Asking the wrong questions about colaboration

Reading David Wilcox’s blog this morning entitled ‘Asking the wrong questions about collaboration’. The following question resonated
with me:-

"Effective collaboration requires trust, relationships and
understanding that take time to develop. Why are so many on-line systems
still developed on the basis of "build it and they will come and work
together" … ending up with empty Forums and a lot of money wasted?

I was determined to avoid this problem when I set up the IDeA
by de-emphasising the
technology and promoting the fact that there was a central team of
people who were there to support project and programme managers in
setting up their communities of practice. This extended to facilitating
face-to-face launch events which were used to build trust and introduce
users to the social media tools they could use. Given this now has over 2000 members and more than 60 CoPs working across local government, I think the approach was reasonably successful.

This is the model I’m also going to use for the contract I’m working
on for the DfES, where a network of CoP’s will be established across
the Further Education Sector as part of a business change management process. The first priority is recruiting community
managers who will be out there meeting with various stakeholder groups (e.g. LSC, LLUK, OfSTED, MIAP, QIA and many others) and
encouraging greater collaboration within and across these groups as a precursor to developing a purpose-design on-line community (social media) environment. I’ve never believed in just providing the technology and waiting for people to use it.

Thus, I think my approach is about as far as you can get from what they’ve done with GovXchange!


  1. David Wilcox said:

    Steve – thanks for the mention … and description of how to do it right! I was recently faced with the challenge of helping teachers think about how Web 2.0 tools could be brought into their e-learning programme. Instead of just suggesting they needed one of the social networking/learning platforms, we ran a game to envision what might be appropriate, as you can see here
    I wonder if a Communities of Practice game could play a part in the designing process

    May 28, 2007
  2. Steve Dale said:

    David – some really good ideas here (ref your link). Will look at this game in more detail to see if I can use it during the CoP design process as you suggest. Many thanks for the link. (Also, hope we can meet up soon – sounds like we’re working on similar things).

    May 28, 2007

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