Here is a cautionary tale about the importance of Community of Practice facilitation, and what happens when the facilitator is removed.
The story comes from Tom Humbarger, who was the community facilitator for a professional community from January 2007 until he was made redundant in July 2008.
During Tom's active role the community grew from zero to 4,000 members but as the picture above (of the number of weekly visits to the community site) shows, things changed once he was no longer playing the facilitator role. Once he was no longer in place
- Membership growth dropped by more than 63% on a week to week basis.
- The number of visits to the community forum dropped by 60%
- The number of pages viewed per visit dropped by 22%
- The time on site decreased by 33%
The community of practice limped on for a few more months, but performance was lacklustre.
Tom's story, and the graph above. demonstrate clearly the value that a facilitator brings to a community of practice.