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Shared Values + Purpose

Focus the community around a collaboratively defined mission and set of outcomes. Reinforce the shared purpose in all events, experiences, and materials. Acknowledge that participants are unique individuals -- more than the affiliations they represent.


Define a purpose.

  • There needs to be a shared purpose - something that will benefit all the members - it’s about collaboration, not compromise (Jenna Olsen).

Establish values with the community.

  • CoAction & ShapingEDU each established values as first thing done by community, values established together by community (Samantha Becker).

Choose values that reflect the community, and shape the community to reflect the values.

  • Everyone has to see themselves in those shared values and mission, so it’s important to be very deliberate when crafting them with a new group or reinforcing them with an existing group. Once values/mission are set, any other decisions you or the group makes can be checked against those values. This gives a nice guiding light as you’re developing the group going forward (Ryan Wetzel).

Focus the community.

  • Keep the focus/mission of the CoP clear and somewhat focused. Encourage folks who want to build on topics or go off in other directions to create their own communities of practice! Sometimes community of practice mission creep is a thing (Elan Paulson).

Consider the needs and values of sub-groups.

  • Really start thinking through sub-groups. You’re coming to the program w/ shared values (Angie Dick).

  • Subgroups are even more important when the communities are large. Have the larger group identify the subgroups and se (Lisa Koster).

Articulate activity purpose.

  • Articulate purpose of major meetings and activities for a shared understanding (Elan Paulson).

  • Meetings should have a purpose - something that needs to be done, discussed, or decided - don’t meet just to meet.  Also, each attendee should have a purpose - what is expected of them before, during, and after the meeting. (Jenna Olsen)

Watch for and foster opportunities for evolution in purpose. 

  • The changing environments in which we work require that we respond positively to those changes. Mission statements, if they exist (and they should!), should be reviewed on a regular (annual?) basis to be sure they still reflect the needs of the community and those they serve.


Related Case Studies + Examples:

Many of the case studies reflect multiple, intersecting best practice categories. See the Examples/Case Studies section for additional examples.


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