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assessing cops

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  • Stefan de Bruijn
    Hi everybody, If you can spare the time, I would appreciate to get your feedback on this concept of a model to assess cops in my organization. Do you agree
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 15, 2000
      Hi everybody,

      If you can spare the time, I would appreciate to get your feedback on
      this concept of a model to assess cops in my organization. Do you
      agree with this approach, or have you found other variables that have
      a major impact on knowledge-sharing groups?

      As a Dutch University student, I'm studying communities of practice
      in a large research organization in South Africa. The aim of the
      research is to determine what communities or other knowledge-sharing
      groups already exist and to write guidelines for management on how to
      stimulate communities of practice. Because the strategic units in the
      organization tend to behave like silo's, the research is also focused
      on inter-unit (inter-silo)CoPs, in order to improve inter-silo
      knowledge sharing in the future.

      At the moment, I'm trying to identify the knowledge sharing groups
      within the organization and to classify them. Because I haven't found
      a model that is suitable to assess cops, I constructed my own.

      I have identified 6 variables that determine how succesful a
      community of practice will be. I measure the variables by using a
      questionnaire and interviewing the members. The variables are based
      on what I have found in literature.

      The variables I use are:
      1) Focus on Practice: Some groups within the organization are not
      focused on the practice of the members or on developing new
      practices. The interest of the cop should apply to the daily work of
      the members.

      2) Sense of Community: Sense of community differs between groups.
      Members of a successful CoP have a sense of belonging and identity
      tied to the group. This determines their commitment to contribution.
      If people do not trust each other, they will not share.

      3) Coordination: A community of practice that is focused on sharing
      knowledge (the target CoP in the research) should be coordinated.
      Coordinator, publisher etc.. Some groups are well coordinated but
      lack focus. Other groups are not well coordinated, but have a huge
      potential for coordination.(mostly 'natural' cops). And of course,
      some communities don't want to be coordinated.

      4)Span of Units: Since the research focuses also on inter-silo
      knowledge sharing, the number of units, over which the knowledge
      sharing group spreads, is therefore taken into account.

      5) IT support: How well is the community supported by IT in order to
      share knowledge? Virtual communities depend on IT, natural CoPs can
      do without (although it can improve the sharing).

      6) Management Sponsorship, Intensive knowledge sharing cops cannot
      do without sponsorship. They should get time, acknowledgement and a
      bridge to the organization.

      Reason for using these variables:
      I will use the configurations to decide what elements of exisiting
      knowledge-sharing groups have to be improved and stimulated by
      management in order to optimise the sharing of knowledge within cops
      between strategic units. The target CoPs for the research will have a
      maximum score on all of the variables.
      I'm not sure yet how to scale the variables. At the moment I'm
      thinking about using three levels: low, medium, high.

      The variables consist of subvariables. These subvariables are the
      basis for the questions in the questionnaire. The amount of
      subvariables that are present in the group, will determine the level
      of the variable.

      Do you think that these variables are suitable to assess CoPs? Please
      let me know, I'm looking forward to get feedback.

      By the way, John Smith, you asked for theses etc. I'm still in a very
      turbulent phase, but if you want to know more, let me know.

      Thanks and kind regards,
      Stefan de Bruijn
    • Chris Macrae
      Yes Stefan your variables are great Can we share them in a poll? Specifically to do this: 1) Stefan needs to agree we can use these descriptions 2) John needs
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 15, 2000
        Yes Stefan your variables are great

        Can we share them in a poll? Specifically to do this:
        1) Stefan needs to agree we can use these descriptions
        2) John needs to reset polls so that any member can post them
        3) I'd be happy to write up the poll. I am very interested in a side-benefit
        feature of egroup polls which is that those people who vote a variable has
        particular importance to them can see each others email addresses and thus
        fast forward discussion on that particular variable

        chris macrae

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Otten, Ron <ron.otten@...-it.com>
        To: <com-prac@egroups.com>
        Sent: 15 November 2000 06:05
        Subject: RE: [cp] assessing cops


