In a recent post, Bruno Meessen announced some changes for CoP platforms. A key new development will be the multiplication of opportunities for experts, more in particular small collaborative projects. In this blog, I introduce the first step in this direction : the new “collaborative projects” page/section of our Health Financing in Africa blog.
In just a few years, the « Harmonization for health in Africa » (HHA) CoPs have found their place in the - crowded - international health landscape. If their role is perhaps still modest, we bet that it will continue to grow in the coming years. Further growth will, among others, capitalize on the development of new models of collaboration.
Today, thousands of experts with very diverse experiences and profiles are registered on the CoP online forums. These forums are obviously useful for information sharing and technical discussions, but there is a lot more we could do together. As Michel Muvudi, a frequent commentator on this blog, has said recently: in “Community of Practice”, you have the word “Practice”… and it’s there for a reason. We must pay attention that our various groups do not remain limited to “theories” and interesting debates only, but also become dynamic and pro-active big communities.
It’s clear that the sheer numbers of members of the CoPs are impressive: there are by now thousands of very competent people with complementary skills, from all over the world, part of the CoPs. But how can we make the best use of all these brains ? The answer to this question is, at least in part: by setting up collaborative projects. Let’s go a bit more in detail.
Our « collaborative projects » page/section : involving the greatest number of people
Our first experiences with collaborative projects, like the « Muskoka » study, have shown us that there exists a clear demand for such processes. In fact, the demand comes from two sides: first, CoP experts themselves have been quite motivated and eager to get involved in each previous proposition of a collaborative project ; second, ministries, funders and partners are showing a growing interest in the development of mechanisms which allow them to solicit experts of CoPs.
Our assumption is that collaborative projects have a promising future … but only if we can develop and frame them properly. This will be one of the core functions of the platform that is being created. But, instead of just waiting for this future platform, we decided to already kick-start the process.
As you can see when looking at the top of this blog, we have created a new section, called « collaborative projects » (between the “resources” and “about us” tags). It’s here that the new calls for collaborative projects, open to all CoP experts, will be published. There will be a link for each proposal. If you click on this link, you will be referred to a standardized (pdf) form describing the project. This will include: name; project’s sponsor; required profile of experts; conditions for participation; description of the tasks; … for example. Those interested can then just contact the project’s sponsor or manager, according to the procedure referred in the form. Please note that, for each project, slots will be limited. We reckon that, more often than not, slots will be quickly taken: so it will be up to you to be quick and motivated. For example, the managers of the “RAMED conference” project have already finalized their selection.
The « project forms » have several functions. One of them is to be totally transparent about the opportunities offered. Another function is to be a baseline for the evaluation of the project’s (proper) execution. Soon, we will move towards a new system which will allow us to quantify the contributions of each expert (this innovation will be explained in a future blog post).
An incremental process
The creation of this new page/section is a first step towards broader advertisement of our activities among members of CoPs. Suggested projects will be very diverse. Some will target contributors with a rather specific profile (for example, for the “checklist” project we want people with previous experience in the management of an international event), and sometimes just a limited number of them. But proposals can and will also be more open sometimes - we already have several projects “in the pipeline” which will require a large number of experts. If no project fits your profile for the time being, be patient : you will probably soon get other interesting opportunities.
Please note that our approach also involves an experimental aspect - we are counting on you as well as on your constructive feedback: your reflections and comments will allow us to build the future platform in a more clever and stronger way.
To remain informed about new opportunities, we strongly advise you to follow the messages posted on the online discussion group of your CoP. If you want to be informed of projects launched by other CoPs, you’ll have to register to their forum, or else visit regularly the page ‘collaborative projects’ (in the first months, checking this page twice a month will probably be sufficient). The second option might be more appreciated by your email box - some CoPs have quite some email traffic.
We hope that you will be with us in the construction of this exciting 2.0 world. And now, let’s roll! Up to you to seize all these emerging opportunities!