Take a scientific approach to starting a Remote Working Community of Practice

So many of us have been thrust recently into remote working. We are dealing with new challenges and emerging practices to support us working effectively, blending our home and work life and maintaining social connections at a time we feel more isolated.

This seems fertile ground to start a new community of practice where people could discuss their challenges and share practices for which others might benefit. We felt this community of practice would have relevance to a group wider than the agile community we are normally engaged with. A new community group seemed appropriate over simply an event at one of the existing Agile community meetups we help organise.

For Agility Systems we felt good about doing this work, it strongly aligned to our vision:

Bring joy to solving complex problems and unleashing potential

These however were untested ideas:

  • What if the community wasn’t interested?
  • What if people were not having significant challenges?
  • What if people didn’t have practices to share that people might benefit from?

We always embrace agile methods and practices in everything we do. This needed a scientific experimental approach so we started with a hypothesis:

We believe that the community will be interested in a remote working community of practice
Which will result in challenges in remote working surfacing and practices being shared for others benefit
We will have confidence to continue when we have 50 or more sign up to the community, a prioritised list of challenges emerges, we hear some key insights for one top challenge and our community provide positive feedback on the session

Here are the outcomes of the initial experiment:

67 People signed up to the new meetup community

Screen #1 of some of the Participants

Prioritised list of challenges emerge

Summary of Key Insights for at least one top challenge

Watch the recording to hear the participant’s share back some of their key insights:

Some example Insights:

  1. Is someone talking too much, topic dragging on?
    Use ELMO (Enough Let’s Move On)
    A link to useful cards that was shared:
    https://www.collaborationsuperpowers.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Supercards-A4.pdf
  2. We are getting to know each other more deeply beyond the work – bringing each other into our homes
  3. Themed dress days and/or meetings:
    – Formal dress Monday
    – Fancy dress Friday
    – Silly Hat meetings
    – Bring your pet meetings
I tried that last one out the following Monday 🙂

community provide positive feedback from the session

The initial hypothesis appears to be validated so we should continue. We need to keep experimenting though! What’s the next highest risk to the success of this remote workers community of practice? Does our hypothesis need to change? What’s the next smallest experiment we should run to validate our next highest risk?

Do you actively take a scientific approach to your new ideas?

I hope this blog encourages you to take a scientific approach to your ideas, thinking ahead about the outcomes you expect to achieve and determining metrics that would give you the confidence to proceed, stop or pivot.

By the way, if this new Remote Workers Community of Practice is of interest to you, if you have challenges or practices you would like to share, then get involved! You can register here:

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