You know the way it is. There's no community of practice (CoP) for 3 months and then 3 come along in the space of a week. Well, that's been my week oddly enough. Three! In ONE week! I'm not sure exactly how it arrived at that but it's given me cause for some reflection. Here's what I've learned and what I'd like to share. If you're interested there's a good chance there's a CoP for you out there (dates at the end). First the lessons from the week:
Lesson 1 - The WHY? That's the biggy. As Simon Sinek says, "start with the why?" Why do it? What's in it for me? CoP's (crucially not to be confused with the American Police, as happened in one session a few years ago) are something that are hard to define but you know they help when they work. They are simply just a space for like-minded people, with a similar goal or objective, to come together and share and learn from each other. Some of the comments this week were illuminating, e.g. "I never take the time to do this, but I'm glad I did", "It was great just being in a (zoom) room of like-minded people", "It was nice to just reflect on my practice, I don't do that enough", etc
Lesson 2 - It's NOT training This may come initially as a disappointment to some. Everyone is looking for more training, and that's important as well. But CoP's are not training. You may wish, of course, to plan a training element within them, but they are still about that space to connect and reflect. The fact is you can use them for anything, e.g. practicing RP skills, bringing a problem for a problem solving circle, whatever you can imagine. The members decide. They are made by the people, for the people and with the people. This also fits the RP ethos (work WITH). Some of this week's ones were a little "uncertain" at times being new and all that. But that's ok. We will work it out - together. Which brings me to lesson no.3
Lesson 3 - Co-Create For the record I was a participant in one, and ran two of the three community of practices this week. I won't lie, it's a nice feeling to run a training or a CoP, especially when they go well. A lovely ego "hit". But that's not true RP, and it's a lot of pressure on a bad day. Better, in that regard to co-create, to invite others to join in the design and running of the CoP's (full disclosure this learning is a result of my time with you Jude, thanks). I've been putting that message of co-creation out already and do so again now. Why? Well, many heads are better than one. How can one person know what everyone needs? Do WITH, not TO or FOR. Empower people. Recruit support for yourself. There are so many benefits. None of us have all the pieces of the puzzle but, together, we absolutely do.
Lesson 4 - Start your Own I have another confession. Well, it's not much of a confession as I already told most participants this week. The first CoP I attended was for RP trainers, trained through CDI Tallaght. It was great fun (partly because someone else was facilitating, but also for the mix of people). In fact, it was so good I kind of robbed (em, I mean borrowed) the format for the other two. Sorry Claire, I know you won't mind. But it got me thinking. Here I am benefiting from others. Then there's people benefitting (hopefully) from mine. Why now pass it on again, i.e. get other people to go back to their work and set up their own? They are not rocket science after all. So my mission this year is to help spawn a new CoP (or two) for a school or youth organisation, by getting people to co-create with me and then they can start their own. Let's see how it goes.
If you are wondering when and where all these CoP's are happening, here's the spring list. Note: I will be asking for people to chip in with helping to create agendas and formats, but the voluntary ethos of RP still remains. By the way, feel free to share these dates with anyone you know.
See you there sometime and, please, let me know some thoughts/ideas/suggestions you have in advance, or if you'd like to be part of co-facilitating with me (you can do as much or as little as you like).