Why a Community Charter is important

Communities of practice are one of the corenerstones of Knowledge Management, and one of the keys to successful communities is a good Charter.

Community core team in front of their draft charter

Communities of practice are perhaps the most popular element of Knowledge Management Frameworks. In our Knowledge Management Survey we found that 22% of respondents said their highest priority within their  Knowledge Management strategy was to connect people through communities of practice or networks.

However communities of practice are not uniformly successful, and can often become ghost towns like many LinkedIn groups, or implode into strife and argument.  In order to avoid these risks, one of the many things to get right, from the very beginning, is to agree a Community Charter.

A charter is a definitional document, created by the community members, which describes what the community is for, and how it will work. Often a draft is created by the community core team, or the people present at the community launch event, and that draft is then refined over time through discussion within the community. The picture on this blog post shows a community core team at the launch meeting, with their draft charter on the wall behind them.

The community charter contains the following elements:

  • Community Purpose – what the community is for; it’s high level aims and vision, and business case if appropriate 
  • Objectives – what the community is trying to achieve in concrete terms; things that you can measure
  • Scope – which areas of practice knowledge are in scope, and which are not
  • Processes – the ways in which the community will operate in order to share, use and co-create knowledge
  • Tools – the technologies the community plans to use 
  • Roles – who does what (names of the community leader, sponsor, core team etc)
  • Principles and Behaviours – which underpin the community. A great example of a behaviours charter is shown here. 

If you are launching a new community, be sure to define a charter.

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Shared by: Nick Milton

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