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Re: [cp] Re: Grant-supported launch of a community of practice

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  • Jacqueline Saldana
    Hello John, Personally, I do not have experience working with externally funded communities. In my experience, however, I have seen how the degree of
    Message 1 of 9 , Mar 27, 2011
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      Hello John,

      Personally, I do not have experience working with externally funded communities. In my experience, however, I have seen how the degree of "institutionalization" can hinder the effectiveness of a community. Wenger (et al., 2002), who initiated the academic theories of CoPs warned about the delicate balance between guiding a community of practitioners and letting them be the practitioners. Every policy should be directed to stimulate their passion to create something. After all, is the organic nature of the CoPs what make them a feasible vehicle to the creation and dissemination of new practices. I worked three years with global CoPs and am completing a doctoral dissertation in the communication dynamics of CoPs. I can share with you the following tips as identified by my research and experience.

           1. The level of activity will change among members as a general CoP rule. Generally, a 10-20% initiate and drive actions, 90-80% collaborate from the periphery. This is, you need champions who take charge of leading peers. Without champions you will be lost.
           2. The CoP needs to articulate a vision. Vision is the glue that sustains CoPs either at the community level as in big corporations.
           3. Successful projects in CoPs come from groups that are self-directed, participative, and practice shared leadership.
           4. Management needs to be facilitator and motivator. Most successful CoPs have members whom have take ownership of their own practice/content/activity.
           5.Management can identify which areas they can help without interfere with the organic flow of CoPs. For example, it is proven that CoP members increase communication, motivation, and participation when management provides technologies and crafted resources to enable the practice. Another area to work is in the documentation of internal CoP practices and as repository of knowledge.
           6. Finally, base your managerial strategies under the assumptions of Practice, Community, and Domain. Each of these components produce specific outcomes that ensures CoPs to survive and produce. You can refer to the many established and emergent literature on CoPs. Until science proves the contrary, you should stick with what is working.

      I hope you luck with your project,

      Jackie Saldaña


      --- On Sun, 3/27/11, bty364210 <jenny.mackness@...> wrote:

      From: bty364210 <jenny.mackness@...>
      Subject: [cp] Re: Grant-supported launch of a community of practice
      To: com-prac@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Sunday, March 27, 2011, 8:41 AM

       

      Hi John - the ELESIG community - http://elesig.ning.com/  - was intentionally developed with funding for 6 months and launched at the beginning of 2008. It now has 1,212 members and continues to remain active with minimal financial support.

      I can send you a research paper that we wrote about our concerns for sustainability of the community when funding was withdrawn, if you are interested.

      Jenny

      --- In com-prac@yahoogroups.com, "John David Smith" <john.smith@...> wrote:
      >
      > Does anybody have an example of an intentionally-developed community of
      > practice that began with a chunk of funding that then became substantially
      > self-supporting?
      >
      > We've talked a lot about real and faux communities of practice over the
      > years, about technology, about facilitation and leadership, etc., etc. I'm
      > wondering whether starting a community without a really solid plan for
      > supporting its infrastructure is the kiss of death (or maybe the kiss of
      > mess)...
      >
      > John
      > * John David Smith ~ Voice: 503.963.8229 ~ Skype & Twitter: smithjd
      > * Foundations workshop starts April 4: http://cpsquare.org/edu/foundations
      > * Portland, Oregon, USA http://www.learningAlliances.net
      > * "There is no such thing as a non-self-organizing system." - Harrison Owen
      >

    • Hildy Gottlieb
      John: St. Luke s Health Initiatives in Phoenix has funded learning communities at a variety of levels, for many years. Some are ongoing with ongoing funding
      Message 2 of 9 , Mar 27, 2011
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        John:
        St. Luke's Health Initiatives in Phoenix has funded learning communities at a variety of levels, for many years.  Some are ongoing with ongoing funding and support, which does not specifically address your question. 

