WST CoP Launch Event – May 3 2017

WST Community of Practice Launch Event May 3 2017As promised in the last words at the close of WST 2017,
Work Smarter Together will be ‘more than just a one day event’.

At 3.30pm on May 3 we are launching the Work Smarter Together Communities of Practice in Q015, the Lochlann Quinn School of Business.  This is the beginning of the next chapter in the life of WST.

Click here for registration for the event.

The aim of the WST Communities of Practice is to take all that is good and positive from the one day event… stretching it, kneading it, leavening it, nurturing it… and grow it into communities which embody and support the collaboration and creativity that we saw so clearly reflected in WST 2017.

The launch event will centre on hearing from some people, outside of UCD, who came together out of need, shaped a community through their experiences together, and created something they had not anticipated when they started out. The intention is that you will hear something that triggers an idea, raises interesting questions, and perhaps inspires you to action… to see the growth of communities of practice within UCD.

What is a ‘community of practice’?

We are using the phrase ‘community of practice’ (CoP), begging the question as to what this means.  

First and foremost it is a community for people who work in some kind of common space, at some kind of common business, and in this space they share a common practice – the things they do.  What makes this group a ‘community of practice’ is that they are interested in learning from one another, developing skills in their shared practice, building on the experience and successes of others, and sharing their own. They want to network and connect with others in that space.   It is also about the recognition of peers for the contribution of their colleagues and the recognition of the community itself by those around it.

In short, a ‘community of practice’ is a group of people who share a common ‘practice’ in which they want to learn and grow, building skills, knowledge, networks and recognition, a community which requires care and nurturing, and which is as much about what people put into it as what they gain from it.

“Give me an example!” I hear you say.  No.  No examples.  I can scan the University in my mind’s eye and spot more than a few, but none of them call themselves communities of practice so we are not going to put that label on them.  We are going to use the launch event to start to see what we can do to support existing communities that gather, as well as nurturing new ones.

“Who is this ‘we’?”, I also hear you ask.  The planning group for WST 2017, with members coming from UCD Agile, the Library, Registry, IT Services, Student Services, Finance, Research and the College of Social Science and Law.  This group agreed to shepherd the WST Communities of Practice through its first months, through to the end of 2017.  In that time we will figure out how this evolves into 2018 and beyond.

“Why is Agile involved?”  For the same reason we sponsored WST 2017 – the collaboration and creativity we see in Work Smarter Together is focused on making UCD a better place to teach, research, work and learn, something which very much echoes the strategic plan’s ‘agility and effectiveness’ agenda which Agile supports.

There is a broad model for communities of practice – the people in the common space looking to learn and build, some support for that group, and senior management support behind it all.  As we look to this start-up phase of the CoPs, Agile is here to provide direct support and Prof Mark Rogers, sponsor of the strategic plan’s ‘agility and effectiveness’ agenda, to provide the senior management underpinning.

In all of this we are working to the ‘plan – do – check – act’ model:  start based on a reasonable plan, get involved, learn through doing, and make the next iteration based on what you learned from the first.  This is not about micro detailed planning but about learning from planning and enthusiastic follow through.

If you want to know more the come along on May 3 at 3.30 to Q015 in the Lochlann Quinn Business School on the main Belfield campus.


Michael Sinnott, Director of Agile, member of the WST planning group

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