August 3, 2012
Written by Bloomfire Admin
We’ve all heard that sometimes you have to ask some hard questions to get hard answers. In business, the answers we seek can be sought after, fought for, brainstormed and run through any number of funnels until we get the information or knowledge we need. The desperate seeking for solutions should be embarked upon once the biggest question is first answered and that is: Is my product a must-have? Would the world be a little less great without my product in it? This is really the only answer you need to move forward. You are relevant.
Assuming that you believe that your product or service is worth betting your career on, you next need to get everyone else on board and most likely, that will involve installing a process for knowledge and content sharing. Building a team means giving the players the tools they need to succeed and using those tools to become great coaches. Since there is a veritable sea of technological options to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you? This could be another example of a hard question with a hard answer, but it’s not. The answer is simple: The best tool is the one you will use.
When Bechtel, a global engineering and construction company with over 50,000 employees asked this question, they knew that they needed to create a Community of Practice (CoP) that would work for them, and work fast. There was no time to experiment. Once they selected their tool, they analyzed the potential success and roadblocks:
We knew that for the target audience of this CoP, Bechtel employees on our project sites, the website must quickly prove its value. Members should immediately see how the site could make their jobs easier and help them improve safety and quality on their project. We did not want members to regard the CoP as a flavor of the month or yet another machine that had to be fed something that would generate an additional action item to their work days.
Because we were asking people to participate on their own time, it was important that the tone of the site reflect their voice and not that of corporate headquarters. Our CoP was bottom up, a community by the field for the field. The goal was to be a first-stop resource within Bechtel for new technologies, tools, solutions, and best practices for employees on Bechtel projects. While the site was primarily safety oriented, it also needed to be valuable to people in engineering and construction. 
Bechtel understood that the risk of selecting a tool that doesn’t prove its value right of the gate will often be tossed aside or met with suspicion. Change is well, it’s change and some people adapt better than others, but knowing that you have the right tool to keep the naysayers at least yelling softly can only help. Ultimately the tool should prove so valuable that those same people become its biggest champion and teach newcomers how to use it to foster the community of sharing knowledge and information that every successful business strives to create.
1 Drexler, Paul and Mukerji, Ani. Learning Solutions Magazine, 16 Jan., 2012:Boots On The Ground: Introducing A Community of Practice at Bechtel
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