KM4Dev and Bev and Etienne Wenger-Trayner – April 6-7 2017

Care about communities of practice? Care about how we build and share knowledge in any context? In international development? Like hanging out with fun and interesting people? Then get yourself registered for a regional KM4Dev gathering here in Seattle on April 6-7. Our focus is communities of practice: the heaven and everything else. (Registration)

Our goal is to share practical experiences of the application of Communities of Practice (CoPs) and explore what is working, not working, when and why or why not. As practitioners, we will share stories and cases on day 1 to extract patterns and insights with a particular focus on the purpose of a CoP in a particular context, its fitness for purpose and practices that support success.

On day 2, tighten your seat belts as we will host a rare public workshop with CoP leading thinkers, Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner who will share their Value Creation Framework to  identify and measure value created by communities and networks. Together, the two days will link the essential anchor of purpose, with an emerging framework for assessing our progress towards purpose. I don’t know about you, but there are not many frameworks that really dig into the value of CoPs and networks… too many just measure activity. This is a GOLD MINE, my friends. Don’t miss it!

This is a practitioners workshop, using examples and experience, bolstered by theory. It is not a “CoP’s Introductory” workshop nor a review of CoP theory. Come with your real world stories, challenges and insights, prepared to share, think, and make sense of our work. We will use a variety of participatory methods, many drawn from Liberating Structures http://www.liberatingstructures.com/, to engage and unleash the knowledge and energy of everyone present.

Don’t work in international development? We still love and welcome you!

We will gather in the brand new Centilia Cultural Center at Plaza Roberto Maestas http://www.elcentrodelaraza.org/room-rentals/, hosted by the long time Seattle institution, El Centro de la Raza. In the south end of Seattle, steps away from a Light Rail station, the Center itself is a hub of community and network activity of the Latino community in the area.

Come both days or just one (same price either way). Just JOIN US. Register HERE. Questions? Leave them in the comments.

Liberating Structures: I’m a String Being

RhapsodyMany of you know I’ve been using Liberating Structures a lot in my facilitation work. One of the “leaps forward” for me in the last year has been my ability to string various structures into a coherent agenda. The leap has come from learning about other practitioners’ strings, and batting ideas back and forth with them about my strings both visually and in text. (The visuals really help me!) This “thinking together”  helps me consider my plan and improvisational options so I stay fully present AND flexible when I facilitate. The strings also help me be transparent both with my clients and participants, and I can easily encourage them to learn, use and take ownership of their own meetings. (I am insisting more and more on every gathering being, among other things, a way to up our collective practice/intelligence on working/playing/thinking together.)

I’ve been thinking about those of us working on strings together as “string beings!”

I was thrilled when Keith McCandless made the most recent  LS News & Updates about Rhapsody for Strings 🎻🎼 The newsletter shares a set of strings along with very short narratives of each string. The strings of Tim Jasko-Fisher and Fisher Qua, layering structures over each other were particularly enlightening. (Images below) I asked Keith if it was ok to republish here to spread the news even more widely and have included it below, along with some of the fabulous strings that our group shared.

Here is a string I shared:

c6401977-e1a8-4386-8d49-70c3aa69e5c6

 

I’m also interested in how to easily share and work on strings together (see this reflection on some tool testing we did.) I am getting more and more questions directed to me individually, and I think it would be more useful and efficient to do this as a community. For one thing, each person would have access to a wider repertoire of experience and strings. And two, there is great learning in the process, so why not share it. So maybe you want to become a String Being too. Read to the bottom of the newsletter for how to join us…

Here is the newsletter text:

One Liberating Structure can transform a meeting.  A powerful string can draw out much-better-than-expected results in a way that forever shifts the pattern of working together. Below, accomplished maestros share and rhapsodize about their favorites.

As familiarity with the LS repertoire increases, there are an infinite number of combinations and riffs.  AND, there are certain strings that simply knock your socks off. With the suggestion that a picture tells a thousand words, the editor [Keith] has limited the narrative from each maestro to a puny three sentences. Future LS News will feature interviews that dig deeper into details (e.g., invitations, twists, turns, and LS punctuation).

