                > otherwise effective structure. That is, a structure
                                > that enables effective
                                > action. Its the shifting patterns of networks of
                                > conversation that seem to
                                > me to be the most important to identify and to
                                > assess with regard to whether
                                > they perform, strengthen, or weaken effective
                                > structures. Many of these
                                > conversations will be about winning resources,
                                > allocating resources, and
                                > coordinating actions required by strategy documents
                                > and by others wo have
                                > read such documents. Such actions will almost
                                > certainly involve both
                                > physical and conceptual tools (like the idea of CoP
                                > itself).
                                >
                                > The dynamics of 'getting started' is another area
                                > ripe for more research.
                                > How effective can a 'business plan' be in
                                > preciptating a structure that
                                > enables it to be effectively and efficiently
                                > transformed into effective
                                > organisation? What personality traits between seller
                                > and buyer need to be in
                                > place before a relationship forms? One could go on
                                > in this vein naming as
                                > many variables as might constitute a 'start-up'
                                > algorithm.
                                >
                                >
                                === message truncated ===

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                              • Andy
                                Hi Ben, You might really like some of the work done on multi theory multi level (MTML) approaches to communication research. Social capital is a multivariate
                                Message 15 of 20 , Jan 7, 2004
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  Hi Ben,

                                  You might really like some of the work done on multi theory multi level
                                  (MTML) approaches to communication research.

                                  Social capital is a multivariate and multi-level concept, social capital can
                                  be regarded as both and indivdiual and group phenonmena. Using MTML
                                  approaches the indivdiual mechanisms of the theory have to be
                                  operationalised in such a way that describes the way actors in your system
                                  will behave. However, you can include as many different theories as you want
                                  in your model that will predict how it will behave.

                                  If you are interested in this I would recommend having look at Theories of
                                  Communication Networks by Peter Monge and Noshir Contractor. The first
                                  Chapter of the book a whopping 49 pages is at the following URL
                                  http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/cbg/dgworkshop/contractor_chapter1.pdf

                                  The book itself is on amazon, but I'm not pushing it anymore than that.

                                  It is not light bed time reading, but it highlights most of the main social
                                  theories and how to operationalise them. It also has quite a good
                                  introduction to Computational Organisational Theory which you might be
                                  interested in. Though looking up Kathleen Carleys work at CMU on this could
                                  be worth your while.

                                  Anything can be modelled, it is the empirical testing and validation that
                                  takes time.
                                  I think your work sounds very interesting and I look forward to hearing more
                                  about it in the future.

                                  Kind Regards

                                  Andy

                                  ------------------------------------------------

                                  Andy Swarbrick


                                  Knowledge Network Consulting


                                  me@...


                                  ------------------------------------------------






                                  The best resource I can suggest is

                                  -----Original Message-----
                                  From: Ben Daniel [mailto:bkd_com@...]
                                  Sent: 07 January 2004 01:20
                                  To: com-prac@yahoogroups.com
                                  Subject: RE: [cp] Re: critical mass and CoP precipitation


                                  In fact, modelling CoP is a big challenge but it is
                                  not impossible or a hopeless effort. Depending on what
                                  purpose the computational model actually serves, it
                                  might be possible to model parts or the whole to
                                  infer some overall behaviour. Partial models might be
                                  used as input for decision making or for building more
                                  sophisticated models.
                                  One big challenge we have with most social constructs
                                  is that they tend to be imprecise, incomplete and
                                  sometimes even vague. Take forinstance the notion of
                                  social capital. This is a multivariate construct. It
                                  can be means or an end or even both. Now how do you
                                  develop an accurate model of something like that?
                                  Well, I am doing somework on social capital in virtual
                                  learning communities and distributed communities of
                                  practice. My models use Bayesian belief networks. And
                                  I think one big utility that can derived from my
                                  models would be the ability to understand changes in
                                  social capital and how decision-makers, policy
                                  analyst, and others can nurture or destroy social
                                  capital (especially those communities that breed
                                  hatred against other communities that are different
                                  from them).
                                  Well, in nutshell, precise, complete and accurate
                                  models for representing social issues requires
                                  sophisticated knowledge engineering techniques. But we
                                  can always do something with anything little.
                                  Ben

