Who wants to be the next network member, actor, leader?

Who wants to be the next leader? (Credits - Gin_Soak)

Who wants to be the next leader? (Credits – Gin_Soak)

Earlier this year I blogged about the learning and monitoring work that a few KM4Dev members and I were going to conduct around our favourite community of practice… We came up with a framework that looks at a number of issues that might seem important in a community of practice.

The baseline survey report has just been released about a week ago. It contains consolidated answers to the 17 questions we had asked KM4Dev members to answer. A wonderfully rich set of insights touching upon aspirations, technology stewardship, governance, empowerment, learning, consolidation of insights and action…

Next to this comes this wonderful presentation from wonderful, inspiring maverick friend Nancy White:

And finally comes a paper by IDS in the UK “Behind the scene at a climate change knowledge sharing network“. The paper deals with the participation and governance arrangements of AfricaAdapt.

And here comes the question: How can communities of practice, networks, alliances around us contribute to ‘kick us in the butt’ to take charge and move forward?

What is common to the KM4Dev baseline survey, Nancy White’s presentation and the AfricaAdapt review? People are sometimes overwhelmed by the communities and networks they belong to, because they have not necessarily assessed what it is they hope to gain from them, what they use it for and to what extent they can play a more active role etc.

The challenge from inside, as an active community/network participant or even facilitator of such a community/network, is all the more daunting, and it shows in KM4Dev as we are really struggling to get more people to take charge and contribute to keep making this community the (relative) success it has been to date.

Some questions to guide us there – or perhaps to guide us into deeper confusion:

  • How to let people realize that taking charge might actually be transformational for the longer run (I always think about that when you find always the same volunteers showing their hands) – like the epiphany I had with KM4Dev for instance?
  • Is there a point (and if so, possible guidance) to help members think about what might amplify their community/network experience (the focus on discernment, creative destruction and relevant conversations that Nancy is talking about)?
  • What is the threshold that members have to cross towards becoming ‘active members’ and ‘active leaders’ in such communities – even though there is no problem with empowered listening either!
  • How to make the network of networks visible in such a way that contributions and conversations in one space end up strengthening an entire knowledge ecosystem (or that we can understand that phenomenon better)?
  • What kind of ‘governance’ principles might be helpful to maximise the respective contribution of any individual network or community of practice to increase the weaving across networks and leadership emergence within the network?

Those are some of the questions that I am starting to ask myself and hope we will partly unravel as part of the KM4Dev Learning and Monitoring working group. And somewhere in between, I hope Nancy will somehow be one of my Northern Stars to navigate between the heaven and the hell of networked conversations and engagements…

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