Building common cultures of practice and bridging communities towards a commons of collaboration

Organisational and community cultures are very much driven of how we collaborate and communicate with each other. ALC enables the transformation of communities of practice

The challenge of shared best practices

Organisations operate in an increasingly flat, fast changing, and complex world. People in these organisations need to collaborate more and more across organisational boundaries.

In such a world shared organisational values become increasingly critical. However, connecting values with operational practices is also becoming more difficult in such a world. Well entrenched collaborative habits may be a facilitator, but often are rather an obstacle. For example, we talk about inclusiveness, but fail to organise exchanges of opinions in a way that would not privilege extroverts over introverts. We emphasise quality and risk management but fail to embody them in our processes and limit us to add them, albeit ineffectively, as an afterthought. We talk about valuing staff and partners but fail to reciprocate equitably their contributions.

In short, our operational practices, i.e., how we run our collaborative activities, does not match our credos. Such inconsistencies threaten our trustworthiness, and thus ultimately our capability of achieving things in this world. They handicap our capabilities to deal with more complex challenges that require deep collaboration, based on mutual trust.

All those who have tried to evolve the practices in organisations and communities know how hard that can be. Best collaboration practices are difficult to extract, to share, to make stick… And once the practices have been deployed, it is challenging to make them evolve, progressively, as one learns.

Improving our capabilities of creating a collaborative common for collaboration is hence key to our future.

Communities of practice and SymPlace Commons

ALC aims at enabling symCommunities, i.e., groups (of any size) sharing and continuously improving their collaboration practices in form of symFlo bundles as well as symContent resulting from past symFlos. By identifying symFlo bundles as standard references for their collaboration practices, organisations and other communities can create, maintain, and change common organisational cultures, based on shared practices embodying common values. Also, they will be able to scale up and / or to spread out much more quickly, within and across organisational boundaries.

SymFlos will also provide means for organisations to continuously learn about their practices and improving their symFlo bundles and symContent. Organisations seeking sociocratic organisation modes, i.e., which practice forms of governance involving all members in governance and management to operate in a self-organising mode), will symly their values, practices and business operations, managing the organisational knowledge as a shared symContent. As organisations symlyfy their collaboration practices (i.e., move from traditional collaboration practices to symlying) and their members symlyfy their collaboration habits, they will gain in terms of effectiveness, efficiency, inclusion, serenity and motivation.

ALC infrastructures, as the one currently in project at SymPlace, will enable organisations to mesh the symFlos in their symCommunities with their own information systems and other digital tools. Dedicated symBots will embody the interfaces with third-party information systems as sinks and sources.

A particularly important symCommunity will be the SymPlace Community, i.e., the community of all SymPlace individual and organisational users, encompassing the networks of organisations using the SymPlace solutions as well as the networks of designCols, i.e., users who design, test and continuously improve new  symFlo templates, to enable new collaboration practices and habits. The members of the SymPlace Community will jointly own and govern the SymPlace Collaborative Commons for Collaboration, shortly SymPlace Commons, with:

  • The open technology platform running the SymPlace apps
  • The SymPlace Marketplace allowing users to exchange and commercialise ALC-related products and services, such as bundles of symFlo templates, symContent as well as symFlo-based services and products.
  • SymPlace Library, containing the collection of technology modules solution bricks to build symbots (mostly free under a Commons license).

The SymPlace Ecosystem, consisting of the SymPlace Community and the SymPlace Commons, will continuously evolve through the interactions within the SymPlace Community and with third parties.

These communities will then enable new forms of collaboration between strangers. We will be able to search people who are either like-minded or complementary, discover them, get to know each other, engage in common actions, trade with each other, have fun, reinvent the world, develop true friendship or even more… all in one. Deep relations become a collaborative purpose. As we get to know each other, with the help of dedicated symBots we will co-create new symFlos which enable us to cocreate our relations and the world, as they become deeper.

Use case: Reinvented consultancies

During his (relatively) long career, Christian Baumhauer. SymPlace’s founder, worked for several consultancies / management service firms. These firms are relatively good at sharing knowledge across offices and practices. But they are rather poor when it comes sharing new practices and transposing them across areas. Some tend to mostly recruit freshly graduated brilliant students who are then trained on the job over many years, where they reinvent quite often the way of getting things done. This systemic inertia makes consultancy firms increasingly conservative and tradition prone.

Consultancies, which are highly specialised, develop methods and tools which streamline the process but are thus confined to narrow fields.

They face even more difficulties including third parties, and especially clients, in those practices, as the integration curb is too steep. As a results the interaction with clients often happens on a case-by-case basis.

With ALC consultancies could create competence communities that could serve as pools for expertise. These communities could

  • Own and make grow dedicated symFlo templates that would be appropriate for working on typical projects in their field.
  • Train newcomers by running training & coaching in a smooth way.
  • Share standards and practices with regular clients.
  • Developing new services and insights, by transposing systemic expertise between sectors.

By participating in the SymPlace Ecosystem, consultants could regularly benefit of new ideas and practices, find new business but also give back to the communities they care about.