        The effort that DOES address your question, though is actually not touted as a learning community / CoP, but has embedded that as its way of being - that is their Technical Assistance Partnership program.  St. Luke's funds the groups for up to 2 years, after which it is common for groups to continue to meet and support each other for months (if not years) after that funding ceases.

        I believe at least one of their staff people monitors this list, but in case they don't pop up in the discussion, if you would like an introduction, please just let me know!

        Hildy

        Hildy Gottlieb
        Creating the Future
        Making Visionary Community Change Practical
        http://www.CreatingTheFuture.org
        http://www.hildygottlieb.com/
        520-321-4433
        Twitter: @HildyGottlieb
        Skype: HildyGottlieb



      • Deb Wisniewski
        Hi Kaye - I agree that there still are many inexpensive platforms available online - however I think the real expense is the person(s) who get the community up
        Message 3 of 9 , Mar 28, 2011
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          Hi Kaye -

          I agree that there still are many inexpensive platforms available online - however I think the real expense is the person(s) who get the community up & running - focusing both on community development and community management.  I've found that it takes time to get an online community to move to a place where the members initiate interactions without encouragement (or prodding) from a community manager.  I work with three different communities and I could spend my time just posting information that I get from others, but then it turns into the "Deb show" and members don't see it as "their" community.  

          Instead I spend a lot of time emailing or calling people who send me stuff and helping them learn what they need to do to post that info to our communities.  Then I point out to other members what was posted, suggesting that they respond because I know it's something they're interested in.  This all takes time, but  I do believe that this helps make the community grow.  I admit I want to be paid for my time feeding and watering these communities.

          Having said all that, one of the communities I work with doesn't pay me - the only expense is for the Ning Plus annual fee and we have gotten that donated by two different organizations.  I wish this community did pay me for my time - it's the one I'm most passionate about, but spend the least amount of time with.

          Deb 
          -------------------------------
          Deb Wisniewski
          Sharing Common Ground
          phone: 608-345-4761
          email: scgwis@...
          skype: debwisniewski
          LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/debwisniewski

          Check out my favorite online communities:
          ABCD in Action - http://abcdinaction.ning.com/
          SDS Network - http://sdsnetworkwi.org/
          Employment Network - http://employmentnetworkwi.org/

          "Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."
~ Harriet Tubman





          On Sun, Mar 27, 2011 at 1:08 AM, Kaye Vivian <viviak@...> wrote:
           

          John, speaking candidly...and possibly a bit naively...if someone came to me and asked what you suggested, I would say/think these things with my consultant hat on:

          • First, I would ask what results they hope to achieve with a community.
          • Then, I would give them a 1-minute education/summary of what a "community" is and the dynamics of how successful ones work, making sure they realize it might take a year or more for the community to gel enough to start producing the results they desire.
          • Next, I would ask whether they are committed to that type of interaction and outcomes, or whether they really just want a pilot experiment for a certain duration to see what happens.
          • Then I would ask if the community would be allowed to continue to exist after they have their answers or achieve the results they want to achieve (meaning, will they continue to provide the hosting services for the community, allow new members to join, and/or allow members to participate during work hours or from office connections).

          After I have those answers, I would confirm what they want to achieve, and give them a candid opinion (even if unsolicited) about whether a community is the right approach to use.  I'd like to think I would tell them to invest the money in other areas if they are trying to set up a community for reasons that will result in failure out of the gate. There are more important considerations than "we have grant money so let's build something."  Communities can fail for many reasons, and one of the strongest reasons that sponsored communities fail is lack of "management" support. If management is willing to throw money at making a community, but not willing to stand behind it and support it with their own time and encouragement, then it's going to fail anyway, so might just as well not be started.

          I might tell them to put away the checkbook anyway, even if they have X-thousands, because there are so many good free or practically free platforms right now for communities that it would be possible to conduct an adequate pilot without a significant investment. Maybe others have a different opinion or approach.

