*Take part in this moderated discussion from Wednesday, March 8, 2017-Friday, March 17, 2017.*

March 8, 2017

Hi Everyone-
Leadership or leader-ful activities within an online space, such as KM4Dev, can be a difficult thing to define. Leadership is often associated with hierarchy and traditional organizations, which we know KM4Dev is not.  However, this does not mean that leadership and leaders cannot or do not exist in KM4Dev. What it may mean is that a traditional understanding of leadership is not sufficient in an environment that privileges member autonomy.  Therefore, I would like to kick off this moderated discussion by asking the question,

What is leadership in a community like KM4Dev? What actions and/or behaviors are considered leader-ful?

In order to help you think about this question I, with the help of my research assistant, have pulled together the different community surveys (2008-2016) that have asked questions about participation and leadership. We have also compiled a list of the different subgroups that members have created and participated in from 2008-2016 on the wiki.  I encourage you to take a look. [http://wiki.km4dev.org/Participation_and_Sub-group_membership_in_KM...]

In order to take part in this conversation, post a comment below. 

-Melissa

March 6, 2017

Dear KM4Dev Members-

From July 2016-September 2016 I collected responses from the KM4Dev membership regarding their participation within KM4Dev. In order to report back on the findings from this survey, I will be hosting a couple of moderated discussions that highlight different findings of the survey. There are three goals for these discussions, 1) create a forum for the presentation of the survey findings to the community, 2) give community members a space to discuss the survey findings and possibly add greater depth of detail, and 3) situate the survey findings within the larger context of research that has occurred within KM4Dev.

The first discussion concerns "leadership" within KM4Dev. In order to aid in this discussion, my research assistant and I have been compiling information related to participation and leadership within KM4Dev from 2008-2016 on the KM4Dev wiki.  Please visit the wiki page to take a look at the different surveys of the KM4Dev membership related to member participation and perceptions of leadership, as well as a list of the different subgroups that were active between 2008-2016.

On Wednesday, March 8, I will formally post the moderated discussion question to this discussion thread and the Dgroups listserv. I encourage you to add a comment to join in the conversation. My research assistant and I will summarize the conversations being held here and on Dgroups and archive these on the wiki.

Sincerely,

Melissa Bator
Core Group Member
Doctoral Candidate, University of California, Santa Barbara

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Replies to This Discussion

I also want to provide everyone with the definitions/assumptions that guided my own thinking connected to the survey I sent out last summer, which asked a series of questions related to members’ participation within KM4Dev (e.g., members’ average amount of time/week spent on KM4Dev activities, how members spent that time).

I understand KM4Dev to be a self-organized virtual community (SVC) of professionals, which I define as a social network made up of professionals from different organizations who share a concern, set of problems, and/or passion about their work and voluntarily come together through the use of online tools (e.g., listserv, social network site, wiki) in order to deepen their expertise and knowledge through different forms of interaction (Bohm & Scherf, 2005; Brown & Duguid, 2000; Wenger, et al., 2002).  I see SVCs, such as KM4Dev, as relying upon principles of peer production to create and maintain a vibrant knowledge base and membership.

Peer production is a form of collective action based on the notion that if you open up enough different ways for people to contribute, to the largest possible population of willing participants, then it is possible to produce something out of that concerted effort, through individual self-allocation of effort. In other words, when the population of possible participants is large and there are many ways for people to be involved (i.e., modularity of task), with varying levels of effort (i.e., granularity of task), in an asynchronous environment people with different motivations and skills will be able to match themselves up (i.e., self-select) to the task that they want to do when they want to do it.

I look forward to interacting with everyone about their own perceptions of leadership and leader-ful activities within KM4Dev. -Melissa

What is leadership in a community like KM4Dev? What actions and/or behaviors are considered leader-ful?

Leadership in KM4Dev is implicitly based on sociocracy. I would be interested to see comments on this statement of mine. Admittedly I have discovered sociocracy (of Dutch origins only recently here in Northern Italy, thanks to Pierre Houben).

Otherwise a global Community of Practice, such as KM4Dev, is self organizing with little or no (individual or hierarchical) leadership required. What is required are facilitators with access to ICT wizard support where needed. The closed we come to leadership in KM4Dev is through the existence of the core group which in a very light way, and indeed based on sociocracy principles, takes decisions where absolutely required or driven by unopposed driven creativity. Peter

What I like most, and I intend to convince the core group to publish more, are the spontaneous testimonials, of which we share a few on the frontpage of km4dev.org. Probably the best evidence that we all together are doing valuable work. 

What we do need to understand better is if, how and why members of the community would be prepared - more than is the case now - to donate on a regular bases so that we can think again about initiating exciting joint learning projects and where required support those with limited resources to participate in full, including face-to-face like for instance on April 2nd.

Melissa Bator said:

I also want to provide everyone with the definitions/assumptions that guided my own thinking connected to the survey I sent out last summer, which asked a series of questions related to members’ participation within KM4Dev (e.g., members’ average amount of time/week spent on KM4Dev activities, how members spent that time).

I understand KM4Dev to be a self-organized virtual community (SVC) of professionals, which I define as a social network made up of professionals from different organizations who share a concern, set of problems, and/or passion about their work and voluntarily come together through the use of online tools (e.g., listserv, social network site, wiki) in order to deepen their expertise and knowledge through different forms of interaction (Bohm & Scherf, 2005; Brown & Duguid, 2000; Wenger, et al., 2002).  I see SVCs, such as KM4Dev, as relying upon principles of peer production to create and maintain a vibrant knowledge base and membership.

Peer production is a form of collective action based on the notion that if you open up enough different ways for people to contribute, to the largest possible population of willing participants, then it is possible to produce something out of that concerted effort, through individual self-allocation of effort. In other words, when the population of possible participants is large and there are many ways for people to be involved (i.e., modularity of task), with varying levels of effort (i.e., granularity of task), in an asynchronous environment people with different motivations and skills will be able to match themselves up (i.e., self-select) to the task that they want to do when they want to do it.

I look forward to interacting with everyone about their own perceptions of leadership and leader-ful activities within KM4Dev. -Melissa

Hi Peter-

With only having read what is in that wikipedia page you linked about sociocracy, the first thing that struck me is the idea of feedback loops. Feedback loops are probably important for (at least) instantiating community norms (as when a member articulates that they have summarized a discussion on the wiki, which signals to the community that this is a valued behavior that community members are actively doing) and making sure that sub-groups that form integrate (feed-back) their work back to the larger community. Taking part in feedback loops might be considered leader-ful behavior because it is in service to keeping the community functioning.

If this is true, then leadership and leader-ful activities can be taken on by more than just the members of the core group. But maybe you are right, maybe there is no need for leadership in a peer produced community. Perhaps those words, leadership and leader-ful, are not relevant in a peer production context. Maybe facilitator is a better word, or emboldened participant?

Good to hear from you and thank you for your reflections, 

Melissa


Peter J. Bury said:

What is leadership in a community like KM4Dev? What actions and/or behaviors are considered leader-ful?

Leadership in KM4Dev is implicitly based on sociocracy. I would be interested to see comments on this statement of mine. Admittedly I have discovered sociocracy (of Dutch origins only recently here in Northern Italy, thanks to Pierre Houben).

Otherwise a global Community of Practice, such as KM4Dev, is self organizing with little or no (individual or hierarchical) leadership required. What is required are facilitators with access to ICT wizard support where needed. The closed we come to leadership in KM4Dev is through the existence of the core group which in a very light way, and indeed based on sociocracy principles, takes decisions where absolutely required or driven by unopposed driven creativity. Peter

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