What is the critical mass for a community of practice? That is the question that struck me when I read Not everything that connects is a network (Hearn and Mendizabal, 2001).
I try to foster a community of practice at work in an area that is important but not core business. The result is a lot of people being involved in the group but not many participating.
Hearn and Mendizabal argue that “networks are indigenous to any situation or environment; they exist before an initiative comes along and will exist after an initiative has closed down” and that:
networks are not panaceas and are not suitable in all situations. The suitability of a network strategy needs to be interrogated carefully before investments are made, particularly as a network could prove more expensive than an alternative strategy.
I find this an interesting perspective and I am possibly in more of a curation role than one of being in a community of practice. Having read Popova’s article on the role of curation, I know that this is an important role as well.
Over time I will attempt different strategies to try and gain critical mass in and reach a fully fledged community of practice.