Community of Practice Progress Review (70:20:10 Certification Pathway)

This post reviews progress against my 70:20:10 Certification pathway.

Coca-Cola Amatil Supply Chain is developing knowledge sharing using Communities of Practice (COP). It’s six months since our first COP was formally launched, in Maintenance and Engineering, and shortly after this for our Systems Super Users and Key Users. As we are starting to develop our 2016 business plans and budgets this is a good time to consider progress, benefits and next steps.

We set up a single Maintenance and Engineering COP and invited all maintenance and engineering team members in Australia and New Zealand to participate – around 200 people. In the Systems area we launched three COPs – one for each operational system in scope, approximately 50 people in total. In both instances we launched these communities using a five week guided social learning program (Work, Connect and Learn – WCL) to develop skills and behaviours to participate in the COP. We ran WCL initially for the entire Maintenance and Engineering community, and then separately for the Systems communities. I shall post separately on evaluation of the WCL program.

The current maturity of these COPs is shown below on the Community Maturity Model from the Community Roundtable.

COP Maturity

The three crucial COP characteristics (as defined by Wenger-Trayner ) of domain, community and practice were used to identify factors impacting COP maturity – as shown in the table below.

COP Factors

Examples of value creation were identified in the Maintenance & Engineering and SAP Manufacturing COPs in particular, including:

  • Streamlining of processes
  • Sharing resources for troubleshooting
  • Cross-site input on problem resolution
  • Sharing improvements / lessons learned

Case studies and examples of successful COPs within organisations in similar industries and environments (manufacturing, engineering and technically oriented settings) were identified and reviewed (view curated articles). Lessons drawn from these case studies and our experience include:

  • Carefully define the domain and purpose of COP – keep it narrow enough to be attainable
  • Form strategically designed COPs aligned to business goals, set tangible outcomes, and find ways to integrate activities with work (e.g. link to projects, build activities into work flow), support and guide them closely
  • Provide guidelines and a lighter touch for other COPs that form
  • Provide guidance and support to help people access and interact in COPs
  • Make sure that interesting content is available
  • Enable Subject Matter Experts to become COP champions
  • Generate active senior management support

Most importantly, it is clear that value created by COPs can take considerable time to materialise. The key insight is that to generate tangible performance improvements you need to put effort and resource into community management. Accordingly, a key review recommendation is the appointment of a dedicated Community Manager.

Next steps identified are:

  • Create community strategies and road maps to build existing COPs.
  • Advocate for creation of the Community Manager role
  • When the Community Manager role is established (assuming it is), identify and design focused cross-functional COPs aligned with business processes with high impact on priority goals in our business strategy
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  1. Work, Connect & Learn Program Q&A | Michelle Ockers
  2. Community of Practice Case Study | Michelle Ockers
  3. Creating a SharePoint infrastructure for knowledge sharing | Michelle Ockers

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