Beads - Passion for Facilitation

Capacity development, learning, change, poverty/power/progress

Blog about learning/change, facilitation, systems: small groups and large scale processes, and poverty/power/progress.

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What is your role in a community of practice?

Over the weekend, I followed a tweet to test your role in a community of practice. It comes just at the right time, when I am preparing to facilitate an online community for the first time in my life. I thought it might help me recognise various types of community people. Just like you always have different types of participants in a group, and different team behaviour.

When I did the test, I tried to think of my real habits when I am part of a community of practice, like the Linked-in groups and Yammer communities of which I am a member. I was also considering my behaviour in the social media course that I'm following, which also functions a bit like a community of practice (see foto for a definition of CoP). The test shows that I have the following preferred roles in a community of practice.

My most preferred role is the member / Community Members must possess a strong desire to collaborate and share knowledge. They take active ownership in the community by participating in its events and activities. They not only form the natural boundary of the practice or expertise, but also drive the level of commitment and growth of the community.

I can recognize this indeed: I will never hesitate to write something online when I am triggered, and I'm easily triggered. If any of my ex-colleagues in SNV read this they will smile. I was an active contributer on the intranet, and made parts of it my own.

Secondly, the test shows that I am the sponsor in a community / A sponsor nurtures and provides top-level recognition for the community, thereby encouraging community growth and commitment of resources. As a sponsor, you can link the CoP to specific programs and projects, and pave the way for community success. A community sponsor believes in the value of knowledge sharing, and promotes participation in community activities.

Again, spot-on. Much of my experience lies in mainstreaming Gender and Governance, so I have had to become good at "selling" expertise. In my view mainstreaming is a combination of helping specialists to come down to earth, to the level of practice, and of helping managers to recognize the support needed beyond lipservice to make mainstreaming successful. CoPs are an excellent means for mainstreaming in this sense. Mainstreaming CoPs ideally have specialists, practitioners and managers.

As a good third, I am the subject matter expert / Subject matter experts are approachable, collaborative, and cooperative. They serve as the keepers of the community’s knowledge and practice, and play a key role in sharing tacit knowledge with the members.

Oof, what a relieve that this role comes out, because that's part of what I like to be. The reason for doing this ning is in part to make (tacid...) knowledge about capacity development practice accessible.

Innitially it was a bit of a shock to realise that the role of the leader did not come out at all in the test. / A community leader provides the overall guidance, management, and the personal qualities needed to build and maintain the community. They provide day-to-day support, while serving as an active, contributing member. The leader plays an integral role in the community’s success by energising the sharing process and providing continual nourishment for the community.

However, now that I think about it, the other roles indeed do come more naturally. It means that I need to think twice about offering to lead a CoP. It's true that the day-to-day nourishment of individuals is not my strength. I'm more focussed on the whole achieving something. Good to realise that!

The role of the facilitator came out minimally as well. / Facilitators network and connect community members by encouraging participation, facilitating and seeding discussions, and by keeping events and community activities engaging and vibrant. Trustworthiness and the ability to be a team player are central to assuring the credibility and reputation of the facilitator.

If I look at this ning, it is true. I'm not yet facilitating participation here... I am however learning how to do virtually what I do well in real life, so keep watching Beads!

There is one last role the core team member which also did not come out stronlgy. / The core team member is instrumental in establishing effective interaction for the community. They play a role in the working group that initially performs start-up activities, like planning. The core team member is knowledgeable and experienced in the area of work, and can advise the group of good practices in the work area.

Right, that's not me!

I think these roles will indeed help me to recognise various types of people in a community, and help me identify those in the community who can play valuable roles to complement my roles. Thanks Micheal Norton for your blog with the test, and thanks Joitske for the tweet that let me to it!

 

 

 

 

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Comment by Joitske Hulsebosch on February 27, 2012 at 14:12

Hi, interestingly I also thought you would be more of a leader. I came out as subject matter specialist and member/core member..

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