“It’s all about people. And communication.” We get that intellectually, don’t we. But it takes us quite a while to really understand what it means. Actually, we we need to work on it all the time.
My role as a CoP facilitator is to create an environment in which people can be successful. An environment where they can come up with their ideas and act as cultural innovators.
Creating such an open and inviting culture takes a lot of time and effort that can hardly be measured. It is built on trust and mutual respect. Peers respect each other and what they do, they trust each other and need to be given an authentic voice. And that does clearly not happen overnight.
A bit like friendship
It is a bit like friendship. Usually, building a CoP means that you listen more than you talk. What makes another person tick? What is she good at and why? Why does she think she is good at it? How can I tell what she really thinks and feels? What irritates this person? Is she a good team player? How does this person interact with her peers – is she going to share? What happens if she does not agree with the others - does she walk away or will she deal with the issue?
A lot of people pay a lot of attention to technology and hard facts, no matter what discipline they are in. However, isn’t it the softer side that will cause the trouble if we do not pay enough attention to it? Look at teams, units, departments, whole organisations. Soft skills – authentic communication, trustworthiness and general people skills – are probably the key determinant of whether they will be successful in the long run.