  1. Building Financial Literacy with High School Students
  2. Liberating Learning Together:  Using LS in Our Work
  3. Leadership Retreat: High Dive Into Collective Strategy-Making
  4. Tap the Founder’s Story To Uplift Next Level Innovation
  5. Management Meeting: In Charge But Not In Control
  6. Get Over Yourself, NOW! Prepare To Go Deeper with Your Customers
  7. Cross-Sector Community Groups Catalyzing Learning + Action
  8. Catalyzing Nursing Knowledge for BIG Data Science
  9. Strategic Planning to Tactical Plans in Three Fractal Movements

We know there are many more maestros who have strings to share. There is an experiment underway on Slack for people to give and get help from other practitioners. Joining is clunky at the moment (if there are any Slack maestros out there, help us?!): Email Fisher to request access. (You can also email me and I can add you- NW)

Source: [LS News & Updates] Rhapsody for Strings 🎻🎼

Resource Guide to Learning Delivery Methods

resource guide to learning

What learning delivery methods are there and how do you consider them? In 2014 Scott Leslie and I supported an analysis for decision making on training strategies for the International Labour Organization’s Microinsurance Innovation Facility, now the Impact Insurance Facility (http://www.impactinsurance.org/ ).

As I moved on to other related works, I kept drawing on these initial documents. Finally, I’ve gotten around to a) getting permission from the ILO to share (THANK YOU!) and trying to pull out some of the domain specific stuff so it might be more widely useful.

The Resource Guide to Learning Delivery Methods  (pdf for now) is a version of one of the outputs of our work, shared with permission from the Facility with the hope that it adds value to your work. (The other elements include a Glossary and a Strategic Options documents.) We hope to also put these online for crowd-sourced critique and revisions. (TBA!) In the meantime, I just want to get this OUT THERE!

From the Introduction:

This document is a version of one of the outputs of our work, shared with permission from the Facility with the hope that it adds value to your work. (The other elements include a Glossary and a Strategic Options documents.) We hope to also put these online for crowd-sourced critique and revisions. (TBA!)

The Facility team was evaluating their e-learning options to expand capacity building for microinsurance for the poor. An early identified need was to understand elearning in the wider context of delivery mechanisms.

The basic content can be useful when starting to consider capacity development, training or specifically an e-learning strategy. It is not exhaustive, and some things have become dated since it was written. Understanding that, it can help you understand the range of learning options, and where they might be most effective.

We surveyed 20 different learning delivery methods across five major categories:

  • Face-to-face delivery methods
  • Online delivery methods:
    • Traditional online courses
    • MOOCs, communities & self-directed learning
    • Synchronous methods
    • Mobile delivery methods
  • Offline delivery methods
  • Blended and hybrid methods

This guide is the detailed analysis of these methods in the context of the Facility’s domain. It includes a general description, domain-related examples, and provides insight and comparisons on these methods based the qualities the organization identified as key to assessing any proposed solution. These qualities include:

  • the implications of this method on scalability and adaptability of content
  • implications on quality control
  • any effects the method may have on motivating learners’ completion of training and achievement of learning objectives
  • the ease and costs of implementing any of these methods

Your qualities may be different, so you may wish to consider your needs and how the methods may or may not meet your needs. This document is offered as a Free Cultural License as defined by the Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/ .

So You Want to Host a Web Meeting? A Resource

webconferencingA long time ago in a planet far far away, a group of people asked if I could share some of my web meeting tips. I have a lot of tips, most of them learned from many many colleagues from all over, both from watching the masters work and from resources they have created. Finally, I got around to starting the project. It was supposed to be a “tip sheet” of 1 page, both sides. hahahahahaha…

Because I love my smart friends like Pete Cranston (the instigator, I might add) http://uk.linkedin.com/in/petercranston, Susan Stewart http://guidedmeetings.com/ and Bonnie Koenig http://www.goinginternational.com/about/, I started a google doc. They added ideas, and I started writing.  You can see the genesis here.

Many pages later we have  So Yo Want to Host a Web Meeting? I hope you find it useful, and as always, I welcome comments, suggestions for improvements, additional resources, and catching me if I did not attribute properly. The latter was very difficult because so much of this has been learned along the way and ingrained into my practice. The challenges of standing on so many shoulders!!

Edit: 2/17/16 A great pre-webinar activity for when people are logged on and waiting for the meeting to begin from Rachel Smith at The Grovehttp://www.grove.com/pdfs/Do-Nows.pdf 

Ponderings on Network & Community Governance Part 1

Warning: LONG thinking-out-loud post! And note, the best stuff is in the comments!