          Kaye



        • Deb Wisniewski
          Hi John - I work with two communities that are in a situation similar to what you describe. Both are funded through a new entity that has agreed to pay for
          Message 4 of 9 , Mar 28, 2011
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            Hi John -

            I work with two communities that are in a situation similar to what you describe.  Both are funded through a new entity that has agreed to pay for the platform costs and for my time (about 8 hours/week - wish it were more) - not a bizillion dollars, but a fair chunk.  These two communities are open to anyone who's interested in the particular issues they focus on and they're free to join.  There are several people from the sponsoring organization who see these communities as being of benefit to them, specifically:
            • to learn what are the hot topics that members might want additional training on (the sponsor is a training & TA organization)
            • to tap into the membership of the community for their input, ideas, etc. when designing new trainings.
            • to encourage the discussion of the values, strategies, etc. that are key to the mission of the organization (these are clearly stated as being the purpose of the communities as well - no sneaky stuff here).
            • To use the community as a way to promote events, trainings, etc. 
            When we started, there was no guarantee given that the sponsor would support these communities indefinitely.  Right now we have a funding through the end of 2011.  However, I have had another organization suggest that they are interested in financially supporting the communities if our original funder drops out.  And we are also considering selling ads to organizations who want to co-sponsor and whose missions/purpose is compatable with that of the community.  There is definitely interest in continuing what has just begun to happen in these communities - Not to toot my own horn, but I think that's at least partially true to me acting as cheerleader and meeting with key stakeholders in our state about how the benefits of these communities. As I'm fond of saying, it's all about relationships....

            Ok this sounds like I'm bragging.... We have lots of struggles with these as well, but that's for another day/email. I've got to go encourage some members to post something...


            -------------------------------
            Deb Wisniewski
            Sharing Common Ground
            phone: 608-345-4761
            email: scgwis@...
            skype: debwisniewski
            LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/debwisniewski

            Check out my favorite online communities:
            ABCD in Action - http://abcdinaction.ning.com/
            SDS Network - http://sdsnetworkwi.org/
            Employment Network - http://employmentnetworkwi.org/

            "Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."
~ Harriet Tubman





            On Sat, Mar 26, 2011 at 4:23 PM, John David Smith <john.smith@...> wrote:
             

            Hi Kaye,

             

            I understand what you’re saying, from a community member’s perspective. 

             

            But my question to you would be about your perspective as someone who knows about community formation.  What if a client comes to you and says, “Kaye, you’re an expert, etc., etc.  We have X-thousands or X-tens-of-thousands of dollars (or more) to launch a community on ZZZ.”  What do you say when it’s obvious that they are thinking very vaguely about the long-term?   

             

            John

            * John David Smith ~ Voice: 503.963.8229 ~ Skype & Twitter: smithjd

            * Portland, Oregon, USA http://www.learningAlliances.net

            *

            * Foundations workshop starts April 4: http://cpsquare.org/edu/foundations

            * “There is no such thing as a non-self-organizing system.” - Harrison Owen

             

            From: com-prac@yahoogroups.com [mailto:com-prac@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Kaye Vivian
            Sent: Saturday, March 26, 2011 1:15 PM
            To: com-prac@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: Re: [cp] Grant-supported launch of a community of practice

             

             

            Hi John,

            Wouldn't that model be similar to the likes of Ning?  Ning is "granting" people who start communities free access initially, and then after a time there is a monthly fee for participating.  It might seem more like a "free to try, pay to play" type model, but I think the only difference in a Ning-type community (or any corporate sponsored community) and a not-for-profit/grant supported community  is in the length of time when access for the community is provided at no cost to the community.  Personally, I have never participated in any community where someone else wasn't bearing the cost of it.  I wouldn't pay to be a part of a community, per se...although I would pay dues to belong to a group that sponsored a community that I value (and I have).

            Best wishes,
            Kaye




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