Diversity and quantity of data and information are overwhelming, moreover they are more available than ever mostly through internet. However, information is not knowledge, because the latter implies a direct experience of information, therefore its availability by itself is not enough to develop knowledge. Furthermore, knowledge is necessary but not enough to build new capabilities since experience’s outcomes success will determine if the new skills are there or not. In this context, most educational institutions and organizations are developing “learning by doing” approaches instead of traditional “learning before doing”. While the latter required trainer, trainees and training as starting point, the former is driven by sharing, experiencing and collaborating. Moreover, within the “learning by doing” framework there is no teacher, nobody owns knowledge and it is not delivered. On the contrary, knowledge is shared through experiences which help other people interested in learning not start from the scratch with their own experience. Then based on experiences and through collaboration, new knowledge can be built which will benefit both former experienced and unexperienced people. What is more, this is people’s natural way of learning through which most important things in life are learnt, such as nurture and take care of themselves as well as walk and talk. Communities of Practice might provide the right ecosystem to drive learning by doing in both educational institutions and global companies.

Experiences’ sharing with customer centric approach

First and foremost, experienced people will have the role of contributors within the Community of Practice and they are the ones who are going to present knowledge through their own experience. Therefore, it is important to adopt a customer centric approach because is not about “telling my story” but thinking about what aspects of my story might be interesting and helpful for the other Community members. On the other hand, it is important to make clear that what is being shared is someone’s experience and not the “truth” about any particular subject. Hence, instead of giving recommendations or advises, it is best share pros and cons of experiences to help other people to decide whether it is worthwhile to have their own. Of course, a personal experience will be always subjective, nonetheless there are degrees of subjectivity and although the experience is presented from someone’s point of view, it would be more helpful to present facts instead of giving an opinion. Furthermore, to share an experience with a customer centric approach will help contributors to not only recap but also detach from experience which can be helpful to wrap up and take best from what have lived to move forward and be opened to new ones.

Others’ experiences in learning by doing

In contrast, people who are looking forward to having new experiences will be users at the Community of Practice who will be receiving experiences from other people as a gift to make better decisions or have enhance own ones. Although to have other people’s experiences is great to avoid starting from the scratch, experienced people’s point of view might condition fresh starters decision to do something or just avoid trying. Firstly, it is essential to know contributors’ profile, which are they drives (why) and skills (how), to provide shared experiences with a decision context. If the new starter shares same motivations and capabilities than the contributor, the shared experience provides a valid decision context to decide “what” to do. In this case, the contributor might be a role model because is someone alike in values and skills, therefore it would be wise to pursue or avoid experiences by taking into consideration his or her point of view. However, if the motivations and capabilities of the contributor are completely different it would be worthwhile to try out the experience with a different purpose or in and alternative way. In any case, other people’s experiences are always useful not to learn from them but to improve people’s own learning experience.

Collaborate to build new knowledge

On one side, the Community of Practice will have experienced people who want to share their knowledge and experience with a customer centric approach. On the other side, will be unexperienced people interest in getting that knowledge and having alike experiences who based on contributors’ profile as well as experiences’ pros and cons will decide not only whether to do it or not, but also why and which is best way of doing. However, the Community of Practice is not complete until contributors and users collaborate to build new knowledge. Moreover, it can be seen even within a class or training room, that only when students or trainees ask questions teachers or trainers, things start to happen because until then learning was a transactional process in which knowledge was delivered and passively received. Therefore, the Community of Practice requires active users who pursue knowledge not only through experiences but also by asking interesting questions which helps contributors think “out of the box” and together they build new knowledge. In summary, Communities of Practice allow a transformational learning process will not only benefit users but contributors as well who can find new meanings for their experiences as well as be driven to have new ones based on collaborative knowledge and continuous learning.

Thanks for Reading.

Marcelo Sauro is an internationally experienced performance and improvement senior manager. He holds an Executive MBA and Master of Science degrees and has helped people and organizations to transform themselves. Not only he led E2E transformations in Global Business Services, R&D, Supply Chain and Finance organizations at all levels within the LATAM and EMEA Regions, but he is also experienced in several industries including Life Science, Healthcare, Insurance, Fintech, Technology, Telecoms, FMCG, Chemicals, Automotive, Energy and Mining. Since 2015, he has been researching and developing content in agile and resilience through Value Ways, while working under contract for customers such as MetLife, Novartis, Vertiv (Emerson NP) and Experian among others. Previously, he worked for more than 7 years as Master Black Belt for a LATAM-based consulting group, which had ASQ, Qualtec and Oriel as business partners. Prior to that, he worked for more than 10 years at BASF and GSK in positions of growing responsibility in the area of Operational Excellence. Marcelo is currently working at Ferring's “International PharmaScience Center” (IPC) for the Global R&D organization in Copenhagen. To find out more please visit www.value-ways.com.

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