keeping communities of practice alive

This week I find myself involved with and or facilitating four communities of practice (CoP) , two new and getting started like the Leeds Sustainability Forum and Green Drinks Lancashire ( which after the second ‘gathering’ is becoming a useful green business network) one well established like the BAE FM CoP, and the Constructing Excellence Collaborative Champions Group which is looking to move into a web 2.0 environment for communication and collaboration. And of course regular participation in the be2camp and twittering communities.

In preparation for the four CoP’s I dug out a paper from Harvard Business School that I had referred to back in 2005 when starting the FM CoP , Seven Principles for Cultivating Communities of Practice that describes and discusses approaches to evoke a community’s ‘aliveness’, to bring out its own internal direction, character, and energy:

  1. Design for evolution – Remember communities are dynamic; changes can create new demands or reshape the community; “‘Alive’ communities reflect on and redesign elements of themselves throughout their existence.”
  2. Open a dialogue between inside and outside perspectives – effective community design is “built on the collective experience of community members” and “brings information from outside the community into the dialogue about what the community could achieve.”
  3. Invite different levels of participation – Three main levels of community participation: a core group engaged in regular, intensive activities (usually 10-15% of the group); the active group (another 15-20%); and peripheral members, who rarely participate.
  4. Develop both public and private community spaces – “orchestrate activities in both public and private spaces that use the strength of individual relationships to enrich events and use events to strengthen individual relationships.”
  5. Focus on value – “Rather than attempting to determine their expected value in advance, communities need to create events, activities, and relationships that help their potential value emerge and enable them to discover new ways to harvest it.”
  6. Combine familiarity and excitement – “combine both familiar and exciting events so community members can develop the relationships they need to be well connected as well as generate the excitement they need to be fully engaged.”
  7. Create a rhythm for the community – Vibrant communities have a rhythm, a tempo, ideally somewhere between breathless and sluggish. “There is no right beat for all communities, and the beat is likely to change as the community evolves.”

(I should note a word of thanks to Paul at ExtranetEvolution who also blogged on this earlier)

building codes wanted for better future

Received the following from Architecture for Humanity …. a great opportunity to share knowledge and skills collaboratively on line for the greater good.

We love to build. Therefore we are obsessed with global and local building codes. A few years ago, 1760 BC to be exact, the Code of Hammurabi was the first set of written codes with a focus on the built environment. Luckily for architects, builders (and their sons) building codes have evolved. But smarter, more sustainable building is needed more than ever.

Know an interesting building code, send it our way. If you love building, get involved. We’ve got plenty of design opportunities this month for people with a range of experience all over the world. Be forewarned: These are green collar jobs without the collar.

There are plenty of other ways express your support for the right to shelter. In fact we’ve created a handy-dandy cheatsheet to help you get started.

does the built environment ‘get’ the web?

CEO’s do not ‘get’ the web, according to the last of four articles in today’s Telegraph that reviewed Steve Tappin and Andrew Cave’s book The Secrets of CEOs and looked at the emerging web3.0 and its impact on business.

Web3.0 will have a profound impact on building designs and the way we use buildings, through for example the use of cloud computing that will remove the need for server space and the required power and cooling energy. It will also impact on office space layout as network access becomes unchained from the desk and floor box.

But in the built environment the biggest impact may well be on collaboration that changes relationships, supply and value chains beyond recognition …

Web 2.0 has been focused on social communities, on individual relationships; things not focused on the office. … Web 3.0 will be about more interaction between customers and vendors and competitors, on making life better for the customer.- provide better collaboration on business problems.

And of course more predictions on virtual worlds, and second life…

Forecasters Gartner are predicting that by the end of 2011, 80pc of active internet users and Fortune 500 enterprises will have a “second life”,

with no where to hide problems, mistakes or greenwash …

Reputational damage in the Web 3.0 environment will be swift for companies that are caught out, because of the speed with which information can spread around the world.

So I guess an equally important question is how well does  the built environment ‘get’ the web?

be2camp in London on the 10th October, may well be seen as the start of awareness for many in the built environment to get to grips with and better understand some of the emerging web2.0 and web3.0 applications.

Post note – just as I finished this item I received a tweet (Twitter) from Krishna De in Ireland with a link to her blog article on the state of web use among SME’s: Organise, Activate And Influence Social Activism Through Social Media relating to a recent study released by O2 and TNS MRBI

  • SMS messaging for business communications, increasing from 29% four years ago to almost half (49%) today.
  • almost half of SME owner managers are unaware of what a blog is – and that just over one in 16 (6%) SME respondents has started a business blog while 5% have a personal blog.

be2camp goes live

BE2Camp, 10 October, London

be2camp

Web 2.0 meets the UK construction industry at a novel new event,

BE2camp, to be held on Friday 10 October at the Building Centre in London.

Having been part of the (international) planning team behind this event, I am delighted that we now have some details confirmed. If you fancy becoming part of the event, whether as a sponsor, a speaker or simply a participant (whether in person or virtually), please join in.

You can also follow developments on twitter by following @be2camp

There will be more here and on the site as the event shapes up. The other members of the planning team have blogs which will I am sure carry be2camp news as well:

EvolutionExtranet (London) Paul Wilkinson

Public Works Blog (Illonois) Pam Broviak

I have no opinions (Sydney) Jodie Miners

latest Grid Works issued

The latest issue of Grid Works has been issued and is available for download from here or from vendors on the Public Works area within Second Life.

