Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Building a Support Network

Presentation: Building a Support Network
Presenter: Debra Shein, Idaho State University

I’m usually pretty good about packing for conferences. Dress appropriately for the weather and the extra-cold conference rooms. No overpacking. Have everything I need.

Epic fail on my part. It’s colder in Philly (with a mean wind) than anticipated. Spring has somehow missed this part of the Mid-Atlantic. And the meeting rooms are still cold (the genius who came up with the notion that we pay better attention in cold rooms…may they freeze to death). Broke down and bought slacks. Found a really nice pair for $10 at the Macy’s across the street. Good thing I had already planned clothes in this month’s budget….

My takeaways:
- Find a central safe place to share information.
- Reward (not punish) participation
- Going from facilitated to self-directed is harder than it looks
- Other folks have much happy voluntary participants. I don't feel as optimistic about my audience.


Manages End-user training project. Branded “TigerGuides”

Web of people throughout the university.
- Assist end-user
- Relay impt information
- Performs feedback for HelpDesk and service staff

Support Networks
- Help university negotiate change
- Meet ongoing training needs
- Minimizes burden on dedicated training and support staff

(Emphasis on tools in Luminis portal)

(starts with icebreaker – find stuff in Philly to do. Builds information more quickly than 1 person alone)

If you do this electronically – can develop group archive.
- Much faster to develop materials and knowledge in a group

Communities of Practice and potential.
- Faculty tend to work in isolation
- Maybe a community of practice may be able to bridge gap and develop shared bank of resources and assignments (why reinvent the wheel)

Community of Practice should have diversity

Developing a Support Network (ISU TigerGuides as case study)
- Branded. “Safari to the future”
- Conducted needs analysis, training plan.
- Worked with Support team.
- Interconnected partnerships.
- Goal – support network reaching into every department of the University.
+ Who are these people?
- Did this by wandering around the university. (“who are the go to people in the area.”)
+ Tend to be the admin folks with legacy experience
- There is a “shadow service desk,”

Began with series of workshops
- Gave overview of project
- Focus on generating enthusiasm

Next – hands-on workshops
- Extra training
- Prior to HR implementation
- Post-go live celebration

Still in the middle of implementation

Benefits discovered
- Admin assistants felt like they were empowered with responsibility
- Folks felt like they were in the loop. Input appreciated and used.
- Admins felt more isolated than faculty. Broke the isolation.

Will continue to give additional workshops.
- Constant interaction to push info and get feedback.

Top/down organization
- Initiative coming from the trainers to them and back from them.

TigerGuides should evolve into self-motivated / perpetuating organization (at least, this is the goal). Right now, much more directed by the trainer/support group. Require significant facilitation and encouragement.

(talked about benefits of communities of practice)

(she is reading from a script)

Blended community advantages
- Can meet when members separated
- Benefits from group memory
- Can meet asynchronously (intervals allow through reflection)
- Ideas evolve through writing (writing leads to discovery)

High percentage of communities of practice happen of their own accord.
- Can be cultivated.

To encourage the communities
- Give members time to participate
- Value community
- Increase personal empowerment
- Promote connections between members
- Groom members to become leaders
- Provide resources for group activity
- Train members to use resources
- See resources are used in ways to promote involvement
+ Advice
+ Generate knowledge
+ Social networking

Before this can really work – have to have readiness of audience
- Members must have desire to seek knowledge
- Need sense that expertise and well being will be increased by participation

Engage in discussion.
- Ask them what they may gain by participating?
- What would work for them?

They used Luminis group tools. (doesn’t really apply to us. There are some particular features)
- Announcements
- Group/Community News
- Message Board / Threaded discussion forum
- Feature Links
- Ability to add photos, links, files, calendar etc
- Ability to contact other members
- Would like to see a wiki (not in the tool she is demonstrating)
- Is part of the portal for the institution already (didn’t require a lot of retraining)

Internal discussion
- I asked about “resistance to the idea”
- Krishna (SunGard) mentioned – asked for ideas on the board. Non-anonymous. Reward the ideas.
- Importance of “ground rules” for rewarding participation rather than punishing.
- Will need to emphasize “professional development” aspect

Power Users have own website at another organization
- Put notes up
- Once place to centralize tools / central repository.
- (we may need to re-identify the PowerUsers)
- Have group input as whole. Not one administrator. Open up the participation.

Senior manager support essential
- Senior management sees value of community
- Potential rewards.


Robert said...

I liked your ideas in this post, especially in relation to including the administrative support side in a budding CoP. I also enjoyed the vision of you walking around identifying 'go-to' people. I will keep up on your posts as developing a CoP interests me both personally and professionally--Robert Squires, Instructional Designer, University of Montana: http://blog.umt.edu/xlscommons/

Wendy said...

It will be interesting to see the challenges as we attempt to create a community of practice. I suspect I have a more ornery audience than Dr. Schein.

I'll keep you informed and thanks for reading.