The rationale for working groups and special interest groups
Why might a community decide to establish working groups and/or special interest groups? In an earlier post we discussed community-level programming – activities that are general enough that they are designed to be of interest and value to all members and to create opportunities to get to know one another and identify commonalities. However, within any large enough community, there will also be differentiation into sub-groups who want to focus more deeply on a specific topic – perhaps as an area of professional development or something that supplements a project they need to deliver in their own community role. This differentiation into sub-groups also creates opportunities for emerging leaders within a community – those who are highly engaged and wish to take on more responsibility for advancing the overall mission of the community. It’s this combination of scaling, through the activities and empowerment of these emergent leaders, and dedicated group work that greatly enhances the ability of any community to make progress towards its overall mission. For these activities to be successful, community management is nonetheless needed to support emergent leaders and their groups in their activities.
This week we’re launching a new CSCCE working group – for any STEM community managers planning or supporting community champions programs.
What are community champions programs?
As a community manager, chances are you spend a significant amount of your time operating at the “whole community” level – devising shared programming such as community calls and also creating newsletters and other reinforcing communications to keep the group informed and aligned around the various programming and activities.
While that community-level alignment is crucially important, a community moves forward its mission when members are empowered to take on emergent leadership roles – which enables the community to grow, become more sustainable, and to advance specific projects together via working groups and other smaller-group activities. In the CSCCE Community Participation Model (see image below) we refer to this mode of member engagement as the CHAMPION mode – and we’re working to develop our own champion infrastructure as well as working with other communities such as The Carpentries to develop theirs.
This week we’re thrilled to share CSCCE’s Community Participation Guidelines with our community. These guidelines are the result of several months of careful consideration, and were co-created by members of our community of practice in a dedicated working group.
In this post, we, the members of that working group, outline our process. Over the coming weeks, we’ll also share additional blog posts in which we reflect on some of the nuances of preparing community participation guidelines. We are doing this for two reasons: We want you to know how we ended up here, and we want our experience to assist you as you develop similar guidelines for your community.
If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out to email@example.com.
In out last blog post, we announced the release of 13 new “Community Profiles,” created by CSCCE staff in collaboration with independent contractor, Sara Kobilka. In this post, which was co-authored with Sara, we delve a little deeper into our methodology.
As we began the survey design process we worked to balance multiple considerations. First, we wanted something as complete as possible. Lou created the first version of the survey with the goal of collecting information about communities that scientific community managers had previously expressed interest in learning about – such as funding models, staffing, and online collaboration tools. At the same time, we didn’t want to make the survey too onerous for community managers to complete.
September’s community call will take place on Wednesday, 23 September at 6pm UTC (2pm US Eastern Time) and will center around the release of CSCCE’s Community Profiles. After an overview of the project, we’ll also hear from some of the community managers who participated in this pilot research study.
On this month’s community call we discussed and refined a set of core values prepared by the CSSCE Code of Conduct Working Group. Through breakout sessions and open discussion, members of the community considered the values and how they translate into personal and collective behaviors.
As a result, today we published our core values on the CSSCE website here. They will inform our code of conduct (coming soon), how staff and members interact in our community of practice on Slack (request to join here), and all of the programming and trainings offered by the center.
Our May community call, scheduled for Monday, 18 May 2020 at noon US Eastern Time, will focus on CSCCE’s core values and how we are working with members of our community of practice to co-create a code of conduct.
This call will include a discussion with the CSCCE Code of Conduct working group, and provide opportunity for all members of our community to comment on our draft core values statement.
In January’s Community Call we reviewed our plans for CSCCE’s programming for the first few months of 2020. In this post we recap our intentions to launch three initial working groups this month – as a precursor to creating the supporting structures for future working groups later this year.
Why working groups?
CSCCE provides training, programming, resources and research to support community managers in science – and organizations looking to nurture scientific communities. One of our core activities is to host a community of practice, where existing community managers can learn from one another and ask questions of a supportive group of like-minded peers.
In addition to our Slack channel and monthly community calls, we’re now offering community members the opportunity to work more closely together in a working group.
We’re continuing our monthly community calls for scientific community managers next week at 2pm Eastern on Wednesday 29th January. Please join us to discuss what comes next for our community of practice.
As we start a new year our first community call of 2020 will focus on updates about phase two of our activities to support those building community in science. Join us to discuss the initial results of our survey of the members of our community of practice on Slack – which includes programming requests. We’ll also be sharing opportunities to join an initial number of working groups – and we’ll introduce CSCCE’s advisory board.
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