Action Oriented Communities of Practice

I came across the idea of Action Oriented communities of practice on the Anecdote blog by Shawn  Callahan. It refers to the point in the CoP life cycle when the group really benefits from creating tangible things designedto improve the members’ practice. This point occurs sometime after theearly days of formation after the members have worked out their domain,and they know who’s participating, how people get on with one another,and how members communicate.

The article refers to a five part approach designed to coordinate action within a CoP:

  • general discussion
  • discussion tables
  • a list of possible projects
  • small groups (ideally 3 people) working on things together
  • database of projects

The community makes progress by hosting discussion tables andencouraging active and robust conversation that leads people to suggestthings that would be good to do as a community. The list of projectsgrows and some are tackled based on the energy and enthusiasm ofmembers. The process of undertaking these projects in small groupscreates new relationships which in turn creates new conversations andnew ideas for future discussion tables.

I’m inclined to try this approach for the Facilitator’s Community of Practice for the IDeA, which I co-mentor. I was slightly disappointed at the response to a recent forum entry I posted within the CoP, asking what members wanted to get out of the community, i.e. their needs and objectives. There were only three responses from a total membership of fifty. However, this did trigger the suggestion for a meeting of the members, and I’m in the process of putting an agenda together now. I think the action oriented approach the Shawn describes in his blog would be perfect for this occasion, and I will put it to the CoP members for their views. I’m hoping though, I’ll get more then three responses!

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