TEL 703-711

TEL 703/711 LdC #1

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning meaning, and identity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Step 1

Quote/ideas from the book; applications/instances from your workplace setting Page number
“Learning is…part of our participation in our communities and organizations. The problem is not that we do not know this, but rather that we do not have very systematic ways of talking about this familiar experience” (p. 8). 8
The concept of practice concept includes the explicit and the tacit, the said and unsaid, the represented and assumed – it also includes the language, tools, documents, images, symbols, underlying assumptions, shared world views, subtle cues, tacit conventions. A lot of this stuff goes (or will go) unarticulated, but they are “unmistakable signs of membership in communities of practice and are crucial to the success of their enterprises” (p. 47). 47
“…it is by its very practice – and not by other criteria – that a community establishes what it is to be a competent participant, an outsider, or somewhere in between. In this regard, a community of practice acts as a locally negotiated regime of competence” (p. 137) 137
“…knowing is defined only in the context of specific practices, where it arises out of a combination of a regime of competence and an experience of meaning. Our knowing – even the most unexceptional kind – is always too big, too rich, too ancient, and too connected for us to be the source of it individually. At the same time, our knowing – even of the most elevated kind – is too engaged, too precise, too tailored, too active, and too experiential for it to be just of a generic size. The experience of knowing is no less unique, no less creative, and not less extraordinary for being one of participation. As a matter of fact, on the face of it, it would probably not amount to much otherwise” (p. 141-142). 141 – 142
The concept of practice includes the explicit and the tacit, the said and unsaid, the represented and assumed – it also includes the language, tools, documents, images, symbols, underlying assumptions, shared world views, subtle cues, tacit conventions. A lot of this stuff goes (or will go) unarticulated, but they are “unmistakable signs of membership in communities of practice and are crucial to the success of their enterprises” (p. 47). 47
In our design team’s work, we’ve developed a set of standard practices and norms around how we want our workshops to go. That includes the broad idea of how we want to facilitate (show, don’t tell), the way we want experiential learning to go (What? So what? Now what?), etc.  

 

In our design team’s work, we use specific tools (Google Slides, Slack, etc.) We have particular branding and colors we use that identify who we are – signaling that our identity is multifaceted (MLFTC, ASU, etc.)…

Step 2

I participated in the fishbowl this week, and I enjoyed getting into the discussion. Several points of conversation kept pointing me back to some ideas on page 125-126, where Wenger lists some of the indicators of a CoP. I think this was perhaps a piece that I’d overlooked when thinking about how CoPs might be different from simple/mere groups, and I was glad for the conversation with the squad.

Step 3

For this first leadership challenge, I will work to build a Community of Practice by working to systematize and create broad agreement related to the the tools our team uses, which can be understood as a way to reify a CoP (p. 59).

To implement this challenge, I engaged our team in conversation around Trello and Slack, which are two productivity tools we have been working to habituate within our team, in order to more effectively organize and launch our work. My original idea was to conduct a small survey and short interviews on low-friction and high-friction moments and/or times when they’ve used these tools, but instead I put each of these on our weekly team meeting agendas and reviewed them in conversation. More or less, we decided as a team to keep plugging away at using them, but that some members of the team who already have productivity practices in place may need more support and coaching around synchronizing platforms with the rest of the group.

Step 4

I think to an extent, our behavioral change was supported by CoP theory. In a similar fashion to the claims adjustor example in the book, we all tended to connect and discuss Slack and Trello over the past two weeks, mixing in conversation about work tools with how some members of the team use these tools with their families and to keep their homes organized, which blended into conversation about how we do meal prep and generally manage our home lives. I do think the process of leading the behavioral change around getting our team (6 people) to adopt these platforms has been a challenge for me, and was more difficult than perhaps I expected. At the same time, I’m not convinced that I really did lean in or push others, nor can I be fully satisfied that I led by example or with real conviction. In fact, reifying the tools we use is a struggle for me, precisely because I like to be open and explore ways of working. I tend to get in and fiddle around with platforms and technologies, but I don’t find that I’m at home in many particular platforms other than Outlook or Google Drive.

I do think that if we sustained this, we would develop more systematic ways of being – and of recognizing and learning from and through our ways of being. I believe that our team could grow in personal and professional affinity and integrity around trusting and believing in each other more, and that our communication would be become more efficient. I think Wenger would say that we’re engaged in the two-way interaction of competence and experience, where we’re learning, or transforming our knowing, because as we build a regime of competence that realigns how we operationalize our practices. And in the event that we’ll add new team members in the future, it will surely impact how they’d enter into the community.

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