Facilitating a Community of Practice

What does it mean?

I see a Facilitator as the hostess with the mostest. You’ve found space to put on a fabulous party, invited guests who you’re sure are going to get along, and there is coffee and cake for everyone. Take a look at this article here about the role of the Facilitator.

What’s to do?
Firstly, see our blog here about how to start up a CoP.

From here on, there are a few things it’s handy for the Facilitator to do, but other members of your CoP may offer to help if it’s more suited to their personality and skills.

  • Administrating the CoP virtual space, to approve membership requests, update pictures and text as the CoP defines its domain and matures.
  • Using the virtual space to make conversations, store handy documents, post links to articles / videos / blogs and the like relevant to your CoP. At the start of your CoP, you and the domain might be the only common links between your members; making everyone feel comfortable and happy to contribute is a good thing. Email me with any website queries if you’re stuck.
  • Setting up some regular meetings is also a good thing! In person is great, especially in the early stages of your CoP to get to know each other – teleconferencing or video calls are useful too. Other CoP members can offer to help here, e.g. by finding a space to meet, pulling together your CoP’s questions, blogging about it afterwards.
  • If you need help with keeping track on who has offered to do what, and what your CoP next steps are, use the docs linked below. Again, this may be something another CoP member can offer to be accountable for.

State of Play summary
Momentum Plan

How often should I be doing stuff?
It depends a little on the wants and needs of your CoP, how many members it has, the domain and its aims. It also depends on the maturity of the CoP too, as a Facilitator you will find your ‘hands on’ involvement in keeping the CoP going ebbs and flows with that of the membership. Generally speaking, as your CoP coalesces and matures, its membership will gain confidence and offer more to it, sharing accountability for maintaining momentum.

I would recommend that you log in to your website account once or twice a week for 15-30mins to reply to posts or create them, and if you encourage your members to do the same your CoP will be thriving in no time. The beauty of the CoP forums is that the conversation will stay archived and ready to re-start whenever you’re ready to contribute to it, so there is no need to synchronise watches and be online to chat at the same time (although, you could if you wanted to).

How often you meet up is up to you as a CoP and what you feel you need to strengthen your relationships and tackle your burning questions. Remember you can use the open space time we have at Basecamp events for your CoP to meet too, so if you’re planning to attend encourage your members to come along. If you need help accessing tele / video -conferencing facilities, then get in touch with me and we’ll see what we can do.

What if it’s not for me?
That is totally fine. Depending on what stage your CoP is at, there are a couple of options available. One is to throw it open to the members to decide – if someone is happy to take over, give them the opportunity to speak up. If your CoP is still in its infancy and has yet to gain enough momentum to support itself then it may make more sense to close it down.

Either way the Support Team can help you get to the bottom of what the best option is, so please do get in touch at any point to bend our ears.


Image via Creative Commons