Once again CivilE Writer (editor) has pulled together an excellent journal that illustrates how second life and other virtual worlds can be used to improve the real world built environment.

In this issue:

  • Conference in a sewer.
  • Using Second Life for architectural design and planning
  • Built Environment Tour to introduce you to Second Life
  • Job Seeking in the Virtual World
  • Website reviews of the UK FixMyStreet and FillThatHole from mysociety.org

The next edition of Grid Works will feature colleges and universities in Second Life offering engineering and related science programs in real life and/or Second Life. If you know of a school that should be included in this issue, let us know by e-mailing the following information:

•Name and real life location of school
•Location of school in Second Life
•Second Life contact information for school

(I guess I should declare an interest as contributing editor through my second life avatar Brand Woodin)

Grid Works is published quarterly for $L0 per year in Second Life.

on be excellent

Around 10 or so years ago I was part of a BE (now constructing excellence) development group which produced the Be Excellent document and tool.

The premise was to increase the awareness of constructions relationship within facilities management and excellence through collaboration by mean of a self, or facilitated assessment tool.

What is Be Excellent?
Be Excellent is a simple but rigorous examination of business practice for all disciplines within the construction industry using the EFQM Business Excellence Model as the platform and take on board the important criteria for Collaborative Working, Supply Chain Management and the “design through to operational requirements” of Facilities Management.
If answered honestly and thoroughly, Be Excellent will identify those areas which an organisation needs to concentrate on to improve performance. Whether the organisation decides to make these a priority is a question of where each sits within their overall strategic plan.

During these last two weeks I have support a number of organisations with Be Excellent, so, with ‘excellence’ being on my mind,  I share my thoughts here.

I continue to use this approach as a first step analysis, helping groups or organisations understand where to put improvement energies and efforts.  It works best as a consensus approach, with a number of assessments done across the width and depth of the organisation, providing an unique and revealing assessment of approaches, deployment and results.  An assessment I refer to as a peoples view of the organisation, which is often at odds with a purely management view.

And here is a main difference between this consensus approach and the top down ISO 9001 improvement or quality models.  People want to be involved, or at least have a voice in shaping improvements, not to be forced into improvements via independent audit non conformance’s.

EFQM ( European Framework for Quality Management) arose out of the 1980/90’s TQM (Total Quality Management) ideas.  The UK construction sector at that time flirted with TQM but never really made the initiative ‘stick’, as it was just that an initiative with a shelf life, and not sustained. Indeed one of the factors that moved me away from employment with large contracting was the lack of ‘stickability’ on improvement, flitting across what was in vogue or required by any client at any one time. It was, and still remains, an add-on to business.

And yet the orginal philosophy and premise of EFQM remains strong and sound, providing an holistic view of any organisation, and in particular the connectivity between functions, approaches and processes, often revealing the weaknesses in the typical siloed organisation.  For example EFQM and Be Excellent force you to address questions such as:

  • How are you strategies, objectives and policies founded on customer intelligence and requirements, now and into the future?
  • How do you manage, recruit and develop people in line with your vision and strategies, How does leadership act as a role model?
  • How do you procure resources to deliver your strategies, are finances, knowledge and information aligned to your strategies, or are they a barrier, and
  • Do processes really translate your vision, objectives and strategies into operations or are they there to satisfy some other ‘tick’ box?

There is an scoring mechanism alongside Be Excellent , but this serves as a device to prioritise actions, and it is the action planning that is the main outcome. From these action plans facilitated workshops can drill down to the real root of issues, using for example the Toyota Five Whys approach, a main ingredient of lean construction or six sigma. Its is amazing where you get to on asking the fifth why, for example a recent exercise identified an issue of poor recognition for good work, 5 whys drilled it down further as:

  • We don’t hear about good things
  • We don’t tell people about success’s
  • We don’t like to blow our own trumpets
  • We look for wrongs not rights in reviews
  • Our lessons learnt exercises focus on negatives and not positives

A programme was then put into place to review the lessons learnt process, to capture good learning points so they can be repeated, in addition to problems to avoid.

Over the years the trends from Be Excellent have become very clear:

  • we are good at approaches, new initiatives, new management systems, achieving ISO standards and other on the wall certificates.
  • we are ok, but not so good at deployment, that is deployment of the approach is not sustained, either over time, or across an organisation, and often suffers at the whim of changing management.
  • we are poor at learning, at analysing results for trends causes, and comparisons, and then on closing the loop to improve.

Sadly, this reflects the view of Deming back in the 1950’s, that we do not close the Plan Do Check Act loop, even less so see this as a spiral, with the Act taking us to a better, more informed Plan position for the next project or time period.  Be Excellent provides the peoples view to kick start and to sustain the improvement cycle.

A copy of  Be Excellent can be downloaded from here and you if would like to discuss this topic in more detail contact us here.

cities and intention and collaboration and community

It’s actually about people making things together. What’s going to come out of this is cities and intention and collaboration and community, because the capability this thing provides is mysterious in the degree to which is allows people to do things together.

This quote from Philip Rosedale Linden was the turning point in Second Life’s beginnings.

I had heard this before but was reminded from the Really blog in their story on I am in your web browser. – a great title for a blog!

By the way did you know there are avatars virtually present on your websites, your homepages, as you view them, chatting amongst themselves?)  I can see a couple of weblins below – weird and uncanny but a glimpse of Web3.0 perhaps?  If you happen across a weblin called Snape do say hello