Originally posted 22-Feb-24

Stan Garfield


Nancy White is the founder of Full Circle Associates, her consulting practice that includes an extensive network of professionals. She is a frequent contributor and a past core group member of KM4Dev, a global networked community of international development practitioners interested in knowledge management and knowledge sharing issues and approaches, who seek to share ideas and experiences in this domain.

Nancy is a leading thinker, writer, and practitioner of online facilitation (group facilitation for distributed environments). She supports distributed learning, teams, and communities of practice, where technology is just the tip of the iceberg. She believes that organizational capacity and strong processes are the links to success.

Nancy supports communications for NGOs, NPOs and community organizations, thinking in, out, around, and beside the box. She offers fresh ideas and practical plans for implementation.

Her specialties include online interaction strategic planning, design, execution, online facilitation, training, NPO/NGO knowledge sharing/management, strategic communications framing, issue communications, project management, and chocolate tasting.



  • Duke University — BA, Botany, 1980


  • Founder, Full Circle Associates, since 1997
  • Chief Operating Officer, Bullseye Internet News Service USA, 1996–1997
  • Director of Programs and Communications, March of Dimes — Washington State, 1989–1996
  • KIRO Radio and Television, Executive Administrator — Public Affairs and other positions, 1981–1989



Digital Habitats: Stewarding Technology for Communities with Etienne Wenger and John D. Smith

The Change Handbook: Group Methods for Shaping the Future edited by Peggy Holman, Tom Devane, and Steven Cady — Chapter 59: Online Environments that Support Change (with Gabriel Shirley)

Encyclopedia of Virtual Communities and Technologies edited by Subhasish Dasgupta — Online Group Facilitation Skills (page 354)

Knowledge Networks: Innovation through Communities of Practice edited by Paul Hildreth and Chris Kimble — Chapter 23: Click, Connect and Coalesce for NGOs: Exploring the Intersection Between Online Networks, CoPs, and Events

OTiS Online Tutoring E-book edited by Carol A. Higgison — Chapter 6: Culture and Ethics: Facilitating Online Learning (with Michel Labour, Charles Juwah, and Sarah Tolley)


  1. YouTube Channel
  2. Group Facilitation Vs. Network Facilitation
  3. Successful Distributed Teams
  5. KM Impact Challenge
  6. Loomio
  • Vimeo
  1. Impressions from KM4Dev
  2. An Intro to Twitter
  3. Graphic Recording 101




  1. February 2010 Rethinking Ourselves (KM People) as Technology Stewards with Etienne Wenger and John Smith
  2. September 2012 Graphic Facilitation


KM4Dev Journal Articles

Articles by Others

Improving cross-disciplinary collaboration with strategy knotworking and ecocycle planning

I have used the six knotworking questions plus ecocycle planning from Liberating Structures to make it possible for a group to look back critically, assess the current state, and prospectively generate options to move forward.

The six knotworking questions are:

  1. What is the fundamental purpose of our work (as individual projects and as a portfolio)?
  2. What is happening around us that demands change?
  3. What are the critical uncertainties and paradoxes we must face to make progress?
  4. Where are we starting, honestly?
  5. Based on what we have discovered, what is now made possible?
  6. What are our next steps and how will we know we are making progress?

From answering the six questions, a shared language evolves. Fresh ideas across portfolios of work within or across funded programs come into focus. Relationships form and deepen creating space for peers to ask for and offer specific help. Teams can more easily refer to issues across different contexts for optimization. Emergent ideas can be supported across portfolios of grant-funded projects.

What shows up repeatedly is how silos become more permeable and even networked. Two aspects of knotworking seem most useful in this context:

  1. Action and learning entwined
  2. Exploring together generates new options

Community of Practice Start Up Toolkit & Worksheets

Full Circle’s 10 Steps for New Communities

  1. Define and clearly articulate community PURPOSE (Domain). Be clear where you want to aim in terms of depth and breadth. Ideally, do this with some (potential) community members. Be sure to consider alternatives to a community format.
  2. Determine if there are any existing communities that fill your need. Don’t replicate. It is hard to compete for limited time and attention. If there is an existing community, see if you can work with them. If no community, continue!
  3. Identify the PEOPLE (Community) who you would want to participate.
  4. Articulate and test the purpose with potential members to see if they can see the value of participating. If not, reexamine your community purpose.
  5. Analyze what initial community activities and PRACTICES you should plan for to engage people. Make sure there are some options, but not too many options. It is always wise to start simply.
  6. Pick appropriate online tools and set them up as simply as possible to start. You may want to “turn off” some features at the start and gradually add them in.
  7. Design your initial monitoring and evaluation approach. Consider focusing on the PURPOSE, PEOPLE and PRACTICE.
  8. Seed your community with your friends and network. No one likes to join an empty shell. Invite people and spread the word.
  9. Plan an engaging kickoff event and then keep going!
  10. Take time to reflect and notice what is working (do more of that), what is not working (stop that) and what can be improved. Always be learning!

Why should I consider a Community of Practice?

  • The knowledge we want to create, share, apply sits with the individuals, rather than codified into books, manuals, or other artifacts. The practice is complicated or complex enough that it can’t be supported with just “best practices.”
  • The domain is uncertain, changing or emerging, so we need to regularly check in with each other as practitioners.
  • The practitioners need the social support of other practitioners in addition to the domain content. This may mean helping people identify as professional practitioners, grow their skills and confidence, or grow by becoming a leader in their field.
  • We are passionate about learning and advancing our field. We can’t get enough of learning!

CoPs bring unique value because:

  • They tap into member knowledge and experience.
  • They can blend with projects and teams or stand alone.
  • They can fly under the radar” or be part of a more formal set up.
  • They offer value in informality, voluntary participation and relationship that can go far beyond the content or domain.



Stan Garfield

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/