Communities of Practice

This blog is called kmapprentice. So I guess its time to write about my recent KM work. Recently I’ve been part of a group trying to get a Community of Practice (CoP) started up and focused on a specific technical topic.

Our method was to:

  1. Identify the key subject matter experts (SMEs) on the topic from inside the company.
  2. Of those SMEs identify those that had 4 basic values
    1. Demonstrated Leadership
    2. Technical Excellence
    3. Results Oriented
    4. Easy to work with
  3. We then contacted each of the 20 core team members about their participation and provided a presentation on the CoP back ground.
  4. Each member of the core team on the CoP was given a set of HW to:
    1. Name, years at company and area of focus
    2. An influence map of the groups that had contact with
    3. Their top three issues they would like to see the CoP work on
  5. The meeting was scheduled and completed this week

Some observations along the way:

  1. By individually calling each member I found that they were all quite eager to join and some were even honored to be asked. Others thought that is was fine but showed no great interest. But nobody said it would be a waste of time.
  2. Attendance was 95%, only one person did not show (and only because of time conflict). Prior to the meeting I sent a meeting reminder which may have helped attendance but who knows.
  3. Part of the first meeting was to do a round of introductions; however, since this was a conference call with participants from the UK and the US, we couldn’t just ‘go around the room’. So I picked a random order of introduction and put up their background slide while each person spoke. Also on the slide was the next person ‘on deck’. This seemed to work well as the introductions went efficiently.
  4. I felt it was necessary to setup the structure and expectations, so I did spend the majority of the time talking, however I hope that future meetings will be less so.
  5. For the most part the meeting went well and the discussion while not ground breaking was good as participants warmed up.
  6. Unfortunately 45 minutes into the meeting a heated discussion started up and I was forced to step in and table the discussion. It also helped that a couple colleagues emailed me to also ask that I table the discussion, so I didn’t feel like I was overstepping the coordinator role. However, the discussion took the ‘wind’ out of the room and everyone got quiet again.
  7. I had to cut short part of the meeting so that we could end on time.

I think despite the lone tangential discussion the meeting went well and initial feedback was positive. I am looking forward to hosting the next one. If nothing else to see which participants decide to show up. I intend to follow up with a brief call to each member next week and have already sent them an email ‘thank you’ for attending.


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