If you run a community of practice, you need members to initiate discussions. Reddy and Jansen noted four triggers for initiating a discussion. These are:
- They lack domain knowledge. They have a basic question which they want an answer to. Most members will know the answer to this question. The question often begins with “Hi, I’m new here…”. They are looking for the basic community response.
- Complexity of information. This occurs when members have a specific problem that is too complex for a standard response. They are either seeking someone that has come across this exact situation or quality information that might apply to their situation.
- Access to information. They can’t access the information they need. Therefore they need help from others to acquire the information they require.
- Fragmentation of information. They don’t know where to find the information. Information is dispersed across many different channels. People initiate discussions to identify and find the information they need.
Most discussions initiated in communities of practice are related to a lack of domain knowledge and complexity of information.
If you’re building a community of practice, it makes sense to highlight (and balance) discussions that are complex and specific with those that clarify a broader domain of knowledge that the entire community can answer.