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Overcoming The ‘Too Busy To Participate’ Problem in CoPs

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

Founder of FeverBee

About half of our clients manage communities of practice (CoPs).

The most common problem facing those involved in communities of practice is busyness. Their target audience is too busy to participate in the community, or so they claim.

This is almost never true. In almost every sector you can find an example of a successful community. It can be doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers. You will find successful communities.

The challenge is changing the prospect of the community. If they community is something they have to do instead of something they want to do, of course they will never have time. In fact, they wil never make the time.

Too often, the community feels like extra work. Too often, it’s presented as extra work “hey, please can you share your best advice about {x}” or “please can you participate in this community, or “please write a column about {x}”.

Some CoP managers listen to their members complaints of being too busy and go too far in the opposite direction. The opposite direction ignores the work required from members. This is also bad. “Just click this link and you’ll get great advice about “x”. If you only stress the benefits members get just from reading, members are only ever going to read. The levels of participation will be minimal.

A happy balance is needed. From the very first contact about the community through to regular participation, there needs to be a stress on something that makes members want to participate.

This might mean appealing to utopian motives; such as creating something bigger than themselves or changing the industry. It might mean appealing to their ego and stressing that this is an exclusive community with invited-members only. It might mean appealing to their social needs, and creating a community where they can talk to and impress their peers.

There is no shortage of basic tactics to persuade people to participate. It’s the strategy and appeal that makes the difference. Everyone makes the time for the things they want to do. The community has to be something they really want to do.

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