For the last month or so there have been some very interesting conversations on the KM4Dev email discussion. One of them has been a reflection on the governance of KM4Dev, particularly the role of the current Core Group and the overall business model. KM4Dev has been around for over 10 years and grown to be a vibrant and respected community. It certainly is one of my very central communities of practice and I love and fret over it a lot. I was on the Core group from its inception until about 18 months ago when I stepped out, partly from burnout, partly from frustration, but keenly aware that my “just do it” attitude had longer term ramifications of people expecting me and the other “do-ers” to, well, just get it done. That is dis-empowering. (And I can be, um, a little dominating? 🙂 ) Now, back to the question of governance.

This begs the question, what kind of animal IS KM4Dev? A community of practice (CoP)? A loose, affiliated network of people interested in KM in development? A service? How should this inform our choices? Are there sufficient distinctions in the governance and supporting infrastructure of a larger network, versus a more bounded community? Or is it more dependent on the nature of that community or network?

As I read the messages, there were those who advocated a strong group for governance, for a paid secretariat staff. For formality. Others suggested developing multiple local offshoots and centralize the support functions in those volunteer hubs. From ideas for spin offs that embrace diverse business models, pleas for funding, to a very open, “let it be” model, all struck me as models that reflected each person’s world view.  Some  fundamentally urged the group to become more of an advocate for KM in development as a community, while others kept a more CoP-traditional perspective of the group as a place for its own learning. Do academics prefer more formality? What causes people to think paid positions are more generative for the community than volunteering? Are there ramifications beyond reliability? SOOOO many things to consider.

I then sent the following message to the group (this is just part of the message. It was a rambly, early morning thing!):

Here is my perception (NOT FACT) Those of us who prefer structure and some degree of formality discussed more about governance and secretariat (and I suppose, have a clearer idea about that differentiation. It is not a language used outside of development much here in the US!) Those of us who prefer informality (or perhaps, just fleeing too much structure!) emphasize the more emergent and adhoc options. Those who are taking a strong community lens focus on the community aspects of volunteerism and self organization. Those with a KM lens, (which in fact, have not stood out in my memory of reading these threads — INTERESTING) advocate for structures which focus on KM and finally, some have advocated structure that in fact advocates for international development.

How do we find your way forward with all these options? Furthermore, how do you discern options where people will “walk their talk” and pick up leadership. It is all nice and good to say “YOU should do this or that.” But in the end, if no one in the community is willing to step up to the tasks, all is probably lost. If no one cares enough to value and use what is provided – paid or not, what is it worth?

Consider this:  if you look at the number of people posting in the thread (less than 20?) compared to the list of members on the email list and/or our NING site (2500+), how do you reconcile the individual advocacy for a particular path forward with the huge, silent, larger whole? To whom does this “governance” thing matter? Is it important to those who simply see KM4Dev as an email list they can dip into when they need it – a sort of service? To those who avidly read, but rarely or never post for a host of reasons? To those of us who perhaps love KM4dev too much? 🙂

So I started doodling.  Is it useful to examine our governance and structure questions from a variety of lenses, and then find out if there is a sweet spot between them? From the conversation I discerned three possible lenses or perspectives including:  Community, KM (in development) and Advocacy for KM in Development. Here is what I sketched on my notebook.

governancescribbles

For example, philosophically I absolute love the idea that KM4Dev should be more altruistic and more actively serve development. The realist in me says this is a structural mismatch, that indeed, by focusing on community and KM, we become stronger agents of that wider change through other, more formalized structures (of our orgs, etc) and we become INFLUENCERS as a network.  But that does not exclude forays into advocacy. The lenses do not imply “either/or” but simply help us explore from a variety of perspectives. Here is a very imperfect first try and looking across the three example lenses :  

ThreeKM4DevLenses

If I look across the three, there is less difference between the community lens and the domain lens, while the advocacy lens presents unique benefits and needs. As noted above, it looks to be a far stretch for KM4Dev to pull that off. That said, KM4Dev might be an amazing incubator for a more focused group working on the advocacy.

So the next level of resource implications are about the degree of importance KM4Dev activities and artifacts have to be polished to the level of acceptance by development organizations and practitioners outside of the community. In other words, legitimacy beyond the community. This seems to require more infrastructure and thus more refined business models (funding) and processes.

So the question is, what does the community want and what can it pull off. And I’d personally add, how does it differentiate itself from yet another organization?

Help me improve my thinking.

P.S. If you look back up to the first image, you will see some scribbling on the lower right of the notebook sketch. I’ll post about that in the next blog post.  Stay tuned for Part 2 of Nancy’s Ramblings….