Communities of practice were introduced in Ericsson in the early 2000s. Here are some lessons from their experience.
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These two sources provide between them 13 lessons from the Ericsson experience.
- Communities are built with “magnets” and “glue” - domain interest and content value attract people to the community, and then the relationships bond the members.
- A low-keyed implementation approach leaves more room for adaptation and lowers the risk for “campaign fatigue".
- The role of the community leader is critical in facilitating, supporting, nurturing and guiding the process of networking.
- There are three types of users for a new system - early adopters, early rejecters and neutrals. Energy is better spent using the early adopters as pilot users helping to draw in the neutrals rather than trying to convince the non-believers.
- Recruiting the experts into communities requires special consideration. Top experts don’t always have the best social skills, they already know the topic ,and feel they don't need the community. If experts are reluctant to join, then the community should tap into the “second tier” of knowledgeinstead.
- Keep a balance between bottom-up and top-down communities, to both encourage new ideas and maintain focus on purpose and objectives.
- It is easy to participate in online communities but difficult to develop relationships and feeling of community. Make sure there are face to face events as well.
- It is easier to get answers than questions. Once you get a question, 91% of the time it receives an answer.
- It is easier for people to respond to a question if notified by email
- It is beneficial to have a moderator who can follow up on unanswered questions, initiate community dialog, and keep the “pot boiling”.
- Discussions don’t tend to form long threads; they are rarely longer than 10 messages. The system was initally meant to stir lively discussions between experts, but instead added value through answering questions and solving problems.
- Content value is critical and it is necessary to regularly purge incorrect or obsolete information.
- Good community recruiting policies include recruiting people who are active in other discussion forums or inviting someone to respond to a particular question.