The third and final Dgroups Communities Webinar took place on 15 June 2015 and focused on how to maintain and troubleshoot your online community.
Facilitated by Lucie Lamoureux (KM4D Associates) the webinar was designed mostly as a peer-assist session. Two participants presented two case studies, illustrating the challenges they face in maintaining their communities of practice (CoPs). Other participants and the facilitation team provided feedback and suggestions on what can be done to overcome the challenges identified.
The first case presented the very common issue of stimulating participation in a community of practice. Their internal group comprises users in the headquarters and users in decentralized offices of a large international organization. In this specific case, the trend is for users in the decentralized offices to be less active, and therefore missing the opportunity to exchange and learn through the community.
Amongst others, webinar attendees suggested the following options and advice to deal with this issue:
- Keep restating the purpose of the community;
- Produce and share with the community some curated information;
- Keep on asking questions;
- Produce email digests/summary;
- Keep engaging the members by teasing out their ideas;
- Run it like a “journal”: new piece of research to be highlighted when published, and the members can comment. Leverage the possibility to have direct access to the author;
- Collect/share also the “thank you” messages, as it builds the community spirit;
- Ask the participants to state their expertise, and then invite “behind the scenes” to contribute to discussions when relevant;
- Convene a physical conference to build and strengthen links. This has proved to be very useful, but also very expensive;
- Consider that 10% active participation is common in several online groups and communities.
The second case focused on the challenge of responding to requests from within a CoP to transform a CoP from an informal and flat network into a formalised structure. This specific community is a mature and very active network, where some members want to take it to the next step. Proposed solutions for this case include:
- Breaking into subgroups – when the dynamics justifies it;
- Surveying of members – considering the risk to capture only the voice of the minority;
- Giving mandate to a specific subgroup to explore the way to work jointly for a limited time (year?)
- Split the group along the formal / informal pattern.
You can also find the materials from the previous two webinar in this series at the links below:
Last but not least, if you have any further suggestions for the cases highlighted here, or have additional topics/challenges about facilitating your community that you’d like to discuss in future webinars, please let us know in the comment section here below.