Encourage Ongoing Participation

Evolve a CoP

As your CoP matures, it will continue to need attention as it refines its focus and expands its priorities. New members may quickly become active, and veteran members may transition to peripheral roles or completely out of the community. While growth often leads to tremendous opportunities, it must be managed in order to translate these opportunities into innovation.1

Several activities to prepare for during this phase include:

  • Involving experts in the activities of the community
  • Continuing to recruit new members while not losing focus on the goals of the community
  • Transitioning from sharing knowledge to developing a body of knowledge

A maturing community may greatly benefit from the contributions of experts, and efforts should be made to engage experts and utilize their knowledge. Experts can become more fully engaged by being asked to respond to the following questions:

  • What are your thoughts on this matter?
  • How would you approach this?
  • Do you think this is the correct way to proceed?
  • What has your past experience shown you on this topic?
  • How do you think this project can proceed most effectively?

You should find a balance between welcoming new members and focusing on established issues or cutting-edge topics and expert interactions. It is important to recognize that growth can multiply relationships and make the community more satisfying and robust. New members offer new perspectives and different life and work experiences.1

At this stage of development, you have determined your community’s value and are clarifying its focus and further defining its role in the field. Be aware that boundaries may begin to shift and communities may appropriately begin to interface with other CoPs or outside groups related to the domain. Movement from sharing information to developing a body of knowledge will increase the number and types of demands on the members of the community.1

In creating this body of knowledge, it is important for community members to:

  • Strive for quality at the individual level.
  • Take pride in and responsibility for the work that they produce.
  • Use defined and disciplined modifiable processes to produce high-quality work on planned schedules.

As the community evolves, core members must continue to monitor the progress of the CoP and not allow it to stagnate or lose sight of its purpose.