Friday, 23 March 2018

The Importance of Building a Good Community of Practice

Within every organisation i think we can all agree that 'collaboration' is a major factor to the success of any project or initiative.

As organisations grow, new teams are created and existing teams fragment from each other, this is natural and i doubt that will change.

So what impact does that have to an organisation?

  • Stress in the work place? 
  • Unmet expectations? 
  • Relationship breakdown? 
  • Low Morale? 
  • Dissatisfied Clients?

Collateral damage is inevitable.

When clients are dissatisfied, they often take their business elsewhere, which costs your company money. Poor communication can lead to high employee turnover, which creates a cost of hiring and training for new positions. At the least, with lower productivity and an unclear sense of purpose, poor communication causes employers to pay for work hours that are not efficiently spent, costing money, affecting efficiency, and keeping employees from reaching their true potential.

Its sometimes difficult to work on projects where you/your team(s) are not responsible for the entire big picture, this is the situation i am currently in.

There are around 70/80 product teams across 7 delivery centres working on our super huge platform, each team responsible for a very small part of that overall picture.

Without cross team collaboration we are setting ourselves up for a huge failure, Right?

Across the centres we use Slack with great anger... many many channels all serving a different purpose. Useful yes, but this shouldn't be the only form of communication.

I am a great believer in that building a good community for testers but not exclusively for testers is not only a a good thing, but the right thing to do to close the gaps created as an organisation grows. A community of practice is a group of people (Multi-discipline) with a common interest, a common goal of improvement and sharing ideas and should be lead but the whole community not one individual.

Earlier this year in the delivery centre that i am located i kicked this off with a brainstorming session to understand what output people would like from regular sessions/workshops. 

There appeared to be a great appetite for this, we initially agreed a regular meet once a month and all agree that fortnightly would become too onerous and interest would soon dip, as you would agree we need to keep these sessions productive… This of course doesn't mean we have to wait to share useful information, additional sessions can be arranged. the regular meeting is to ensure we keep these going.

The brainstorming session we had raised exactly what i want the sessions to be about:

  • Knowledge/Ideas sharing
  • Pain sharing/Problem solving
  • Self development/Learning from each other
  • Demos/mini talks
  • Proof of Concepts
  • Encouraging/Enhancing best practices
  • Support/Coaching/Mentoring
  • Breaking silos/meeting & working with new people

Id love to hear what others are doing regarding communities, how engaged are your teams? are they productive and providing benefit?

If this is new to your organisation... give it a go! GET TALKING :-)

Emily Webber wrote a great book which is definitely worth a read: http://emilywebber.co.uk/building-successful-communities-of-practice/

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