Friday, July 20, 2007

Great resource on communities of practice in a development context!

Dorine had a blogpost on their work on communities of practice in the development sector. I planned to reblog it, but didn't find the time, till here in Ghana (as the saying goes, in Europe we have clocks, but here we have time). Dorine participated in the online community of practice workshop and did a project with Bill Williams and Patricia Mantey. They made their small project quite big, as it resulted in a large and resourceful document with all kind of references that you can find online here. They had 5 main topics:
1. Life after funding
2. Gaps in technology
3. Differences in communities
4. Multiple cultures and languages
5. Donor pressure and expectations

They looked for cases and interviewed people. I was amongst the people they interviewed by mail, not know that these answers would be posted integrally in the report (I assumed they'd use it to inform their own opinion and write something condenses). It felt very ackward to be quoted as an 'expert' on all these big questions I don't really have an answer to, and then amongst the responses of other experts, sometimes completely contradicting. Would have been more fun to have an exchange! The biggest difference in opinion as I recall was my opinion that funding can be helpful (but tricky ofcourse) compared to Ueli's answers which go into the direction of banning funding for effective communities of practice. (I'm lazy to search for quotes, but if it's interesting to you, you can find it in the document). They are hopefully going to organize on online exchange still (the intention is there at least).

What I personally learned from it, is that I can see the parallel between funders and communities of practice and the manager's paradox. Both funders and managers should refrain from too much trying to control the domain discussions, but engaging in it in the right way can be energizing.

1 comment:

Dorine Ruter said...

Hi Joitske, thanks for mentioning our project on your blog.

About a proposed online discussion: We haven't figured out how an online discussion should best take place (e.g. using an existing mailing list or a forum/weblog). What we have decided is that a first discussion is planned for the first weeks of September. Everyone (expert and people-that-don't-think-they're-expert) is welcome to join that conversation.

We'll probably pick part of the project (e.g. 1 of the 5 topics) and focus on that to keep it manageable.

We created a weblog in advance, just to have a location where more info will be published and people can find us / comment on the project, etcetera. Currently only the report is there, but all comments are welcome. The address is:


(By the way I DO think your an expert just as much as Ueli and the others! And of course we were happy that you took time for revising your comments a bit for the public eye, after people's reactions made clear we should share the project results more widely. Thanks again!)