                                  In a general any social phenomenon--- Andy
                                  <andy@...> wrote: >
                                  > Hi Peter,
                                  >
                                  > I read with interest the conversation about critical
                                  > mass in CoP.
                                  > As an unshamed social network analyst (now looking
                                  > for home to call my own
                                  > having left my researcher position:-))
                                  > I agree with you when you said .
                                  > >Calculating critical mass is a tough challenge and
                                  > social network theory,
                                  > >whilst going in the right direction has, as far as
                                  > I'm aware, not begun to
                                  > >tackle this particular problem. That said, I have
                                  > just been introduced to
                                  > >the work of Karen Stephenson on modelling social
                                  > networks. This is going to
                                  > >be very useful to the CoP community (put in a
                                  > google search).
                                  >
                                  > Critical mass for initiation and sustainability is
                                  > something which I have
                                  > measured and modelling using network based
                                  > modelling, (while not fun for
                                  > everyone out there it is where I get my kicks).
                                  > Modelling such phenonmena
                                  > requires condiseration of all of the issues raised
                                  > in this debate about
                                  > multiple factors effecting the continuance of
                                  > membership of a CoP through
                                  > maintain links to its members.
                                  > CoP are hugegly complicated things to model for the
                                  > simple reason that no
                                  > one knows what they really are or what they look
                                  > like.
                                  > A highly connected cluster of people operating in
                                  > the same general area of
                                  > practice is a good one. Well they also have to have
                                  > some shared body of
                                  > knowledge, norms and practices which they are
                                  > involved in building and
                                  > maintaining. Thats where things start to become
                                  > really soft.
                                  >
                                  > Anyway, how we model them in the social network
                                  > field is usually (i say
                                  > usually, but it is a very new area of social network
                                  > research) is by using
                                  > multi agent social network models. That is
                                  > computational models where we can
                                  > embedd rules of interaction into individual agents.
                                  > These agents can be
                                  > people, databases, knowledge or anything else that
                                  > is interacted with in
                                  > some form.
                                  >
                                  > In practical use we use conventional SNA techniques
                                  > to map and measure
                                  > existing networks and contextual enquiry to get an
                                  > idea of processes
                                  > involved in the agents behaviour, we then use this
                                  > to create a
                                  > model/simulation of the social system over time. We
                                  > run this simulation
                                  > multiple sometimes hundreds of times to get an idea
                                  > of the most likely
                                  > outcome as it stocashtic rather than determinstic
                                  > model of group evolution.
                                  > This model can then be tested and tuned against the
                                  > actual behavior of the
                                  > network so that a model of behavior can be created
                                  > that allows for modelling
                                  > the impact of scenarios such as personnel loss or
                                  > change in work processes.
                                  >
                                  > For research and theory building, such as what
                                  > causes critical mass we model
                                  > a whole range of different behaviors within given
                                  > sceanrios to indicate if
                                  > the network will sustain itself.Not to say that all
                                  > ties will stay the same.
                                  > If the network does not change over time and
                                  > linkages remain the same the
                                  > network is likely to become inert.
                                  >
                                  > The problem of modelling social systems is of
                                  > scalability if we are only 6
                                  > degrees from everyone on the plannet how can we
                                  > possibley be able to model
                                  > the evolution of social-technical systems over a
                                  > long period.
                                  >
                                  > In the short term modelling small to medium sized
                                  > groups such a teams and
                                  > workgroups is possible in most organisations,
                                  > providing there is support for
                                  > such activities. As organisations become more
                                  > familar with social network
                                  > researcher techniques this modelling activity will
                                  > become the next step in
                                  > performance modelling for organisations (well I hope
                                  > so, anyway)
                                  >
                                  > Kind Regards and a very happy new year
                                  >
                                  > Andy
                                  >
                                  > me@...
                                  >
                                  > Knowledge Network Consulting
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > -----Original Message-----
                                  > From: plbond
                                  > [mailto:plbond@...]
                                  > Sent: 06 January 2004 11:44
                                  > To: com-prac@yahoogroups.com
                                  > Subject: Re: [cp] Re: critical mass and CoP
                                  > precipitation
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > Thanks to all who have responded to my enquiry on
                                  > critical mass. I thought I
                                  > would add a bit more by responding to some of the
                                  > comments.
                                  >
                                  > Ross Wirth said......
                                  >
                                  > I don't think there is a simple answer here because
                                  > the critical mass for
                                  > active participation is dependent on a number of
                                  > factors: degree of
                                  > involvement, scale of the community & the levels at
                                  > which conversations
                                  > occur, and questions regarding the application of
                                  > the power law to this
                                  > situation.
                                  >
                                  > > Chris Macrae said....
                                  >
                                  > It's interesting to ask what are the critical masses
                                  > needed both to get
                                  > > started and to sustain [a community].
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > As Ross suggests, I don't think there's a simple
                                  > answer and I'm about to
                                  > complicate it even more. When I say I am interested
                                  > in relationships it is
                                  > not simply between people but also between people
                                  > and artefacts, especially
                                  > tools , but also with descriptions of strategy, of
                                  > policy, of methods
                                  > (techniques) and recognised practice. We could say
                                  > that many of these
                                  > artefacts give rise to relationships. (We are now
                                  > well aware of the role of
                                  > the vending machine in facilitating conversational
                                  > practices.) These
                                  > relationships all contribute to the coherence and
                                  > hence structure of the
                                  > group-community-network. Of the practices,
                                  > conversation is going to be the
                                  > most important in both creating and sustaining
                                  > structures that enable
                                  > current and future practices. Relations (structure)
                                  > also precipitates
                                  > around certain people and in certain cases will
                                  > distort, and undermine, an
                                  > otherwise effective structure. That is, a structure
                                  > that enables effective
                                  > action. Its the shifting patterns of networks of
                                  > conversation that seem to
                                  > me to be the most important to identify and to
                                  > assess with regard to whether
                                  > they perform, strengthen, or weaken effective
                                  > structures. Many of these
                                  > conversations will be about winning resources,
                                  > allocating resources, and
                                  > coordinating actions required by strategy documents
                                  > and by others wo have
                                  > read such documents. Such actions will almost
                                  > certainly involve both
                                  > physical and conceptual tools (like the idea of CoP
                                  > itself).
                                  >
                                  > The dynamics of 'getting started' is another area
                                  > ripe for more research.
                                  > How effective can a 'business plan' be in
                                  > preciptating a structure that
                                  > enables it to be effectively and efficiently
                                  > transformed into effective
                                  > organisation? What personality traits between seller
                                  > and buyer need to be in
                                  > place before a relationship forms? One could go on
                                  > in this vein naming as
                                  > many variables as might constitute a 'start-up'
                                  > algorithm.
                                  >
                                  >
                                  === message truncated ===

