Bigger communities of practice are more effective, data shows
The bigger a community of practice is, the more value it delivers. At least according to our KM surveys.
Knoco conducted two major surveys of knowledge management programs in 2014 and 2017, collecting in total more than 700 results.
As part of the survey, participants were asked whether Communities of Practice (CoPs) formed part of their KM approach. Over 250 people then continued to answer supplementary questions about their CoPs. (this was an optional section and not all of the people running CoPs took the option)
One of these questions covered the average size of CoPs in terms of teh number of members, and another was a subjective assessment (marks out of 5) of Community effectiveness in delivering value.
From the plot shown here, there is a very close link between CoP size and perceived CoP effectiveness. Larger is better, and the largest CoPs were ranked as the most effective. There seems to be a jump in effectiveness between 100 and 500 members, which may represent “critical mass”
This is not to say that smaller CoPs don’t add value, but respondents marked these are less effective.
As you might expect, the larger CoPs are found in the bigger organisations, confirmed by the plot below of average CoP size v organisation size. The large organisations, with CoPs of more than 100 members, are where CoPs were deemed the most effective at delivering value.
However the survey also showed that the majority of CoPs are small – the modal size being 10 people, the median 50 and the mean 250 (see plot below).
There are a lot of organisations out there with very small Communities of Practice, delivering disappointing results. If this is your organisation, with many small CoPs, then consider if possible amalgamating them, as Bigger seems to be Better.
Go here for more details of the survey results, and how to ask for a free copy.