Discussion Report 19 Natalie Campbell - Setting up and maintaining Community of Practice

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Session Title

Setting up and maintaining Communities of Practice

Name of Convenor

  • Natalie Campbell campbell[at]care.org
  • Gauri Salokhe gauri.salokhe[at]fao.org


  • Meg Mottaz mottaz[at]ilo.org
  • Verele de Vreede vdevreede[at]waste.nl
  • Jane Lennon lennon[at]cfod.org.uk
  • Manuel Flury manuel.flury[at]deza.admin.ch
  • laroo Torfs laroo.torfs[at]atol.be
  • Carla Alcobia carla.alcobia[at]gmail.com
  • Kristoffer Berse krisberse[at]yahoo.com
  • Taline Haytayan thaytayan[at]aidsalliance.org
  • Rutti Goldberger rgolderger[at]ippf.org
  • Prabhu Rajendran prabhu_rajendran[at]yahoo.com
  • ... please add your name if you were here..

Key Discussion Points

Problem/Issue for Peer Assist

Multi-organizational Communities of Practice recently launched in Ethiopia and Malawi. Their focus/practice is on integrated programming HIV/AIDs and Food and Nutrition Security - sharing and documenting best practices that will contribute to improved programing, and advocacy/policy change issues. COPs have met 2 times and are looking for guidance on how best to conduct the COP, how they should operate, what it should look/feel like, understanding the value. So question is, how to best assist and encourage the COPs. They meet once per month, face to face and every quarter have a 2 day workshop around specific themes.

Raised ideas for resolving the issue

  • Try Open Space
  • Have a prep process before the Face to Face meeting - ask key questoins, get them talking before and take it into Face to Face,
  • Cultivate a sense of belonging and ownership, "we"
  • Identify "link" between them: are they solving similar problems? find the common task! what is their "Need"?
  • Start a contest for harvesting best practices
  • Cobuilding the agenda: email, wiki
  • try the "Wall of Passions/ Wall of Knowledge"  : what are they passionate about and what do they think they can contribute to this COP?
  • Use dynamic facilitation methods: look at tools on KM4DEV like: Appreciative INquiry, Future Search, Dare to Share website, do the Fitness Test for members - from Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
  • Get them to talk about their own work
  • If they are not so familiar with COPs, possibly try presenting COP case studies - showcase other COPs as examples, so they can see what it could look like.
  • IMARK Module
  • Get people from the group involved in leading the discussions - this also applies to virtual COPs
  • Facilitation training and dedicated "time"for this activity : www.mynetworks.org
  • Networks - of members, managers, sponsers - interview them to find out what their understanding of networks like these are.
  • use the "Checklist"from Nancy White - before you start creating a COP, ask yourself, purpose, vision, audience, etc to determine if a COP is the right mechanism for your group
  • online facilitation option: Facilitator could interview people, synthesize the response and share with the rest of group
  • Provocation - sometimes having one person insert something provacative gets the discussion going and gets the COP some outside recognition


  • Content/relevance to work or interest
  • Facilitation
  • Key stakeholder involvement
  • Identity of group

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