Well over the past few weeks I’ve been working to contact and communicate to about 40 different people what a Community of Practice (CoP) is and why they would want to be a part of one. We recently launched two new CoPs aligned to our lines of business. One in mid-June the other on Tuesday this week. Attendance to both calls was pretty good about 16 people attended each call from all three main Geos (APAC, Americas, EMEA) and they were from across our technical functional groups.
Now we have 3 CoPs running for each of which I act as the Community Coordinator. The goals for all three groups are the same: To capture knowledge and best practices and share that with other HDS colleagues.
The 1st CoP has been running the longest at 6 months. We have had 6 meetings and attendance varies between 10 and 12 people across GEOs and functional groups. At our last meeting I asked how the the members thought the calls were going. And the response was all positive though everyone was awfully quiet. If anyone has ideas on how to jump start the conversation on a conference call I would appreciate any insights. It seems to take people at least 10-15 mins to warm up before they start discussing.
Also I recently read a great white paper on Evolving Communities of Practice by Patricia Gongla and Christine Rizzuto who studied CoPs at IBM Global Services after the communities were active for about 5 years. I was pleased to see that all communities are not the same, have different rates of growth and different levels of participation. From the reading I now characterize CoPs as snow flakes. No two snow flakes are alike, hence no two CoPs are alike. I was also able to get in touch with one of the authors Christine Rizzuto, who consultants with companies and non-profits on setting up CoPs. Christine was a wealth of information and I will be sure to try to learn as much from her as I can.