Hand Drawn Checklist

Hand Drawn Checklist

Hand Drawn Chart Saturday

The simplest definition of a community of practice (COP) is people connecting, encouraging each other and sharing ideas and experiences. There are a few basic logistics that will affect the efficiency of a community of practice.  On the surface, logistics impact ease and comfort of a meeting but in a deeper sense, impact the ability for members to connect and share information. A basic logistics checklist would include meeting announcements, facilities, and agenda.

Community of practice meeting agenda:

Basics

__ Meeting date

__ Meeting location

__ Meeting time

__ Agenda

Meeting time and place can include lunch and learns (getting together over lunch to connect and learn). For co-located teams or distributed groups videoconferences/teleconferences might be the only option.

Communities of practice are typically more effective when members can physically meet. Teleconferences and videoconferences tend to foster partial attention during presentations and do not support random networking. Where possible each COP should be local. That means that in larger organizations each location will have its own COP for an area of interest. The local COP will connect periodically with like COPS outside their specific location. For example, I recently observed an Agile COP in a large multinational organization (that was supported and funded by the corporate headquarters). A team from headquarters facilitated the development of local COPs in each location (where there was an interest). Facilitation included ensuring rooms were available for meetings, funding was provided for lunch, activities and at least once, for beer and wine. Most importantly the corporate sponsorship ensured time to meet was made available. On a quarterly basis an organizational video-conference was held (lead by one of the local groups) and then annually an in-person conference was held. This has been going on for seven years.

The meeting program is crucial for gaining and holding interest. There a number of programming items for a community of practice that can be considered:

Category 1 – Networking:

__ Networking time with food or other sorts of social lubricant (sharing meals/food has been shown to be an effective team building tool)

__ Open sharing rounds (go around the room and share a success or failure)

Category 2 – Content:

__ Process demonstrations (demonstrate process/technique used within the organization or review a project that was of interest)

__ Agile or process related games (interactive games generate involvement and interest)

__ YouTube videos (introduce new ideas from outside experts without having to arrange for a speaker)

__ Outside presentations (new ideas from outside the team boundary to challenge biases)

The goal of the programming for the sessions is to keep the community interested, learning and interacting based on a common interests. For a typical one hour session I generally select one option from each category.

Note: Each programming element will have different logistics. For example, if the session includes lunch, someone will need to order lunch. A short and probably incomplete list of items to consider is shown below:

__ Food / drink ordered

__ Audio visual items

__ Projector

__ Internet

__ Telephone / conference number

__ Webinar session

__ Speaker (with any needed security approval)

__ Props for Agile or process games

Wrap-up

__ Solicit ideas for the next session

__ Set the time and date for next session

__ Short retrospective (for example identify one thing you learned and one thing that can be done better next time)

Getting a community of process together so that it can meet it’s goal of generating support among the community members, to provide a platform to share trials and successes and to inject new ideas and energy into the community is not an ad-hoc process. Solid, long running COPs work diligently on ensuring that each interaction holds member’s attention and delivers value!

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