Our Community of Practice
30th September 2022
Our Community of Practice
Hi I’m Mick, Head of Community at CMC. ‘Head of Community’… It has never quite sat right with me, because a community cannot be just one person.
I am genuinely proud of the community we have all built within CMC, and the roots of my interest into communities go back some years. I first started to do some reading and research on Communities back in 2015, as I was asked to look into different types of communities both from a work and social perspective.
This threw up some interesting reading, to name a few – Peter Block (Community: The Structure of Belonging), Richard Millington (Buzzing Communities: How to Build Bigger, Better, and More Active Online Communities) and Etienne Wenger (Cultivating Communities of Practice). These were all put forward to me as a good source of reading by Luc Gallopin, who gave me some of his time to discuss communities, something he has a real passion for.
Another person I researched was Emily Weber (Building Successful Communities of Practice). She had a very useful model that gives a great guide rail on how to get a self-sustaining community in place. All of this material looks at communities from a slightly different perspective, be that social, online or communities of interest and practice.
For me, there are some common areas throughout that seem vital for a successful community.
- You can’t force a community on people.
- They can take a long time to grow and sustain – stick with it.
- They grow organically.
- It must be meaningful and worthwhile. people are giving their time and energy.
- A core group of people are required so that it flourishes.
- Be prepared for it to fail, sometimes it’s just the wrong sort of community.
- Be as open and transparent as possible.
- A thriving community is a great place to be and belong.
That’s not an exhaustive list but it’s a start, and if you get time, do read some or all of the materials above. Time researching this stuff is well spent if you are serious about building a decent community.
Within CMC, we have managed to attract some wonderful external guest speakers, such as Dave Snowden, Joseph Pelrine, Zuzi Hajickova, Marcus Gee, Emma Taylor, Adam Dobby and Steve Eaton to name a few. When you combine that with the contributions from our partners, who are so willing to share their knowledge and experiences with the rest of the company, I think we are on a good path community wise.
I sometimes look at all the communities I am a part of outside of work and contemplate why giving ourselves to those communities seems easier than in a work setting. I think part of that is because these communities are our passion, what really intrinsically motivates us, what we live for. I look at the varying communities I have been or am part of now. These range from beekeeping, cycling, Ironman, allotment, Cynefin, online and social communities. How do we harness that engagement within our companies?
So, our community at CMC continues to grow. The demand to bring knowledge, information and people together outstrips the time that we have available, but we are always looking at new and innovative ways to improve. Yes, the community is my passion, but I am not the Head of Community – we all are. As I said at our last quarterly partner meeting, the thing I am most pleased with is that if you took me out of the system, the community would self-sustain. That makes me very proud, and certainly brings me as much fulfilment as any of the other communities outside of work do. Now that’s worth smiling about!