Some thoughts and advice to cultivating a community of practice–building effective collaboration techniques:
- Starting small does help, however, you can also be successful with larger groups as well.
- Listening and talking with others is a critical step. The more feedback you can get the better.
- Pulling people into the center is also important. Effective collaboration is really difficult to structure.
- It takes creative thinking and getting others to invest in the group process to build a strong community of practice.
Keep in mind, we often as for “volunteers” to take on tasks. There is inherent challenges in both asking and offering help. The person who might volunteer might not have the skills needed or people might not volunteer because they do not think that they have the needed skills.
I have found that people like to be needed. If you go quietly to people and tell them you really need their help, they are much more likely to volunteer. You have taken away the fear that they might have that they are not the right person. You picked them because of their skills. If they have reservations, it is easier for them to tell you what might be the program. And, understanding why people are reluctant to take on a task can be very valuable information.
KEY POINT: You need to think strategically to get people working together. It doesn’t just happen.