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How do we measure success with Communities of Practice?

How do we measure success with Communities of Practice?

Posted by ysongowilliams on 20 Mar 2017

I’ll be attending a KM4DEV practitioners’ workshop in Seattle on April 6 and 7, during which attendees will share practical experiences with managing Communities of Practice (CoPs) and explore what works (or not!). We will also learn from each other about practices that support the success of CoPs. (Click here for more information on the event and to register.)

I’m particularly excited about the second day’s agenda, when we will hear from CoP experts Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner, on using their Value Creation Framework to help identify and measure value created by communities and networks.

I know a lot of us struggle with this! Sure, we have some indicators of success at the output level (number of CoP members, analytics of community platform, etc.) but getting at those deeper outcome level measures has been somewhat elusive for many of us.

Has anyone used Bev and Etienne Wenger-Trayner’s Value Creation Framework in their work at all? If so, please share your practical experiences on how you used it here. Or have you used other frameworks to measure social learning within CoPs?  What was your experience with these? Thanks for sharing.

Feverbee's Take on Communities...Especially Online Communities

Posted by atodela on 3 Apr 2017

I'm quite excited to attend the very same CoP workshop later in the week! It is my first deep dive into the world of managing Communities of Practice so a lot to look forward to, especially hearing the experiences from other participants. (Stay tuned next week for our recap of the workshop - what we learned, what we would like to delve deeper into, and of course how Seattle is during springtime!)

In the meantime, check out Feverbee. Led by Richard Millington (author of Buzzing Communities), Feverbee's mission is to help organizations build engaged communities. They use data and science to guide their community engagement strategies; stress the necessity of passionate, full-time community managers and community champions; focus how communities can benefit members; and highlight the importance of the community's value and how to measure that metrically. 

There's a ton of information on their website, and their blog posts are always a fun read with valuable information to keep. Here's a few on measuring value:

Also, if you missed it, FSN Network's KM Task Force featured Richard Millington during the summer of 2016 to speak on online community engagement and assessing the health of online communities. Listen here

Thanks for sharing these

Posted by ysongowilliams on 10 Apr 2017

Thanks for sharing these Adrienne; I'm a firm believer in feverbee's data driven approach!

I think the fact that this thread is so silent underscores the challenges we face as a community in the area of measuring value successfully.

The struggle continues... if anyone has any experiences to share, especially with developing and measuring key performance indicators for their CoP, please share.


#KM4DEV17 Seattle and the value of the Value Creation Framework

Posted by atodela on 17 Apr 2017

Back in the District after attending KM4Dev’s Communities of Practice (COPs) event in Seattle last week! It was a 2-day fully interactive workshop that involved a lot of experience and knowledge sharing and learning among us 45 attendees, all coming from varying backgrounds in public and private sectors, and all managing different types of COPs.

The first day focused on sharing experiences in managing COPs. Each of the day’s sessions ran on free flow form with shift and shares and open spaces. We took turns giving an overview of our COPs, what we’ve been successful with and what challenges we’re facing, and in turn brainstorming ideas for potential solutions and new ventures. Day 1 provided a common ground for us to be familiar with each other’s COPs in preparation for Day 2’s deep dive into Bev and Etienne Wenger-Trayner’s presentation and workshop on the Value Creation Framework (VCF).

The Value Creation Framework is a 5-part (cyclical) framework that helps managers of COPs state what difference their communities will make and why it is important to sustain them (i.e. in most cases, fund their upkeep). In basic terms, the flow starts with a (1) learning activity (LA), then goes into (2) what participants of that LA experienced, which then leads to knowing (3) what they got out of it. This three-part flow is usually the standard definition of learning, but what the VCF argues is that the full value of the LA is not created until after two more parts: (4) what the participants did with the learning and (5) their transformation – individual behavior change or general organizational culture change – because of the new knowledge.

The VCF focuses on the idea of social learning, and the value created on each step of the process: (1) immediate value, (2) potential value, (3) applied value, (4) realized value, and (5) transformative value. The framework argues that for value creation to work for each part of the process, the LA manager needs to state aspirations and what they want to happen for Part 5 before working on activities for the preceding parts. You start at the end to figure out the beginning. What behavior change do you want to see created by the LA? What indicators will you need to measure the behavior change? What activities will you implement that will be measured by those indicators?

What was interesting about the VCF is its regard for the value-creation story. It is a narrative coming from the participants that shows the values, especially the realized and reframing values, created by the Learning Activity. Value-creation stories are especially important for when the LA manager needs to report to stakeholders (the community, the staff managing the COP, and the funders) of how the COP is doing and why it should continue to be sustained.

What was also stressed and which I thought was necessary to note is that: the story is important in the end because a narrative in general has a more personal and relatable effect on its readers versus numbers and data, however, data still needs to be collected and analyzed throughout the VCF flow to get to the story. You need to know the number of clicks to the page and the number of people who downloaded your toolkit to reach out to them to see what they did with it and what changes have occurred to their program or directly to their beneficiaries because of the toolkit.

In the end, I learned it makes operational sense to clearly state objectives and goals at the very onset of a Learning Activity as much as you can to effectively map out what activities you want to carry out and what indicators you want to measure for those activities. I also learned that measuring both quantitatively and qualitatively makes for a more effective report (or pitch for a next iteration), and that at times, the way you can get to your value creation story or stories is measuring quantitative data first. 

Psychology of Online Communities Course

Posted by hollycollins on 19 Apr 2017

Quick little note, but I saw this morning that FeverBee has launched a course called "The Psychology of Online Communities." You can access the course here and read more about it here. Looks like it will cover a lot about how to get our audiences to participate and creating a valuable experience for them...May be of interest to some of our community!

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