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                                • Zsofia Orosz
                                  Hello, a very interesting discussion about critical mass, thank you all who have contributed. Could you please Ben expand a bit on the type of virtual learning
                                  Message 16 of 20 , Jan 7, 2004
                                  • 0 Attachment
                                    Hello,
                                    a very interesting discussion about critical mass, thank you all who have
                                    contributed. Could you please Ben expand a bit on the type of virtual
                                    learning communities and distributed communities of practice you are
                                    referring to? What do these communities focus on in their learning? Is
                                    there a website or a document you could send me describing in greater
                                    detail the models you have developed and some of the findings in the
                                    context of decision/policy makers influence on social capital?
                                    Many thanks, Sophie

                                    At / À 08:20 PM 1/6/2004, Ben Daniel wrote / a écrit:
                                    >Well, I am doing somework on social capital in virtual
                                    >learning communities and distributed communities of
                                    >practice. My models use Bayesian belief networks. And
                                    >I think one big utility that can derived from my
                                    >models would be the ability to understand changes in
                                    >social capital and how decision-makers, policy
                                    >analyst, and others can nurture or destroy social
                                    >capital (especially those communities that breed
                                    >hatred against other communities that are different
                                    >from them).


                                    Zsofia Orosz
                                    Research Officer
                                    Ecosystem Approaches to Human Health/People, Land and Water
                                    International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
                                    PO Box 8500, Ottawa, Ontario, K1G 3H9, Canada
                                    t: (1-613) 236-6163 ext. 2533
                                    f: (1-613) 567-7748
                                    zorosz@...
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