Communities of practice: Straight from the open source

Every solution starts with sharing a problem. At Red Hat, when we talk about “open source,” we’re talking about a proven way of collaborating to create technology. The freedom to see the code, to learn from it, to ask questions and offer improvements. This is the open source way. However, bringing together people in your organization to collaborate is often easier said than done.

At Red Hat, we’ve created “Communities of Practice” (CoP) to help our own people collaborate, especially on new and emerging technologies–including automation.

 

What is a CoP?

At its root, a community of practice is a collection of individuals, whether it be consultants, solution architects, or members of business units coming together to share ideas, content, experiences, questions, and best practices around a particular topic.

 

How do you get started?

 

  • Bring people together: Not just virtually. When people come together in person, they not only share ideas, but make them actionable.
  • Develop timelines: Make a very clear timeline as to when this incubation period will begin and end and the goals you’ll accomplish during that time.
  • Set success criteria: In the beginning, define what success looks like for your community of practice.
  • Content, content, content: You must have content to attract members, right? Document your content and create artifacts that people can learn from.

 

 

How do you get people to participate?

 

  • Cast a wide net for launch: Promote it via multiple avenues, not just via email. Share it on team calls, mobile apps, meeting invites, etc.
  • Lurk, consume, contribute: This is a natural progression of behaviors for new members to a CoP. Keep an eye out for these behaviors in your new members and encourage them to progress to where they feel comfortable to contribute. If you leverage a CoP as an avenue for mentoring and internal enablement, you will also find that adoption will be a lot quicker
  • Invite someone important: Inviting someone important that’s part of your organization to speak at your launch meeting will also just be an additional way to attract individuals to your CoP.

 

 

How do you grow the community?

You’ll need all levels of your management to buy in to the fact that you’re trying to stand up this community of practice. Be persistent, creative, patient, and resilient.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can get a jump start at this open source way of working, join myself along with Vikram Nayaran and Phyllis Westerman at Red Hat Summit where we’ll discuss 4 ways to jump start an open source & agile automation culture.

 

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