Stories, networks and our practice

In April Bev was in London working with ABSugar, a global corporate group of companies seeking to develop synergies across its businesses in different parts of the world by cultivating communities of practice.

After the session, Debbie Jennsen, who is leading the ABSugar initiative, asked me if I could connect her with people at Deutsche Bank, also based in London. She had seen the blog post we had written about them “Social learning at Deutsche Bank” and that story made Debbie want to talk with them directly.

This made us reflect on the role of stories in our practice and the ways they reflect our roles as consultants and what we do to:

  • Open up imagination: expand what is possible by showing what others are doing
  • Carry learning: convey what we and our clients are learning about the practice of enabling social learning
  • Connect practitioners: connect people within and across sectors and disciplines to develop their social learning strategies and make them feel part of a broader movement
  • Reframe strategies: when we tell the story of an initiative, we do it from a given perspective, which tends to reframe what people are doing in ways that open up new possibilities for taking strategic action in developing social learning capability. It also refines and expands the perspective.

We are realizing that in deepening our own practice we are developing ourselves as a certain kind of story-teller and as a connector of people across the landscape. This is probably why one of our favorite assignments is to research and write up cases….

And perhaps the reason we get so excited about our BEtreat workshops is that they combine all these roles into one event.

2 thoughts on “Stories, networks and our practice”

  1. Hi Both, I love your work! I have a more philosophical question. I have experience where the term “Hub”, to me, is being used in places where “Communities of Practice” should be. This misuse can lead to confusion. My observation of these so-called Hubs is that they tended toward connecting or making available resources for communities. “Hubs” seems like a strong concept in social media but have no social-science that explains them. Do you have an opinion around the concept of Hubs and how it relates to Communities of Practice? Thank you.

    1. Hi Simon. The term community of practice is really just a technical term that describes a certain kind of learning partnership among people. What these people call it can vary widely. And whether a hub acts as a community of practice or not is an empirical question. We would probably not use that term to refer to a CoP because it implies a centre with spokes. But some CoPs do have a core and many peripheral participants around that core.

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