In our last post, we shared about what is a corporate learning community of practice, the different types of community of practice and how to establish them. In this 2nd post, we are going to build on the list we read online about how to create a corporate learning community of practice. If the spontaneous type of corporate learning communities of practice is not what you are looking at and you wish to create a more structured corporate learning community of practice, do read on for the top 10 tips to create a corporate learning community of practice.
Top 10 Tips to Create a Corporate Learning Community of Practice
1. Using SMART To Set Clear Objectives.
In order for any quality teaching/coaching/mentoring to take place, it is always important to have a clear vision of the goals and objectives of the learning outcomes. Hence, before creating the corporate learning community of practice, it is critical to first identify the reason why such a learning community should be created and what are the desired learning outcomes. Is the community supposed to fine tune certain work processes? Is it created to improve the performance of a certain department or work flow? The objectives can be set using SMART, a mnemonic acronym, as a guide.
S: Specific–Be specific when setting the objectives
M: Measurable–The objectives should be quantifiable or measurable to indicate progress or success.
A: Achievable–Ensure that the objectives are attainable by being realistic about time factors, capacity of resources and knowledge of members.
R: Realistic– Be realistic when trying to set the objectives. Review the resources you have and the challenges that might be faced
T: Time-related–Indicate a specific timeline to track progress
2. Establish A Corporate Learning Community Of Practice Plan Or Infrastructure.
Unless it is a spontaneous type of corporate learning communities, there should be a specific plan or infrastructure of where and when meetings will be held, how the communication between members will take place as well as the strategies the group might be looking at. This provides the members a clear picture of how the community of practice will function and the expectations of them in that community.
3. Be Aware of The Experience And Knowledge Each Member Brings To The Table.
Although members of the corporate learning community of practice need not be experts in their fields, it is crucial to understand what each of the member can contribute to the group before the formation of the community. Ideally, a corporate learning community of practice should consist of a diverse group of individuals, each being able to provide different types of knowledge or experience to the group. If it is a company wide learning community, it will be important to involve at least one personnel from every department. If it is a learning community targeting to improve work processes in a department, the community should include a diverse mix of employees with varying years of experience and skill sets.
4. Set The Tone Right During The First Meeting.
The first meeting, or the introductory meeting, is important to set the tone right. There should be time allocated for members to meet one another and network, as well as time for them to begin discussing the goals and objectives. This will facilitate their progress and increase their effectiveness as part of the learning community and allow them to be comfortable to share knowledge and expertise.
5. Appoint A Moderator Or A Facilitator
There should always be a appointed moderator or facilitator in any learning community of practice . This individual will help facilitate the sharing of knowledge, guide discussions during meetings ensure that the groups are on task, monitoring progress and success and even serve as a liaison between the community and the organization. This individual should be someone who is knowledgeable in the topics that will be addressed by the community and is someone members of the community respect and can communicate easily with.
6. Regular Meetings
Another key determining factor of whether a corporate learning community is successful or not is whether the community holds regular meetings. The meetings serve as a platform for sharing and collaboration to take place as well as for immediate feedback to be given. If the learning communities do not meet regularly, members may not have the chance to provide direct input or to communicate.
7. Making Use Of Social Media Platforms and Forums
Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Evernote as well as online forums are important tools for sharing, communication and collaboration amongst group members. Resources and knowledge can be shared easily using these platforms. When members share using these platforms, face to face meetings can be more focused on purely providing feedback or direct input.
8. Project Management Software Tools Can Serve As Virtual Headquarters
Project management software tools such as Basecamp, Zoho and Teamwork can help keep the community well organised and focused on task. These tools normally allow communities to share documents, assign tasks, keep track of deadlines with a community calender and serve very well as a virtual base camp for the learning community.
9. Organization’s Support
Any corporate learning community of practice should receive support from the organization in order for it to sustain and be successful. These communities might need access to resources, monetary support, or even tools to achieve the targets and objectives. In the long run, the stronger the support from the organization, the better the chances of the community of practice achieving the objectives.
10. Garner Feedback From Employees To Identify Issues and Areas Of Improvement
We can have many great ideas about what direction the communities of practice should be and what are the issues employees face, but realistically speaking, employees on the ground know best the issues or the weakness that the corporate learning community of practice should focus on. Hence it is important to gather feedback from the employees to know which are the areas to channel resources to. It will help the community to develop and plan their progress.
If you have missed out on our first post on What is a Corporate Learning Community of Practice, do click on this link to read about it.
In our next post, we will be sharing on “The Benefits of Creating the Communities of Practice”, and “How ELearning and Mobile Learning Can Support It”. If you have any tips to add on to our list, feel free to have a discussion with us by leaving your comments below!