        > Hello Stefan,
        >
        > Interesting subject for a research. I like the concept you developed. One
        of
        > your aims is to write guidelines for stimulation. I would like to evaluate
        > your variables in a reframed focus with your permission: "How to manage a
        > variety of communities?". Before the question how to stimulate is a
        question
        > "Should we do that?". In this light one of the first variables is to
        > classify the focus of a community and the expected results.
        >
        > Lots of success,
        >
        > Ron
        >
        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: Stefan de Bruijn [mailto:stefandebruijn@...]
        > Sent: woensdag 15 november 2000 9:53
        > To: com-prac@egroups.com
        > 1) Focus on Practice: Some groups within the organization are not
        > focused on the practice of the members or on developing new
        > practices. The interest of the cop should apply to the daily work of
        > the members.
        >
        > 2) Sense of Community: Sense of community differs between groups.
        > Members of a successful CoP have a sense of belonging and identity
        > tied to the group. This determines their commitment to contribution.
        > If people do not trust each other, they will not share.
        >
        > 3) Coordination: A community of practice that is focused on sharing
        > knowledge (the target CoP in the research) should be coordinated.
        > Coordinator, publisher etc.. Some groups are well coordinated but
        > lack focus. Other groups are not well coordinated, but have a huge
        > potential for coordination.(mostly 'natural' cops). And of course,
        > some communities don't want to be coordinated.
        >
        > 4)Span of Units: Since the research focuses also on inter-silo
        > knowledge sharing, the number of units, over which the knowledge
        > sharing group spreads, is therefore taken into account.
        >
        > 5) IT support: How well is the community supported by IT in order to
        > share knowledge? Virtual communities depend on IT, natural CoPs can
        > do without (although it can improve the sharing).
        >
        > 6) Management Sponsorship, Intensive knowledge sharing cops cannot
        > do without sponsorship. They should get time, acknowledgement and a
        > bridge to the organization
      • John D. Smith
        Stefan, A few thoughts: 1. I like your focus on practice factor. Seems like there could be many elements: centrality of the practice to the business,
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 15, 2000
          Stefan,

          A few thoughts:

          1. I like your "focus on practice" factor. Seems like there could be many
          elements: centrality of the practice to the business, relationship of
          various cycle times (e.g. of "doing the practice" vs. reflecting on it in
          CoP conversations, etc.), and visibility of the practice to the entire
          community.

          2. It's not clear where you will get at the leadership that exists within a
          community. Is it clear who the leaders are? Do they have the time?
          Important: can they articulate what the community does NOT KNOW in an
          actionable way?

          3. It might be helpful to write up a few sentences for a number of outcome
          scenarios -- what management might do with your research. Make sure your
          questions lead to reasonable actions and decisions. The needs of community
          builders and the needs of sponsors will often be different.

          4. Consider a best-case scenario: your survey will be repeated in 2 years.
          What comparisons will you (0r someone) want to make? It's hard to imagine
          developing "a baseline" but it can be very useful to have one later on.

          5. Consider that your research should make sense to several different
          communities: practitioners (like us) will ask certain questions, managers
          others, students / scholars yet others.

          6. Obviously a survey is an intervention itself. Consider what communities
          might want to know about themselves. (By the way: who speaks for these
          communities? That's a big political issue for you to be very careful of.)
          Could a by-product of your survey be a community directory that's
          published/shared regardless of what "management" decides to do?

          John

          --*
          --* John D. Smith, 503.963.8229, 2025 SE Elliott Ave, Portland OR 97214-5339
          --* http://www.teleport.com/~smithjd ICQ: 72789757 cell: 503-975-7799
          --* Winter 2001 CoP workshop starts Jan 8: http://www.ewenger.com/edu/
          --* "I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being
          taught."
          --* -- Winston Churchill
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