A story of how a community lost trust
It is possible for the members of a Community of Practice to lose trust in the community as an effective support mechanism. Here’s one story of how that happened.
The story is from one of Knoco’s Asian clients.
- This community started well, with 4 or 5 questions per week from community members.
- The community facilitator forwarded these questions to community experts to answer, rather than sending them to the whole community and making use of the long tail of knowledge. This may well have been a cultural issue, as her culture reveres experts.
- Sometimes the expert would answer on the community discussion forum, but most of the time they answered by telephone, or personal visit. Therefore the community members did not see the answer, and were not even aware the question had been answered.
- Often the expert did not have enough business context to answer the question (this is a complicated business), so when they did answer on the forum, the answer was vague and high-level. In a culture where experts are not questioned, nobody interrogated these vague answers to get more detail.
- Often the questions themselves were asked with very little context or explanation, so it was not possible to give good answers. The community facilitator never “questioned the question” to find out what the real issue was.
- Where there was a discussion around the question, it very quickly went off-topic. Again the facilitator did not play an active role in conversation management.
- When the facilitator followed up, to see if the questioner was satisfied by the answer, the answer was usually No.
- A year later, the questions have dropped to 1 or 2 a month.